Vak Devi

by Saikat Das

Saikat Das’ poem describes all that happens around the goddess with the Veena during festival time.

The goddess immersed in herself
Was playing the Veena
The swan at her feet listening intently
Had no intention
To get into the slimy water, so close

They have raised a wooden platform
In the middle of the pond

There the goddess sat
With her swan
Unmindful that her platform
Would come down any time

But it stood there;
The loud speaker blasted through
All the night

But she carried on quietly
Or somewhat aloof as befits a god

They whirled in tiny rafts around her
Brawling about
their newly acquired girl friends
How they picked them up;
The night gave in

And she played on

I saw her from my balcony
That overlooks the pond:
Her white sari, the flawless hands
Playing the Veena,
The way she sat
And had to

I only tried to feel
Sitting in my cozy armchair
What it takes to be a god

The goddess of speech remained speechless, uncomplaining.

The world around her played with her,
Serious games with mantras and the sacrificial fire,
A thousand offerings

All to be consumed by men and men alone
And when the sport is over

They will throw her
Into that slimy water
To become clay again

Only her straw-skeleton will float up

The boys will bring it back
For the goddess, next year.

Saikat Das (39), comes from Chinsurah, a Dutch settlement on the banks of river Hugli. A teacher in a sub-urban High School, he dreams of writing a novel but has always ended up writing poems that wink at him rather mischievously, taunting his bouts of passion that never quite make it to a novel. But he hasn’t given up.
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