Parting - Avik Sarkar

Barishal, Bangladesh during the Partition of India, 1947


It is monsoon when they part,

when the water lilies sprout like tiles,

painting mosaics of rose and jade beneath

my grandmother’s feet. She sings prayers, words

erupting like gasps under her breath.

Stretching her veil up and over, scouring the market,

venerating the rain—sheets of glass, particles

reflecting the sweet limes heaped

on each other in pyramids—she recalls

the emerald beads her sister gave her

before her parting, searches her neck for their indent.


She bows to choose a lime as a child

wrenches a lily from the water. Droplets explode,

drench my grandmother’s veil, clasped

to her face, and she drowns in a cry—remembering

it was monsoon when her sister parted,

wrested from fragile arms—and then a wail.

Up at her the child stares, turns to leave, face streaked

with glassy rain—my grandmother recalls

her sister’s voice, in fragments, remnants

of mosaics—and under her breath she whispers

Come back, come back. But

the lilies float on, apart.