Poetry in the city.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla arranged to meet poet Soumya Mukerji at a cafe in central Delhi’s Mehar Chand Market. In her 20s, she produced her first poem at five – it was on the Wright Brothers’ first flight.
An admirer of Mirza Ghalib, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Rainer Maria Rilke, Ms Mukerji says, “If I’m at home, I compose poetry late into the night when folks have gone to bed but mostly thoughts come to me when I’m commuting in the Metro or just taking a walk… perhaps on a good weather day.”
A journalist during the day, Ms Mukerji says, “Poetry is a small private freedom that’s actually far bigger than that. It’s a collective leveller. It is like a candid or sometimes a cathartic conversation. Sometimes with the self, sometimes with a subject and at other times with whoever can understand, whether in my context or their own. It just goes on, not weighing words, at times weaving itself in such a stupor that when you stop, you have no clue how many thoughts and feelings possessed you all at once. It’s often like a mangled mess that manifests itself with manners.”
Recognizing the role of our unwieldy megapolis in her sentimental life, Ms Mukerji says, “Delhi is food for poetry. Its confused cacophony, its beauty, the ways of its people and places and its collective soul to connect with … even if I’ve written something elsewhere or devoid of a place reference, you’ll always find a part of the city in it. Delhi makes you feel.”
Ms Mukerji shares a poem with us.
Last pages. Dear Life.
The dearest ones.
Sounds of her simplicity
Of country words so comforting
Interrupted now by
A blow drier making a crayon clock
Bread butter business
A gong like beating
The night guard’s stick
Perhaps – or a mad man
On a rampage
Or midnight construction
Click knocks of the kavi cupboard
Blaring music in the big cars of brash brats
The guard stick chasing them
Soon after, musical goodbyes
From relieved dinner hosts
Crowing croaking choking
The lump in the throat
Struggling to throw itself out
But all the bags of air
Too thick for sweet silence tonight
A poet’s world