This is the effect of atheism on a certain mould
of character – you build your gods out of stray people.
It is this too long half-moment’s gaze at some familiar
face (suddenly too beautiful, too unreal) that will
undo you. Watch your step and lower your eyes, lest
the illusion clasps on to the irises. Laugh harder, fill
your iPod with Mohammed Rafi. Write a morbid poem or two.
Remember all the time around old scars, meditate
on the leftover fanaticisms concealed beneath your skin.
Bury them deeper in. Wear anklets when you walk,
for the silver will protect you. Listen to your mother,
your grandmother, your toothless maid, the stories
shared in the kitchen under paanchphoron chitter.
Memorise them. Learn a new language and converse
with madmen on street corners. Don’t mistake yourself
for one of their kind.
~ Monidipa Mondal
Monidipa Mondal lives and writes in Calcutta, India. She received a Poetry with Prakriti award in 2011 and was a Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Stirling, Scotland during 2013–14.