November 2003

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At the Indian Museum, Calcutta

Wandering through the corridors,
immense stairways, galleries,
you meet the mnemonics of the past
meticulously arranged on pedestals
and in display cases.

The detritus of centuries, eras, aeons:
fossilized plants, dinosaur bones,
Egyptian mummies, Roman helmets,
Mughal coins, British cannons.

What is left for us in the spindrift
after the fleeting tides have gone?
Hierarchies of dynasties, colonial empires, the paraphernalia of civilization --
all swallowed, inexorably,
by the quicksands of history.

Drops of dust gather in the eyes,
vacant and unseeing
on the marble busts
of Greek philosophers.

© Srinjay Chakravarti.  All Rights Reserved.

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