Sudeep Sen - Four Watercolours

for Alan Ross & Jane Rye

railway station, bombay

The coolie’s red jacket
partially hides
his blackened bones,

ones that show their fate
under white wrappings
of dhoti and turban.

He leap-frogs at you
with an electric sense
of urgency,

as you stumble out
with your own baggage.
Preconceptions rage

rampant here,
thick and heavy
in the stale humid air.

Slavery and commerce
jostle for their own
space. There is no room

for small kindnesses.
Only images captured
by sable-hair’s

trained ends, stroked
on hand-made paper
and glazed lacquer,

can afford to drown
their sorrows
in water and dye.


lodi gardens, delhi

In this medieval
burial ground, a dynasty
preserves its fading

grace. The grass, smooth
as a pashmina shawl,
carpets the brittle soil.

Here, under the watchful
eye of the mausoleum —
now lonely with disuse —

young lovers make out
their own space and
sense of new history,

lie in each others arms,
calm and agitated,
in the dead still of heat.


udaipur, rajasthan

On the desert sands,
a man and his wife
balanced tentatively

on a riot-torn bicycle,
chance a ride —
its precariousness

safer than the routine
gamble of their own
lives. The only solace

resides in the invisible
folds of the night-wind,
one that erases the daily

tread, hiding their story.
In the distance, across
tinted glass-mirage,

Udaipur Lake reflects
its quiet fate,
as dusk pastel-coats

the fort’s Rajput façade,
to make some sense
of its own past.


elm park lane, london

Amid the studio’s
book-stacked warmth,
finished images

cry out to escape
the posh transparence
of silicate-safe

confines, their own
colour-washed truths
defying the framed

uneven matt
of varnished wood.

by nature, are born
to bleed —
to accommodate secrets

incomplete pictures
leave untold —
to allow for our own

unstated desires,
and the blood’s
inadequate crimsom.