Photograph by Susanta Banerjee
Photograph by Susanta Banerjee
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  St Petersburg  

  Vol IV : issue 4

  Cover page
  David Lelyveld
  Joginder Paul
  Antara Dev Sen
  Evald Flisar
  Amrita Pritam
Nirupama Rao
  Only in Print

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Nirupama Rao


The light here is special. Drenched by blood and frost

So much has happened here. Bronze horseman, burning homes,

Nine hundred days written into symphonies of emptied tear ducts.

"The iron lacework of fences," words of the favoured poet,

I came here to see more than just the railings. My eyes emptied you

Of every detail, draining the swamp, imagining the father finishing son,

Here in this quiet summer house; a death that was not foretold.

In the cold, congealing winter, the line forms of people like ants

Hands outstretched for ice cream, defiant, no defeat this

Even as soldiers, and mothers, and lovers

Saw death’s mission done.

The canal waters are smooth, and the oligarchs make

Patterns with their sleek car on Nevsky Prospekt,

And at the Marinsky, candied ceilings, music pitting the walls,

I think of how it must have been

To beg for black bread on the banks of the slow, straining river.


Nirupama Rao is former spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. She lives in Delhi