Monday, January 1, 2018

"An Indian Christmas" by Aparna Sanyal, Frequent Contributor

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present this “sneak peek” seasonal poem, “An Indian Christmas,” by one of our new Frequent Contributors, Aparna Sanyal.  Aparna will be formally introduced to the readership in the first weeks of this year as a Poet of the Week.  Her biography may be found on the “Our Staff” page.

An Indian Christmas
Aparna Sanyal 

Christmas isn’t easy to find in India
If giant trees and tinsel are
your kaleidoscope. 
If caroling elves and reindeer define 
your jolly time, then, this joyous 
sultry Yuletide, will be difficult for you 
to mine. 
It’s in the corners, but glowing. It radiates
from handcarts of chintzy red bubble-drop tree decor 
that shines with a
special ‘Made in India’ smile. 
It’s there in tiny homes lit by bare bulbs 
and mossy stained walls, that make 
trays of nutmeg- rose cookies, 
invite a reed-thin Santa Claus in to frolic 
and dance, as carolers show entirely 
too much enthusiasm with the 
neighbourhood drum kit. 
It’s in the midnight Mass, with lines of 
red satin and velvet-heeled giggly
maidens excited for their first sip 
of wine. 
It’s in that corner shop, that through the year, sells you 
your bread and milk,
and is now not festooned, no, 
but shyly accepting, accommodating 
of a wreath made of plastic holly and
found twigs.
That shop gives you 50p off on your pint of cream 
for the ‘Big Day’. 
And in the evening, polyester-bright, 
tight-suited, that shop owner comes to visit, with 
fresh-faced children and bright saree clad
wife, powder-faced and grinning,
starched handkerchiefs wiping away
moisture from the billion-greasy wind
on their faces. 
They sit with you, meet and greet, 
they wish you well, for a festival they 
see only on TV and in your keen eyes.
They eat the rose and nutmeg cookies
and truly, they smile.
They love you for you, for they 
are like you, 
and they have seen Christmas 
on the inside too. 

Poet’s Notes: I grew up in a mixed household with a Hindu dad and Christian mum. There are so many upsides to this! In India, Hindu festivals like Diwali are a big deal; the others like Christmas are a bit more sedate. I get to celebrate everything! So often, I’ve been considered ‘different’ because of this mixed parentage. It has been such a blessing!  It has given me a chance to see so much more love from people of different castes and creeds, people who open their hearts to me, and to other minorities in India. They have taught me the true meaning of Christmas and giving without reservation.

Editor’s Note:  What a lovely and interesting poem!  I enjoy the way it flows and sings while at the same time it educations.  I also enjoy the way it stimulates all of the senses, particularly taste.  I am definitely left wondering what a rose and nutmeg cookie might taste like.

I also find it interesting that Aparna’s “mixed” upbringing was such a positive experience for her--a tribute to the world’s largest democracy.  My experience being raised by a Jewish father and Catholic mother in the supposedly enlightened American democratic republic was mostly negative.

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