Shome Dasgupta ~ A Kolkata Dream

Consider a sin­gle cloud—angry and scowl­ing, drift­ing away and bob­bing up and down, almost like it’s in the ocean try­ing to reach the hori­zon, and how dark and mad­dened, by itself amid plains of skies, giv­ing home to avian flocks who pierce through this lone cloud with­out hes­i­ta­tion or thought.  Upon fields and fields of end­less minds, this lost scorned bil­low, to remain unfound—to exist as such as one only wants to—in reck­less fury.

Consider your dead uncle who at the age of 99 hoped that he wouldn’t make it to the turn of the century—how mad was he when he heard the fire­works thun­der above Kolkata and his eyes, still open and unsat­is­fied. And when he final­ly passed, you smiled and looked at pho­tographs from years ago, remem­ber­ing his hope­ful voice of want­i­ng to no longer be alive—a teacup and a handkerchief—the wis­dom in the walk­ing cane, step after step into knowl­edge now no longer.

Consider the River Ganges, its glit­tered dho­tis and saris float­ing with stray wood­en boats, a hole here a hole there—a rick­shaw in the dis­tance, in search of vanil­la ice cream, per­haps, and how they bathed and soaped their gar­ments, a cleans­ing, a rit­u­al, the birth of evening as the sun descend­ed and dis­solved just beyond the edge of your tongue. You lis­tened to the cur­rent trans­form your thoughts into holy rays of silence.

So you looked to iden­ti­fy this cloud—the one that filled your skull with con­fu­sion and chaos, in search of a friend who lacked love and pas­sion for this place, and in this place, to be slashed by light­ning or to vibrate from its rum­bling touch, the only touch you rec­og­nized in the dizzy­ing rota­tion of land and mass. Let such sen­sa­tions take you away and for­get about cur­rents shock­ing your streams for every thought about the pains of each and every continent.

So you saw that child tucked away into a con­struc­tion pipe as large as the vehi­cle that shakes along with the uneven streets of Kolkata, stuck in traffic—for every horn, there was progress, for every ges­ture and nod, there was an under­stand­ing that we might reach our des­ti­na­tion but the sec­onds min­utes hours were just fig­ments of a taunt­ing dream . Who was that with him—this baby? Maybe a broth­er or a sister—maybe they seek shel­ter from the sum­mer heat or per­haps it was their home for the time being and you could­n’t help but to to think about cat­alyt­ic con­vert­ers and air con­di­tion­ing and why you felt so lost and how they, those two, seemed so com­fort­able and at ease in such a metal­lic refuge.

So the morn­ing conchs sound­ed amid the chat­ter of crows—the rise of day, and how you would look out the win­dow to see a misty city on the brink of its begin­nings. You, on the bal­cony of your grandfather’s flat, a buck­et of marigolds next to you, strung along the rail­ings, fresh­ly washed cloths—its aro­ma ven­tured and mixed into the sounds of siz­zling fish, for an ear­ly lunch. Below, crick­et on a thin stretch of grass, wick­ets and rocks, and the mur­mur­ing thuds of the game qui­et­ly blends in with the wak­ing city.

Consider this cloud—haunted and in search of peace now, and now no longer a desire for mis­ery. To make amends with love all around—the love it reject­ed since the ori­gin of earth or you. Able now, to cov­er and let be all that lives below, and con­sid­er how, in recog­ni­tion of its own flaws, to become mal­leable, and float in har­mo­ny with that which it didn’t know. Let it be and let it go—this dark bale of sky.

So evening’s breath—the glow­ing huts of smoke and fire, and you’d walk around as night arrived, the air lit by cooks. There was a cart where one was sell­ing books, and you stopped to see the col­lec­tion. Your eyes stinging—you con­tin­ued walk­ing and let the nat­ur­al Kolkata ragas con­sume you. Not so much lost any­more, you con­sid­er a sin­gle cloud and how it left with­out a word, and you were left alone in the mid­dle of a Kolkata dream, where there was always a shine a gleam a glim­mer because there was always hope—a hope to live and die and a hope to be reborn.


Shome Dasgupta lives in Lafayette, LA. He is the author of i am here And You Are Gone (Winner Of The 2010 OW Press Contest), The Seagull And The Urn (HarperCollins India), Anklet And Other Stories (Golden Antelope Press), Pretend I Am Someone You Like (Livingston Press), and Mute (Tolsun Books), and the forth­com­ing books, Spectacles(Word West), and Iron Oxide (Assure Press) which is a poet­ry col­lec­tion. His sto­ries and poems have appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, New Orleans Review, New Delta Review, Necessary Fiction, Parentheses Journal, Magma Poetry, and else­where. He can be found at and @laughingyeti.