ABOUT SIDDHARTHA BOSE
I was born in Calcutta and spent the first five years of my life there. This city, which was once the second city of the British Empire, was where English literature was fi rst introduced as a discipline of study, to civilise the natives. I spent the next eight years in Bombay, and returned to the
city of my birth for another five before moving to the USA on my own when I was eighteen. After seven years in America, I moved to London in 2005 on a British government scholarship. I have lived in London ever since.
My writing grows out of this fractured upbringing across three continents. The linguistic eff ects of this fracturing are peculiar. I grew up with three languages (English, Bengali, and Hindi) and started learning another (French) when I was fourteen. Strangely, given the formative years of my schooling took place in Bombay, I cannot read what is – ostensibly – my mother tongue (Bengali), though I still speak it. I am illiterate in the language of my ancestors.
‘Elegy, Father’s City’ emerges from this illiteracy. I spent my
adolescent years fl âneur-ing through the streets of Calcutta. Yet, I
am forever severed from it as I read the great literature of the city,
in translation. This long poem is my a empt at translating the city back to myself, in English, the language that still colonises the modern Indian state, and mind. This translation, the poem, is filled with fragments, a sense of the incomplete, li le alleyways of thought and image, half-spoken u erances. It is also a poem of mourning, and in that sense, it is haunted by ghosts, like Calcu a itself, and fed by the ghosts of words I can’t read, but only see as strange hieroglyphs, borne across, translated, from a broken, voiceless past.