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Know Your Poet: Swagata Sinha Roy

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


Home

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…

 

Glossary

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

Hing: Asafoetida

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

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