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Thursday, 17 December 2020 04:16

Random LIGHT by Dr. Swagata Sinha Roy Featured

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My first memory of LIGHT

I do not recall,

But my ‘daak naam’ seemed to have

a luminous circle around it.

I guess it pays to choose to come

into the world on days like Diwali.

When I realized that I am actually called LIGHT

I kind of laughed out loud … yeah right!

Light on my feet I am certainly not.

And light as a … feather(?) …no, don’t even go there.


At three, I was fascinated by the streetlight

Outside my Mashi’s house in Kuala Pillah.

The darwan (as my Mesho called him), much to the chagrin

Of my Anglicized cousins, who in unison would say

‘watchman, Baba’.


…. Where was I?

Yes, the darwan , the watchman

would make his rounds tapping his staff.

And stand at the light post – he scared the dayLIGHTs out of me.

Tall, scraggly, uniformed, with a ‘cane; as I saw it.


Next vivid memory is

of Baba getting the ‘kerosene’ lamp to work

whenever there was a power outage …

‘load-shedding’ Ma would say,

And the flickering light

cast shadows on the blank walls.

And I imagined stories

that never could be told.


When much older, it was

the LIGHTing of the pradeep in the puja room

LIGHTing diyas during festivities

especially at Kali Pujo and Diwali

And Xmas trees all lit up

in neighbour’s homes.


Then came the fascination with words – idioms/proverbs

to be LIGHT years away

to cast LIGHT on something

to see the LIGHT of day

and …. Lines from the Good Book - Let there be LIGHT and there was LIGHT


Then rolled in the music –

the bhajans , kirtans, the hymns in the chapel hall,

a LIGHT that never comes;

you LIGHT up my life;

Come on baby, LIGHT my fire… really?


And the voracious reading….from

All the LIGHT you cannot see to

the LIGHT between Oceans that broke your heart,

barely making you grasp

the unbearable LIGHTness of being

in the LIGHT of what we know


One day not too long ago I remember when I said,

“No, there is no LIGHT at the end of the tunnel.”

And an older, wiser one told me,

“You yourself are LIGHT;

you are a lamp.

That’s what you are DEEPA.

It is fine not to be

a flooding LIGHT.

It is totally okay

to be just a ray!”



Daak naam - a name you are addressed by (like a nickname)

Mashi – maternal aunt Kuala Pilah – a town in one of the states south of Kuala Lumpur

Mesho – maternal aunt’s husband

Baba - father

pradeep – a ‘light’ holder

puja - prayer

Kali Pujo – prayers for the goddess Kali

bhajans – devotional songs

kirtan – songs of praise during worship



Dr. Swagata Sinha Roy has been a facilitator in education for more than 30 years, having worked in educational institutes in Brunei and in different parts of Malaysia. She is interested in reading and writing about, as well as discussing the diaspora, her Bengali roots, issues of identity, narratives for children, and most recently, popular culture and social media toxicity. Currently, she is with a Malaysian university, nurturing her passion to get learners to enjoy the written word. She organizes book and poetry clubs in Kuala Lumpur and enjoys experimenting with different forms of poetry and getting to read poems aloud. For her every poem is a conversation. She is deeply grateful to be extraordinarily ordinary. She can be reached at

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