|Blooming Amaltas: Summer in Delhi (2) by Animesh Roy
The Dance of the Eunuchs
It was hot, so hot, before the eunuchs came
To dance, wide skirts going round and round, cymbals
Richly clashing, and anklets jingling, jingling
Jingling... Beneath the fiery gulmohur, with
Long braids flying, dark eyes flashing, they danced and
They dance, oh, they danced till they bled... There were green
Tattoos on their cheeks, jasmines in their hair, some
Were dark and some were almost fair. Their voices
Were harsh, their songs melancholy; they sang of
Lovers dying and or children left unborn....
Some beat their drums; others beat their sorry breasts
And wailed, and writhed in vacant ecstasy. They
Were thin in limbs and dry; like half-burnt logs from
Funeral pyres, a drought and a rottenness
Were in each of them. Even the crows were so
Silent on trees, and the children wide-eyed, still;
All were watching these poor creatures' convulsions
The sky crackled then, thunder came, and lightning
And rain, a meagre rain that smelt of dust in
Attics and the urine of lizards and mice....
Kamalā Sur̲ayya, 1934-2009. Summer In Calcutta : Fifty Poems. New Delhi :R. Paul for Kamala Das, 1965.
The summers are brutal here with tormenting heatwave conditions gripping many states and regions of the country. The Meteorological Department has issued a red warning in the National Capital with temperatures rising to 46C. My hometown is the hottest place in the country where the mercury has risen to about 50C. As we tackle such extreme weather conditions (which are all the more prevalent across the world with our continued exploitation of the environment and lack of serious consideration towards climate change/crisis), I realize how the weather conditions can be synonymous with the conditions prevailing within and how that can be explored in poetry. Kamala Das could portray her psyche, exploring themes of her love and sexuality, like no one else in her rich confessional verses. In the above poem, the sterility of the environment, as well as the performers, mirror the "fractured personality" of the poet herself. For a more cultural context, read about the third gender communities in South Asia and their ostracization even today as well as a recent report by BBC on how the colonial empire "tried to 'erase' India's third gender".
This is Anmol (alias HA) and I welcome you all to another week full of poetics here at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. For The Tuesday Platform, add a link to any poem, old or new, in the widget down below. It is an open-link platform and therefore, you don't have to write about or follow a particular theme or subject matter. Once you have added your link, do not forget to visit others and share your words/comments with them.
I look forward to reading your linked verses. And I wish you all a wonderful week ahead.