Notes from Bakreshwar

My friend B, visiting from Minnesota, had no idea that the Indian nights could be this dark. The bus leaves us under a tall tree by the highroad, like the priest said it would.

We are on our own from here, on our feet. I remember seeing prairie lights from my last trip in this area, but tonight there are none. Using B’s flashlight, we approach cautiously through the dirt road, no lamps, no houses nearby, on both sides only grassland and a few shallow ponds. Wherever he focuses the light, we explore a whole new world: a pair of green frogs copulating under a big ear leaf, a water snake crossing the road with small fish in its fangs. Being caught in the light, it throws away the fish and swiftly goes by. The fish, still alive, thumps its tail in the mud like a child whose mother left him.

A dog barks informing the priest of our arrival. The priest comes out holding an oil lamp. He welcomes us inside where we discover the priest has six young daughters—all are the most beautiful things I ever have ever seen. With their huge dark eyes, they stare at B’s Christ-like, bearded face. I can tell this is the first time they are seeing a white man.

Sankar Roy, originally from India, is a poet, translator, activist and multimedia artist living near Pittsburgh, PA. He is a winner of PEN USA Emerging Voices, a Rosenthal Fellow, a finalist for Benjamin Franklin Award, winner of Skipping Stone Award, a finalist for University of Arkansas Open Book Competition and three-times semi-finalist for Crab Orchard Review Competition, author of three chapbooks of poetry – Moon Country, The House My Father Could Not Build,and Mantra of the Born-free (all from Pudding House, 2006, 2007). He is an associate editor of international poetry anthology, Only the Sea Keeps: Poetry of the Tsunami (Rupa Publication, India and Bayeux Arts, Canada).