Poems by
Nalini Ganguly

What Could I Be?

a poem by Nalini Ganguly

I could be
The colourful cotton bedspread
Motifs of gardens and peacocks
Bought during the Pujas
Laid out king-sized bed
On Ashtami morn
Used on and off thereafter
To be neatly torn into cloth dusters
Once I fray and my colours fade
Perhaps at the end of a year or two…

I could be
The daily newspaper
That you turn page by page
Reading only what interests you
Folded neatly and then put away
In an obscure corner of the balcony
To be sold to the kabadiwallah
Maybe at the end of each month…

I could be
The fragrant Rajnigandha
Twelve stems in all, tiny white buds
The centerpiece of your living room
My fragrance shall linger
Only for just so long
Till I smell as dead as I look and become
Thrown into the black trash bag
Sometime three or four days hence…

I could be
The disposable syringe
Injecting to cure or kill
Piercing, life-sustaining or lethal
Either which way and by whom I am used
Broken, disposed of an instant later
Making sure I don’t infect another
Within a few moments after use…

I could be
Nothing at all
A phantom of my erstwhile self
My breath and heartbeat to remind me
I am alive, and much work needs to be done
Sustain the self for as long as life permits
Until I am finally released from this song…