Nitu Banerji

Nitu Banerji was born in India and described himself as a Bengali by birth, culture and language, but an Australian by adoption with love. He was a surgeon by training and a poet and philosopher by inheritance. He began writing poetry in the late 1980s and was a founding member of the Multicultural Writers’ Association.


I love to listen
to your quiet voice.
I love to look
at your big eyes
changing colour
like the sky and seas.

We talk of things
of no consequence
only to avoid talking
about things we want
to talk about
all the time.

We want to be together
but we find excuses
to run away
from each other
only to pine and wait
to meet again.

We avoid talking
about the past
lest they hurt.
More we push
the memories back
they rush forwards.

We cannot talk anymore.
We look at each other
in silence. When we long
to be close to each other
we touch the hands
with hesitation.

When we long
to make love
we talk of food,
arrange the table
to sit at each end
with no desire to eat.

When the time comes
to say farewell
your big eyes change colour.
I imagine a drop of tear
rolling down your cheek
I struggle to stop mine.

From No. 15 Friendly St. Poetry Reader


I try to tell you
the stories of the epics
Ramayan and Mahabharat.
You do not want to listen to me.
You tell me
the stories of the epics
Odyssey and Iliad.
I wish I had not listened to you.

You tell me
Homer was the greatest
teller of the story
in human history.
I try to tell you
Valmiki and Vyas
were the earliest
literary talents
recognised and the best.

You sing praises
of the beauty of Helen of Troy
I sing praises
of the virtues of Sita of Ayodhya.
You confess
because of Helen
Troy was destroyed.
I admit
because of Sita
Shrilanka was burned.

You get rapture
reciting Shakespeare.
I get emotional
reciting Tagore of Bengal.

You enjoy eating
Sausages and mashed potatoes
I enjoy eating
Rice and curried tomatoes.

You tell me
the smell of spice
brings tears to your eyes.
I tell you
at the sight of eggs and bacon fried
I was sick and I cried.
You enjoy
vegies boiled and meat roast
butter and jam on a toast.
I enjoy
Dahl and Roti
curried chicken and chapati.

You love to argue and win
call me a ‘stinking wog’ with a grin!
I never get a chance to state
what I feel, only blame my fate
to have a ‘Memsahib’ as a mate!!

From No. 16 Friendly Street Poetry Reader

Calcutta Weeps

I made the British Empire.
I was the brightest jewel of the Crown.
The battle of Plassey
began it all in 1756.
The alien traders of a
new maritime order
defeated the degenerate
rulers from another world.
The blue, white and red cross
replaced the crescent moon and the star.

I launched the ships
to conquer the seven seas.
I made Britannia rule the waves.
Asia, Pacific, Terra Australia,
I built the biggest empire
of the modern times.
I made the queen of the
tiny islands in the North Sea
a queen empress of an empire
where Sun never set.

Now it is all gone.
Now the jewels are glass.
Now the Crown is a beggar’s cap.
Now a new flag flies over me.
Now a new statue of another
alien emperor stands on me.
He will also fall soon
with his red flag
with hammer and sickle.

I shall go on,
holy river Ganga flowing
through me from eternity to eternity.
Thousands living on my pavements,
being born and dying there.
Hundreds hanging on the
running buses and trams
as if there were no tomorrow.
But tomorrow comes
with another broken promise.

From No. 17 Friendly St. Poetry Reader