Dr. Amitabh Mitra

"Three Purple Portraits" above by Volkmar Dobat of Indophot

Amitabh Mitra is a medical doctor in a busy hospital in East London, South Africa. A widely published poet on the web and in print, he has been hailed as one of the most popular South African poets writing in English today by the Skyline Literary Review, based in New York. Dr. Mitra incorporates his real world experiences of the societies and cultures of countries like India, Bhutan and Zimbabwe into his art and poetry. One reviewer has called him "a powerful voice dispersing a reverie of time and heritage," going on to say that "his love poems with a backdrop of feudal Gwalior and Delhi take you on a sentimental journey to the old family homes, forts, palaces and places where he grew up." His first book of poems, Ritual Silences, was published in 1980. A Slow Train to Gwalior, published by Harp Records, is a CD of his ten most popular poems recited against a background of African and Indian traditional music. A collection of his poems, drawings, visuals and prints—a juxtapositioning of words, lines and colors—was first show to the public at The Ann Bryant Art Gallery, St. Marks Road, East London from July 12 to July 28, 2005. Dr. Mitra edits The Hudson View, an international print poetry journal published from New York, USA. He is also the Chairperson of the East London Fine Arts Society.

Trees and shrubs grew next to
The railway lines
Jostling with people in carriages
Barely touching an everyday rain
We had grown together an army of
Unfamiliar thoughts
Unmoved by summers of reckoning
And wet in a once shared breath
A vast wind had closed all efforts
And a river has encroached
By us
How would then a sky store
Figments of such loving
How would you hold on to me
Long after the train has left.

I always believed in this train
That stole our thoughts
And traded them with
And I wondered if only
The train had such windows
Where the sky would creep in
And flood us
The desert outside would never be the same
The Chambal river tracking the sun
Would have traced you as always
Many a time
Before, do you remember
I had scaled
This river, the desert, another sky
Just to see you.

Isn’t it enough that we had met
And left
The train had not grown
As the whitewashed sky and the ravines
That dared to touch it sometimes
There are these strange summer birds
That have flown long
To be there
Pecking on seedless summer strands
You told me of thoughts
Penetrating a sundrop curtain
Following the birds following the train
Following eyes
As always.

I had driven a jeep to the ravines
With you sitting next to me
The sun got stuck in the muddy undergrowth
Eyes that refused to leave you
On a countenance that strayed sometimes
It was so dry in an unforgiving moment
You spoke in syllables
Cracked by a turgid river
Of brigand
And horsemen
Sweeping past another time
Another place
A mound
Once ripped
Open a thought
When you whispered behind a veil
Memories remain a familiar hoof throb
Beating against an angry air
At night.

I have loved you
My nose had drawn borders
On your cheek
Waging a quiet battle
To stop for long
Threats of an exile in quietude
Of a solemn river
Lips remained in unison
In dampness
Silence shuddered on unforeseen

I have loved you
And your turbulent
Hair that have overshadowed
Our knowing
You closed our eyes
Long back on my stride
Railway tracks in a desert
Fond dreams
Of birds that would follow us
Again another summer.