This month in the Know Your Poet series, we are featuring Swagata Sinha Roy.
Swagata Sinha Roy has been a facilitator in education for more than thirty years, having worked in educational institutes in Brunei and in different parts of Malaysia.
She is interested in reading and writing about, as well as discussing the diaspora, her Bengali roots, issues of identity, narratives for children, and most recently, popular culture and social media toxicity.
Currently, she is with a Malaysian university, nurturing her passion to get learners to enjoy the written word. She organizes book and poetry clubs in Kuala Lumpur and enjoys experimenting with different forms of poetry and getting to read poems aloud.
For her, every poem is a conversation. She is deeply indebted to her mother and two sisters for shaping her thought processes and is grateful to be extraordinarily ordinary. She can be reached at www2.utar.edu.
Read Swagata's poem Not Just An Address below.
Not Just An Address
Swagata Sinha Roy
A centre of culture
Of faraway memories brought near
Festive occasions meant alpona designs on the floor
Goddess Lakshmi’s feet drawn entering your door
To bring wealth to your hearth
Wherever whatever your land of birth
In a Bengali home, you can always expect to find
Books, poems, songs, food, paintings (they’d blow your mind!)
The kitchen, a veritable classroom of sorts
Filled with spice jars, pickles, designed pots
A little blackboard placed to learn
The Bangla alphabet as you take your turn
From aw, aa, roshui, dhirgoyi 3 to 4 letters a day
Bornoporichoi to Bankim Chandra, Tagore all the way
The Bengali taste buds, well that’s another story
The grinding of moshola; the aroma of paach furon, hing
There is art to mixing the spices to lace your gravy, you know
And to which lentil, onion, garlic, ginger and tomato go
Bhaja, posto, macher jhol, mishti doi – eaten separately
Aare baba… if you mix them up, how do you get to taste each delicacy?
And the govindobhog chal… any other rice do not measure up
Music floats in the air – bhajan, chhobi geet, robindro shongeet,
Come Durga Puja, Mohaloya takes the front seat
Then comes art – you must colour your drawings right
Pictures and your penmanship must always be a pretty sight
I still remember things at 476-M were not always happy
But what will stay with me is the camaraderie
The sharing, the caring, the singing, the drawing, the cooking
And so much more… I can definitely say
HOME is where the ART is…
Alpona: Designs and motifs made on the floor from a paste of rice and flour on auspicious Bengali occasions
Aw, a, roshui, dhirgoyi: The first vowel sounds in Bangla
Bornoporichoi: Bengali alphabet book
Bankimchandra: Bengali novelist
Tagore: Bengal’s most famous literary son
Moshola: Spices powder
Paach furon: A combination of five spices
Aare Baba: An expression suggesting ‘oh dear’
Govindobhog chal: Rice cultivated in Bengal
Chhobi geet: Songs from films
Robindro shongeet: Songs of Tagore
Durga Puja: The ten-day prayer festival for goddess Durga
Mohaloya: The day Goddess Durga descends on earth