Rongtong – by Sumana Roy

by TBLM

The houses protrude from the hills like buck teeth.
But this is no mouth. It’s like Siliguri’s rolled-up sleeve.
Pink, yellow, anaemic blue – the houses, the molars.
They’re like leaves, competing for light.
I notice their stillness,
how they never shiver from the cold.
The windows rattle, I know, though I can’t hear them now,
but the wind could be mistaken for insects.
They eat similarly, perhaps.
I haven’t seen them copulating though –
neither insects, nor the winds.
Rongtong – it could be the name of an insect,
one trapped in a jar, treating the glass as food.
It could be the name of the wind too,
the rhythm of advance and retreat. Rong Tong.

Hill Cart Road behaves like a priest, waiting for converts.
I’ve stopped. The car is getting back its breath.
The tyres are losing heat, regaining innocence.
On the left are houses abandoned by children’s drawing books –
triangles on squares, the eaves half-broken,
as if erased by an absent-minded child.
All houses are related, I know.
Like men, like their hair and eyes,
and how they shiver.
The toy train passes by, its smoke a blob,
like a soft-boiled egg that’s stuck to its chimney.
It is serious about its slowness,
as if that was its gift, like the sea is on a beach.
I see it move away, like a language teacher in school,
moving to another classroom.
All that remains is the pram-like gesture of its wheels,
the houses soaking that sound, muttering in echo.
The road and the rail lines merge far away,
like the buttocks of a wide-hipped woman
that meet only in our mind.