Bio Note: I have four poetry collections and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to my credit. My works have been published in Stand, The Bitter Oleander, Ink Sweat and Tears and elsewhere. I love remote places, tea and mobile photography and live in Kolkata, India.
The Other Half
When I was a child and an angry soul, as most children are, my mother gifted me a harmonium, hand pumped, with strong German reeds and powerful bellows. She always wished I could be her daughter after three sons and she used to wrap me up in a little girl’s attire when I was really small Later she wished I could at least sing her favourite Tagore songs as her youngest son and I always imagined someone with a delicate voice had been waiting long in the box for my music class since it was made in Dwarkin & Son’s Harmonium Workshop in Calcutta’s ruined north But the harmonium remained a locked classroom of blue notes and trills which I could never open in my entire life. I fumbled with its parts, forgetting the whole; Nobody from the box could ever respond at all You always need someone close to open anything new: love, hate, music, desire or death, and gradually learn how it works inside you like a rust , a patina or a tarnish But my mother, a poet, unpublished, believed all beautiful things come naturally to man and woman if our minds are open. Later I found out she almost echoed David Hume, the philosopher But life is a spoiler. I could never meet the person in the harmonium; the harmonium could never turn into a box of two-some carnival; my mother could not publish her poems anywhere; my father lost the hearing in his right ear when I finally grew up as her mumbling fourth son The harmonium lay, like a sleeping cathedral without a spire, in a deep drawer, a womb in a wooden wardrobe my mother's wedding gift, for decades waiting to be greeted by someone close: breath to breath, reed to reed Its every part longed to be touched by caring finger tips, the bellows eager for new air pumped into them, the reeds dying for a reassuring voice to match the music box's refined pitches bit by bit, like running up a hill After the death of my mother, I sold the wardrobe with the old harmonium still in it
©2022 Sekhar Banerjee
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