Colours, all the summer colours that still make Kolkata bearable. This morning I stepped out to buy medicines and fruits, and I sensed different colours holding my attention.

The reds of the jaba flower, the pink-white rash of madhabilata, the mango greens and neem greens . . . the intense blue-white of the sky . . . the bright t-shirts and sarees worn by people on the streets . . . even the way the colours of the cars gleamed in the sunlight.

This photograph shows Rajib Chakrabarti’s book ‘A Different Shade of Green’ at queer support group Swikriti’s stall at the ‘International Kolkata Book Fair’ earlier this month (March 2022). A copy of the book, slightly open, is placed on a table packed with several other queer-themed books, journals and parapharnalia. A second copy is placed vertically against two mini rainbow flags. Next to it is a small standee of digital payment system PhonePe. A couple of individuals can be seen standing behind the table, possibly talking to each other – only their hands and arms are visible in the photograph. Photo credit: Pawan Dhall

Rajib Chakrabarti’s book ‘A Different Shade of Green’ at queer support group Swikriti’s stall at the ‘International Kolkata Book Fair’ earlier this month. Photo credit: Pawan Dhall

It was humid but also breezy, a typical Kolkata paradox. But the best part was that I began to feel better, even energized about a difficult day ahead. The colours and the weather seemed to work like a balm on a tired mind and sleep-deprived eyes.

The shopping was done in a jiffy, the prices didn’t seem to matter, and I returned home to my morning reading. These days I’ve been leafing through A Different Shade of Green, a collection of poems written by old friend and fellow queer writer Rajib Chakrabarti aka Rajib Chocroborty.

This book, published last year by Partridge, is Rajib’s first. An understatement, it exudes calm, just like the author himself, even in making hard-hitting statements on queer phobia and society’s attitudes towards disability. He also writes poignantly about relationships, hopes and desires.

I’ve been reading Rajib’s poems since the 1990s and publishing them as well (first in Pravartak and now in Varta). I sincerely hope he’ll write more and will be published more. The poem that caught my attention and so enhanced the state of my mind this morning – Write Your Mirror – is reproduced here with the author’s permission.

Write Your Mirror

Write your misery to boil it soft.
Write your joy to infuse a healthy sweetness.
Write your fear to learn how to deal with it.
Write your dream to make it a constant reminder.
Write even if no one cares.
Write even if you don’t have
the past in your head
and the present in your marrow.
Write even if your poems
end up as paper bags.
Write your mirror.

Today was also observed as the International Transgender Day of Visibility the world over. Rajib’s poem seems apt for the occasion.

Main photo credit: Pawan Dhall