Kalkatta Biryani / Sekhar Banerjee

In Metiaburz, the smell of fine rice, meat
and ittar waft in the hungry air
like an elaborate evening prayer
for food and God
The moon is a washed-out potato over the lanes,
by lanes, streets, and run-down palaces
with slow moving hands of tower-clocks in Kalkatta-
the old food box.

Is there any sadness, I mean huzn, left in the air, too
like a hint of rose-water, blue potteries
saffron and old clove?
I know a king in exile, who wore his hair in ringlets
and dressed in  a robe
that coyly exposed
his left nipple like a nutmeg in autumn
and he wrote love poetry and danced with a flute
like a blue god in trance

Preparing Kolkatta Biryani is almost like toppling a kingdom
and tearing it apart to search
its spices, fragile memories
and more such intimate things , as if, the taste is a treasure 
chest you carry for generations
in your womb
to Kalkatta, Hyderabad, Dilli and Oudh
as a precious heirloom.

Sekhar Banerjee is an author. He has four poetry collections and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. Sekhar’s works have been published in The Bitter Oleander, Indian Literature, Kitaab, Muse India, Ink Sweat and Tears, Setu, Bengaluru Review, Mad Swirl, Cafe Dissensus, Borderless Journal, Spillwords, Mad in Asia Pacific, Dissident Voice and elsewhere. He is a former Secretary of Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi and Member- Secretary of Paschimbanga Kabita Akademi under Government of West Bengal.  He lives in Kolkata, India.

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