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Impossible Landscapes : Sharmila Ray

Sharmila Ray is a poet and non-fiction essayist, anthologized and featured in India and abroad. Her poems, short stories and non fictional essays have appeared in various national and international magazines and journals. She teaches in City College, Kolkata under Calcutta University where she is an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of History. She was on the English Board of Sahitya Akademi. She was the editor of The Journal (Poetry Society India) and looked after a column Moving Hand Writes, Times Of India, Kolkata. She writes in English and has authored eight books of poetry; Earth Me And You (Granthalaya, Kolkata 1996), A Day With Rini (Poetry And Art 1998), Down Salt Water (Poets Foundation, Kolkata 1999), Living Other Lives (Minerva Press, New Delhi, Mumbai, London 2004), It’s Fantasy, It’s Reality (Punaschya, Kolkata 2010), With Salt And Brine (Yeti Publishers, Calicut 2013), Windows (Blank Rune Press, Australia 2016), Scrawls And Scribbles (Hawakal Publishers, Kolkata, 2016). She conducted poetry workshops organized by British Council, Poetry Society of India, Sahitya Akademi. She had been invited to International Struga Poetry Evenings, in Macedonia where she represented India and International poets meet in Kerala to share stage with Ben Okri. She was the only poet writing in English from West Bengal to participate in VAK –the first poetry biennial held in New Delhi. She has been reading her poems in various parts of the country. Her poems have been translated into Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Manipuri, Slovene, Hebrew and Spanish. Currently she is working on a manuscript of non-fictional essays. 

Author photograph : Inam Hussain Begg Mullick  

Impossible Landscapes 


The merciless glare of a May afternoon in Kolkata has something melancholic about it. If you are lucky you can have the privilege of staying indoor and, perhaps, indulge in a siesta or sprawl on the floor sucking orange ice cream on a stick. I did none. Rather sitting in my room I was quietly becoming aware of my breath, first a bit shallow then slowly turning to even-spaced and lulling. With each breath I was climbing one thought after another. Obviously the idea that I loved best was to don no mask, my heart tumultuous, surrendering to impossible landscapes.

    Naturally impossible landscapes sounds weird or even foolish. But no. Let me explain. From the outset you intuitively know that in a way you can never be a part of it, yet savouring the moment from the tiny little itch on the tip of your nose to the imaginary tall glass of iced melon and mint tenderly caressing you while your eyes blink at the rising sun with its taste of scorching warmth. You can abandon yourself to passion without worrying about being rejected or made fun of. To really appreciate these pleasures one has to be a part of one's own predesigned terrain injecting life with one's own heartbeat an positivity. Of course there are moments of agony and impatience and a sense of nostalgia that feeds on other nostalgias and grows, stretches, swarming  all the way to the sky. Sounds impossible, but there it is and I love exploring  unknown, unheard of tidbits. 

   The landscape is not place-specific. Here space and stillness, silence and commotion with its freshness linger over the land. The storyline connects the sun, rain, clouds, ferns, deciduous leaves, streams, ripples, ledges and hundred other things. The topography is structured and layered by light and shade. The gods give you a chance to love intensely. From the first dew on the lotus to the warm cement that crack in the afternoon heat, all crave your deep attention. You walk along with someone whom you cannot see but only feel and hear the footsteps. Your parched life vanishes. You smell rain and mist in spite of pollution and heat. The small rectangular city verandah transforms into a courtyard overflowing with pink flowers and a soft northern light. You are filled with sensual happiness. You become a part of this dialogue with the universe.

   The fun lies in rediscovering this simplicity of emotion, hence truth. These are our trump cards that we perpetually lose in the web and tangle of daily grind. Sometimes, I believe we need that exile to celebrate the solitude that lies hidden within our folds awaiting the lone you.



Beautifully presented
Ascetic Dandy said…
One of the best things I read. Such cadenced prose, such delicacy of thoughts need long cultivation, an aesthetics of living, a life of the mind. Stay well and keep writing, your writing makes the earth beautiful. Ascetic Dandy

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