Goutam Ghosh

The Kalpana/ Goutam Ghosh, Seat of Darya Devi ,Riverbed sand stone and light box, Sculpture- 14 x 13 x 4.5 inches, Light box- 12.5 x 13 x 2 inches, 2019 

Reading the palm, does one call it palmistry or palm-story.

She was the river goddess, Darya Devi, leaving deep marks on the face of the earth for many reasons. Kalpa. Her last incarnation was on a British ship sailing between India and Mauritius, trade merged with avarice and the blood of conquest, but the rivers began flowing as she stepped on the land. Salty grey land in the shape of the tortoise, the land of the Kurma avatar.

You said: it’s evolution. We came from the sea. And civilizations flowed and grew on the paths of rivers.

But the river is dry now. The land is cracked, dust blows here and there on the grass. The earth is too warm for life, too warm for the tortoise. There is no flow, no movement from the upstream to the downstream, no release. There is the canyon, with its cracks, lines, faults, and shadows.

You said: you can say a lot, track its movements, from where it came and where it goes, you can trace its marks in the different shades of colour, sediments. You can feel it flowing if you know how to look, as it was, and will be again.

Will be again? Gaia? Will the algae dance, and sing in the desert?

You said: the next generation will travel through time, like us, but in a different direction. Things we learn now will be unlearned, what is dug now will be covered and dug up again, we walk, they will swim, the earth will remain.


I should not be here. But should anyone be? We have indeed found water, but all that remains of it on this hypothetical seed world Earth 127 is underground ice. Finding ice here is more precious than those other things we used to dig up, once upon a time. Oil, diamonds, cadavers.

Up on the surface there is aluminum fog, and the brown salt ash that can be seen from space, the pale white dot of a yellow sun.

Our task here is to find possibilities of rebooting life, and gather fossil evidence of our ancestors if we can find any. Some forms of sand are helpful in preserving fossil life, but I am not certain this is the Earth we are looking for.


Not an exact science, this: a palmistry of the river. Science can predict, but the astrologer can sense. A Scientist without intuition remains sensible. An astrologer without intuition is a zombie. The river goddess’s fate is entwined with the fate of the river. Her death is where it ends, her rebirth is where it flows again.

You said: the earth tastes of salt. This land has always been dry. But it is now rich in minerals.  


said: the river has gone to hell. Sucked into the earth by gravity.

You sound freaked out: gravity works against you. Gravity has taken your betters.


Last night, the death of your grandmother. And then the river bearing the name of the goddess has now left the valley too and abandoned the river bed.

Do you see any coincidence? Why did your grandmother and the river left the valley at the same time?


When we landed there was nothing. There was hostile heat and dry earth. The volcanoes were quite alive. They used to live here once. This used to be lush green once. They walked here on this earth without floating. We have discovered ruins. Abandoned buildings. Tools. Scripts. Many languages. They were so proud of their language that they sent an archive of everything to the planetary moon to preserve it for posterity. It seems a simple enough system, the characters. But there are no words to tell us what those characters mean. The whole is a maze, like spirals within spirals. And we also discovered the hand.


You said: scripts wrapped in a mirage. An illusion of intent and purpose in what is but coincidence. You can read the river’s past and future, but you cannot read the river’s intent. There is none. No logic but the movement from upstream to downstream. There is no Eastern mysticism shit here. It’s just, you know, what is.

But you also said that you hoped the earth remembered you. Remembered you through your words, through your movement, kept your trace through time. Kept a trace of you and this moment, with memories below you and the white fire of the stars above. In the spring the stars take the form of a fish, bringing nostalgia.


The priest who rings the temple bell tells us of fish tracks in the dry riverbed.

While palmistry tells the future, purnasmriti takes our memories back to past lives. Forgetfulness is the virtue of the joyful, the damned know the sins that make them miserable.

She was forgetting everything, as she raced to the future. Too many memories, too little space for them all. But she was happy. The real future would have made her miserable. We used to laugh at her great forgetfulness.

Life is the complete awakening of one consciousness. It can be the consciousness of a planet. Or a river. A moment that captures all moments, all the pasts and all the possible futures to come. It appears like a flash, like a blueprint, like a proton image. Like a lightning strike leaving lines of fire in the dark and then disappearing after an instant.

You said: look at the sand. We can tell its history. With diffraction. But it means shifting our focus from object or patterns in the foreground to those in the background. It means switching the negatives with the positives and vice versa. Traces.

Marks left in carbon. In fossils. ¨

How old is this memory?

7000 years. The river goddess came and the river with her. The mountains and the glaciers. Before it all came the tortoise and the land was born. Before it all it was just the waters. You can keep going back. Purna-smriti has no end just like the future has no end.

You picked up the fossils of sea creatures, also known as ammonites that became extinct millions of years ago. The fossil manifestation of an unknown Sleeping God.  

Text courtesy by The Kalpana