Among Bengalis, it is considered
bad form to call a person back
(for whatever reason) after she has left.
Is it superstition, or a racial memory
of Princess Kiranmala of the fairytale?
She who never deigned to turn and look
as birds and beasts, demons and ogres
called after her in the enchanted kingdom
as she went forward, sword in hand,
for the golden mynah on a tree of diamonds.
To turn back, she knew, would turn
her into stone, as had been the fate
of her two brothers before her.
At the magic mountain, hundreds of princes
had turned to stone for ever, having turned around,
seduced by the anklets on the dancing feet of nymphs.
That is why, perhaps, something in me
turns around at every cry and birdcall,
every whisper of forgetting and every footfall of memory,
turns back and turns to stone
on the way to the magic kingdom.
By Srinjay Chakravarti
QLRS Vol. 2 No. 4 Jul 2003