Prayag Ray

Pissing in Great Victoria Street & Aubade with a Dead Dog at the Peak of Monsoon

Prayag Ray

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Pissing in Great Victoria Street

After Stephen Sexton’s “Street Fighter II”

“No Ark for Kaziranga’s Rhinos—Thirteen Drown”. Elsewhere
the state swaps pellet guns on protesters for chilli shells. Absurdly,

it is warm here in the corner pub at the end of Great Victoria Street
where I’m app-drunk, news-blue, breathing rings like a Celtic dragon. Let us

go then to the Line of Control but only in pictures where soft focus
sets the story to song, where Uri sounds like a pebble in water, warbling,

where Priya, rape survivor turned comic-book superhero, is back in a new role
— this time she's fighting acid attacks, inspired by the epics.

To Kolkata where the rickshaw man’s umbrella is made out of bags
and my mother, alone and arthritic, totters home to cook poshto, taking

Xanax before bed. Here I must recall the time Priyanka didn’t study,
swallowed nine pink pills in the morning and boked her way to school.

Indigenous words for boke—bomi, Bengali; ulti, Hindi, which means up-
side down as well. How apt, I think, and squat here useless like some severed thing

wriggling at the news: Isro’s PSLV-C35 places SCATSAT-1, seven other
satellites in orbit; Modi wears a fabulous hat; meanwhile headless bodies kick

at things they cannot beat, then, more meat than man, lie still,
until the untouchables come to the railway tracks, gathering up the pieces.

I’m thinking about going back, teaching in the villages, but really
I’m in the Gents', pissing, directing the stream up, up-down, left-right.

Meanwhile an increasingly corpulent part of my soul says would I? Fuck,
I wouldn’t swap my life for theirs; here on Tiny Island, I’m pretty good.



                 Aubade with a Dead Dog at the Peak of Monsoon
after Padraig Regan's "Aubade with Half a Lemon on the Summer Solstice"

                                      Sleep was a heavy rain
                                            after we returned
                                        from burying the dead
                                    exposed on the ghat’s soft
                                             belly as the sun
                                      exploded through a crack
                                in the monsooncloud cupola. The
                                    opened head of a dog had
                                   been left outside our shanty,
                                   weeping blood into the drain
                                           outside. The drain
                                          corresponds with its
                                       swollen eyes; the head
                                          corresponds with a
                                        lunch of bhaja deem &
                                      ghee melting into a plate
                                     of watery rice. It donated
                                   its other half to the piquancy
                                          of tiretreads. I drink
                                       my glass of toddy soon
                                            & a rage I didn’t 
                                    know I had begins to howl
                                           bolo hori, hori bol.


                                   -----------------------------------


                                          ghat: riverbank
                                 bhaja deem: deep-fried egg
                                     ghee: clarified butter
                                     toddy: country liquor
          bolo hori: religious chant, literally “take the name of Lord Krishna”


Prayag Ray


Prayag Ray is a PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast, doing English. He completed BA and MA degrees at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, and an MPhil at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is an editor with The Open Ear, and the Deputy Editor of Queen's Political Review. He has published non-fiction in The Tangerine, and a chapter in Critical Posthumanism and Planetary Futures (Springer: 2016). His PhD research is on conceptions of Hinduism in eighteenth-century literature and colonial discourse.