The dull, heavy,
clouds of smoke
block my fleeting

of the fallen
krishnochura flowers.

When I was five
– a cowering bundle
in the backseat
of Babu’s stuttering motorbike –
He taught me how to tie my helmet
and how to
differentiate a krishnochura
from a radhachura.

I barely knew
how to separate
the fragrance from the flower,
I could barely climb
onto the coveted summit
of the junglegym at Safari Park,
but I knew
the sparkling crimson
(and muted orange)
of the krishnochura
like it was my second skin.

that light, pungent scent,
so delicate, barelythere,
reminds me of death.

Babu no longer reads me poems
in the summer,
or recites Nirjhorer Shopnobhongo
from mesmerizing sense-memory,
and instead, he issues ultimatums.
He buys me ice cream on the way home from work,
but his voice cracks on the telephone.

His smile no longer
holds whispered promises
of worlds unexplored;
of shona’r kaathi,
and rupo’r kaathi.

There are days, when the blistering red
Of the krishnochura becomes him –
a large, raging, entity
consuming my dreams,
questioning my words,
and ravaging
the stunted rhythm of my days.

On those days,
I long for that junglegym
in Safari Park;
surrounded by a bevy of strange,
fluttering faces,
lost, but yet
finding myself
among the nameless.
Babu, laughing at the way
I lost my balance, again,
and tumbled down.

There were Sundays
We spent at Victoria Memorial –
munching on dried peanuts,
trying to count the countless
potatoshaped stones that line
the memorial on all sides.

‘Why doesn’t krishnochura
grow in Victoria?’
I would ask,
with the naive idealism
of one who read
a Sukumar Ray too many.

‘Because the krishnochura
knows its impermanence’
he would reply,
worldly, distant,
almost trance-like.

(Maa always found it hilarious.
‘You speak in too many riddles’
she’d say.
‘I can never understand you.’)

My current street
neither has a krishnochura tree,
nor a radhachura tree;
proving, yet again,
how mortality
clings to them
so tangibly.

The dark crimson
is a faded brown,
with leaves crumbling
under the weight of
the sweltering Chetla sun
and a renewed green* regime.

I have forgotten
the exact proportions
of its petals,
and the dizzying saltiness
that strikes one’s chest
on inhaling its scent.
But I remember
the dying strains
of the song to which I can never
‎remember the words –
‎the song comparing krishnochura, radhachura,
and the lingering notes of spring.

Curled tightly within that song
is your dull fragrance.

sleeves rolled,
eyes bright,
reading to me,
in exalted yet subtle
‘jete pari, kintu keno jabo?’