Srinagar, December

by Sutapa Chaudhuri (January 2016)

It is winter here. The tulips

in the Mughal Gardens stay


nipped by the customary frost:

yet refuse to breathe in cellophane


bouquets. The young shoots

of the sunflower die, rejected


by the frost bitten earth.

The Dal lake, freezes,


a bejeweled landmark—

a thin sheet of ice obliterating


the bustle of the ferrying shikaras;

the trees silent and still with frost,


matching emptiness ricocheting

through the latticed windows


of ornate houseboats moribund

in the still waters. Life hibernates,


waiting again for another season

of slight warmth, playing


hide and seek in the piled up snow—

an innocuous whiteness rests


on the thorns of the hoary rosebushes

and the encrusted apple trees,


like the dollops of smile

from bright eyed honeymooners.


The snowy roads eager for the touch

of gamboling children on the mountain slopes


or to taste the warmth of a kiss stolen

from the embracing lovers strolling


hand in hand on this earthly paradise.

The snow dredgers clear the roads—


neatly cutting away, shearing the skin,

soft and smooth, exposing the dark flesh


for the army patrol and the ire of their

ever voyeuristic rifle eyes.




Sutapa Chaudhuri has two poetry collections — Broken Rhapsodies and Touching Nadir. My Lord, My Well-Beloved is a collection of her translations of Rabindranath Tagore’s songs.



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