Damp vapor engulfs my existence;
the heat runs up to my ears.
The city is a hallucination,
dizzy with excess life –
churning my stomach
into a violent nausea.

In the night,
somewhere in the back yard,
small lives hum and buzz,
jackfruits drop – plop, burst open,
and expose their ripe interiors
of sickly sweet-smelling seeds.

Moisture clings to the leaves,
the heavy monsoon
intermittently sprays
the earth – a natural fertilizer,
inducing plants to sprout
from the crevices of broken houses.

Like blood cells, busy bodies
run through the city.
Cloaked in cacophony,
buses, boats, trains and trams,
hurry aside cows, monkeys
dogs, birds, snakes and man.

The city humors life, teases it,
even in its darkest corners,
hidden from social life,
somewhere secret, warm, and soft
grows unspeakable life,
like cancer, like the city itself.


“Calcutta: An Ode to an Unborn Life” first appeared in from These Fine Lines : Poems of Restraint and Abandon, Ed. Itisha Giri, SAFU: Kathmandu, 2016.

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Ajapa Sharma
Ajapa Sharma is the co-founding editor of Mithia Review, a journal of international science fiction and fantasy. She is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she works on ideas of self, identity and nation in mid-twentieth century South Asia. She has been affiliated with the CET-University of Wisconsin Academic Program in India and is deeply invested in teaching and education in diverse and multicultural environments. A recent graduate of the summer program at the Institute for World Literature (Harvard University), her poetry and nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, These Fine Lines, The Kathmandu Post, and Studies in Nepali History and Society, among other publications. You can find her on FacebookTwitter, and Academia.edu. Website: ajapasharma.com.