Poetry: A New Yorker Misses Durga Puja and Elsewhere by Amlanjyoti Goswami

Durga Puja is celebrated by Bengalis and Assamese with much colour and fanfare all over the world, with the same spirit as Chinese New Year, Id (Hari raya) or Christmas. It starts this year from the October 4th evening and continues to October 9th. Here are two poems written by Amlanjyoti Goswami for this occasion.

A New Yorker Misses Durga Puja

I do not miss much

But sometimes

Stopping by the 45th and 5th

When my avenues and streets get mixed up

I look up

See towers in steel

Hear the giant rumbling

A little feeling enters me

Like a hotdog crumb between my teeth

And I feel

What they must feel…


The crowd heaving, thunder drums, evening lamps

The goddess with those fiery eyes.


But the moment passes.

I walk on.

A train to catch, a deadline nearing…


Later, I look out of the window,

The sky – from my 49thfloor

Too dark to touch.


The same crowd floats free

Laughter on the streets, khichdi* for lunch


My dreams laden with tomorrow,

Climbing the plane’s ladder,


Not looking at those behind me



I have seen Puja

Laughing, wailing.


Puja that stops traffic

Makes tears flow


Here, the goddess isn’t even looking


I came from so far away

Its already time to go.


A closed hall is no puja, mother


But this is all we have.


Be in your own land then

Your place is elsewhere.


Birds cross the ocean with giant feet

Forget their large flapping wings


The next station is Tooting Broadway.

Would you like to go there tonight?


* Khichdi — A porridge made of rice and pulses.





Amlan_picPoetrywala has just published Amlanjyoti Goswami’s collection of poems, River Wedding. His poems have been published in India, the UK, Nepal, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, USA, South Africa, Kenya and Germany, including the anthologies, ‘40 under 40: An Anthology of Post Globalisation Poetry (Poetrywala) and ‘A Change of Climate’ (Manchester Metropolitan University, Environmental Justice Foundation and the University of Edinburgh). His poems have also appeared on street walls of Christchurch, exhibitions in Johannesburg and buses in Philadelphia. He grew up in Guwahati, Assam and lives in Delhi.


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