National Poetry Month – ‘Beneath the sprawling Mango Tree’ by Momi Mukherjee
Beneath the sprawling Mango Tree
This is how it would surely be
Beneath the sprawling mango tree
If the God of time had stood still
Courtyard, house and a crumbling mill.
Tulsi swaying in the breeze
Cotton sarees and jangling keys
Scent of camphor and incense
Restraint of the handmade fence.
Gentle steps on the brick-laid path
Periwinkles on the way to the bath
Cry of shrill, an ice-cold dip
Breaking of dawn, dew and a nip.
Fervent prayers for a mango to fall
Math tables, history and football
Shrieking in joy at the tyre swing
Snakes and Ladders, rubber sling.
Stacks of hay and afternoon slumber
Sweetest milk in Kansa tumbler
The gentle cow chewing my shirt
Rossogolla, Sandesh made for dessert.
Myriad shades of green I learnt
Reds, oranges, rusts and burnt
Running through the paddy field
No sunscreen to act as a shield.
Cuts and bruises and forever scraped knee
Just for a lark chased the bee
Skipping stones in water was a skill
Precious runaway afternoon drill.
Baul voices robust and strong
Folklore told as a song
Saffron robes and matted hair
I followed them everywhere.
Meal times like I’ve never seen
A row of seating took eighteen
Two such rows each time we ate
Laughter, cousins, Dadu’s gold plate.
Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys
Kept aside for bigger joys
Dida’s lap and my puny head
Filled with queens and kings instead.
Sundown got the men home, from toil
Lanterns, lamps, kerosene oil
Glowing fireflies not so far away
Against the night sky of grey.
Jasmines blooming along the wall
Hyenas doing their mating call
No traffic of buses or cars
You could almost touch the stars!
Momi Mukherjee, an ex-banker from Navi Mumbai and the founder of Devi an exquisite ethnic wear boutique, shares a poem written by her on the reminiscence of her annual summer holidays as a child with her grandparents in rural Bengal. She takes all of us back to those good old childhood days…
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