Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Leftover Food of Regrets

Sreelekha Chatterjee
—Poetry by Sreelekha Chatterjee,
New Delhi, India
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain


Convulsive movements of suddenly agitated body
pulvinated, then drowned in fatigue,
display the pain of the speechless
when leaves are torn, branches dislodged—
physical disturbance, disrupting the normalcy.
Spontaneous pulsation of the leaves accompanies
like heartbeats—irregular systolic and diastolic,
arrhythmic curves,  anomalous fluctuations.
Lacerated twigs with signs of decay,
tension reaches the throbbing tissues.
A shock wave overwhelms the entire plant body,
negative impulse transmits, followed by
excitation varying with age, season, intensity of
Depression for hours together,
an inexpressive interlunation.
Leaves paralyzed, senses benumbed;
gradually regain sensitivity
leaving the hurt as a thing of the past.
Each green body experiences birth, growth, and
All predestined yet intervened by human
war, cruelty, insensitivity, selfish motives.
Clouds of battle smoke, irritants,
toxins, clearing of verdure
leave the vegetative world in gloom.
Their noiseless screams from death and wound,
discouragements, reminders of pain and mis-
fill the air, but drown in the humdrum
of the burgeoning human population.
Cosmic palaver of life stirs the green entities—
both giant trees and miniature species like algae—
who wordlessly react to them, striving and carefree,
enduring the moments of light and darkness,
blazing summers and freezing winters, gentle
and whirling storms, arrival of life and its
Ways to end the trespassing footprints,
torments of human interventions,
unloading their incessant purgatories
on the green, verdant creatures of nature seem
unless they learn to lend a voice to their cries. 


Unusually long time for filling up my water tank
arouses my suspicion.
A neighbor is stealing my water.
I confront him, charging him with it.
He hovers over several excuses pleading not guilty.
I cannot turn a blind eye to the witnessed utility
A thief, perhaps a kleptomaniac, unable to control
his urge
to steal from a place of abundance.
Without any supply shortage, he appropriates water
to save expenses on running the electric pump.

Goldilocks reaches an unlocked house in the forest,
sees porridge spread on the dining table to cool.
Delicious aroma from the steaming bowls draws her
She tastes the bowls of Mama bear, Papa bear,
but finds the one of the Baby bear to be just right.
When she finishes eating and looks up,
the three bear are right in front—wide-eyed, gaping.
Defying the need for permission, she celebrates her
Ridiculed, the three bear—utterly stupefied—
stare at her when she asks for proof of her pilfering.

Similarly, I have no evidence of the thievery.
A photograph or a video will suffice my point,
as if catching him red-handed isn’t enough.
I remain bewildered at his audacity
to conduct surreptitious burglary,
lending an air of subterfuge.
With a bitterness hanging in the air,
I return to the solitude of my room.
I pray for a world without deception and purloining,
hoping my wish will be fulfilled.


Unseen wounds—old and new—accumulate like
on the mind’s river bed,
sometimes washed by the current of daily lives
to distant shores as time schedules,
at times stuck like stubborn stains on clothes.
When one bites into the labyrinth of consciousness—
lacerated with torture and agony—
they taste like the metallic tinge of despair.
In moments of desolation, scare and torment,
they resurface, uninvited, each of their
ugly faces contesting for attention—
a prey in the threatened grip of birds’ talons,
an insincere existence of wisdom tooth
hassling with sudden, occasional aches.
Like Bhishma’s bed of arrows, one lays
floating in the air around, ungrounded.
Each arrow stinging with regrets, vices,
said–unsaid hurt, pain, betrayal, sins—
the list endless, extorting the quiet.
Unlike Bhishma’s boon, the voluntary egress from
the never-ending passage of emotional anguish is
as the stairway for its easy ingress remains

Note: Bhishma is a major character in the Hindu 
epic, Mahabharata. He reclines upon the bed of 
arrows on the battlefield, waiting for the auspicious 
moment to choose his time of death. 

Your eyes are the vessels where beauty manifests,
the unparalleled sublime, mesmerizing creation,
the windows through which you gaze upon the
through which love and tenderness find voices to
Your calm eyes serve as channels to spread warmth,
I long to be bathed in that gaze of comfort.
Your lotus eyes—an awakening of life in full
a living embodiment of the divine.
Your ethereal eyes are the conduits for the galactic
forces of creation and preservation.
I wish to take refuge under the wings of your eyes,
like a spider suddenly slipped down from its silken
exposed, rushes back to hide somewhere safe,
when its home in the gigantic world is momentarily
out of sight.
Sheltered under your affectionate glance,
like a traveler under the tree’s shade
in midst of the scorching sun,
your eyes route me back to life,
when lost in the world’s cursed temptations.
Your eyes embellish my soul,
I experience the ambrosial pudding of contentment,
the cherries of satisfaction and fruits of solace.
Your open eyes depict the sunshine of my universe;
when they close, they determine my deliverance. 


Paperboys exhibit excellent memory,
know exactly where to deliver which newspaper.
I forget to return to my house of contentment
in my head when stuck in a muddy, sorrowful
Migratory birds have eidetic memory,
remember the only way back home
after a long winter vacation in a warmer foreign
I forget my achievements in difficult phases,
linger over the trivial failures.
Shopkeepers have a photographic memory of the
a level of unparalleled expertise honed specially
with mental calculations of purchase.
I neglect the value of happiness, underprice its
dwell over the sad moments in isolation.
Ant colonies remember their habitual trail systems
year after year,
older ants transfer to the younger ones the
of progressions,
the next generations retain and reproduce the
previous path.
I fail to follow the course of satisfaction,
accustomed comfort routes of my understanding.
Enduring memory though the deleterious
will soon find a way to extinction.
My memory slowly establishes like a book,
consciously I get entangled in episodic and
semantic memories.
I release the button of unlearning, clear the road
jams of mental traffic
only to find what has been learned has already
been forgotten.


Teardrops sparkle in my eyes like gleaming dew-
the day losing its physiognomy to the darkest of
Calm wavers in my eyes like the lightning in a
murky sky—
playing hide and seek amidst the tumultuous
weather of my mind;
a shudder flowing through its great countenance,
perpetrating a tensed agitation of mysterious
A crowded kitchen sink or a busy countertop
resembles my thinking abode—
constant cleaning of the leftover food of regrets,
wiping up the spills of expectations,
closing open containers of sorrow,
tossing out empty bottles of worries,
washing, sweeping and tidying the internal
At times successful, mostly a failure,
my intellect giving way to frenzied emotions.
My eyes have the intensity of a bottomless pit—
riotous, yet unknown, in my realm of
brimming with heartaches that can hold no longer.
Precipitation at first inconsistent, then free-flowing
like rain,
I mourn my weaknesses concealed
behind a false façade of strength;
I repent the aspirations that birthed in my mind’s
but emerged as stillborn.
I grieve all natural sorrows, loss of both living and
Uncontrolled release from my eyes like a dam burst,
I remind myself of the difficult phases survived.
But inexorable tears appear to be soothing,
easing my tensed inner being—
a sweltering day getting relief in the comfort of a
I see a rainbow when the light
of my eyes scatters from my teardrops.
When its fragments disperse in every corner,
the rainbow-hued space brightens
as colors spill into my monochrome air,
calling an end to my belated miseries, a much-
needed respite.


Today’s LittleNip:

Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.

—Henry David Thoreau


Newcomer Sreelekha Chatterjee’s poems have appeared in various magazines and journals, such as
Raw Lit, The Mini Magazine of Assam, Verse-Virtual, The Wise Owl, Ghudsavar Literary Magazine, Orenaug Mountain Poetry Journal, and Ukiyo Literary Magazine, as well as in anthologies such as The Harvest & the Reaping, Winter Glimmerings, Whose Spirits Touch (Orenaug Mountain Publishing, USA) and Christmas-Winter Anthology Volume 4 (Black Bough Poetry, Wales, UK). She can be reached at Facebook:, X (formerly Twitter): @sreelekha001, and Instagram: @sreelekha2023/. Welcome to the Kitchen, Sreelekha, and don’t be a stranger!


 Sreelekha Chatterjee

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