A deer park, a duck lake, a fort—
“It’s colder here, isn’t it?”—
“Yes; we’ll walk fast, ok?”
Distress clouds your eyes:
“You should’ve got your coat.”
“It was sunny when we came out.”
(Ma chère, what’s gone through the sieve…
what’s stuck in the net, we receive
like cactus flowers in a drought.)
“It’s still October,” says our friend.
She’ll be only too glad to take an auto.
We press on to the lake.
The fort was restored to defend
the water from the Mongol hordes.
These Khilji-Tughlaq ruins now boast
of peacocks, lovers and ghosts;
no one remembers Taimur’s sword.
The dusk is smoggy, the village is lit-up.
We hear jazz, Sufi,
and debate on rum or coffee.
“To not drink would be sacrilege!”
We each order one-and-a-half
measures of rum: the cold retreats.
Good I didn’t get the coat, it cheats
me of the warmth of friends.
—“Or rum?”
—And we laugh.

Uttaran Das Gupta

Uttaran Das Gupta was born in Calcutta, India, and read English at Jadavpur University. His poems and articles have appeared or are forthcoming in Reading Hour, Magnapoets, Raedleaf,Ful crum, Open Road Review, The Sunflower Collective, The Dhauli Review, Strip Tease, Café Dissensus and Indian Literature, and have been translated into Bengali and Telugu. He is a journalist with Business Standard, New Delhi, where he frequently reviews books and films. He is also a member of The Sunflower Collective. At present, he is working on his novel and was at the Sangam House Residency in January. His poetry has been shortlisted for the Raedleaf Poetry Competition 2016 and his short stories have been shortlisted for Juggernaut Short Story Prize 2016 and Open Road Review Short Story Contest 2016.