Friday, October 20, 2017

A History of the Fall

In the summer of 1936, there was a war
In the autumn of 2017, the war still is
The same enemy – power
The same dreams – freedom
In the summer of 1937,
three human fireflies
had fallen in Granada
Along with many other
Across the  world.
In the autumn of 2017, the fireflies
have fallen in swarms
The last seventy years,
like the seventy thousand before that
has been a history
of this fall
In the summer of 1936,
by some firefly-bereft dump
Three good people
Got bumped off.
As did many more in many other places
In the autumn of 2017
In a country where Barcelona
is football clubs for the elite
Two such fireflies
got it bad. As tanks entered Catalonia.
By then,
everywhere,
real fireflies were leaving
fast.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

letter from one weary bombay night


Come, dance, what else is there to do?
too much dust on the lenses. Fireflies fly no more, 
except occasionally;
Mocking bird mocks no more. It is sad. One mad donkey
named Civilization 
beats the dust, 
brays on. It is nothing.
I would have rather named it Platero
I would rather name each speck of stardust – Love
This will not change anything. This is not meant to. 
This is where, cities of the halogen night
meet naked rivers made of mist. This is where everything
turns into time. This is where we must dance. 
Nothing ever has been 
as beautiful
as this silence.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

...


the healing touch
a dot
that joins itself
within itself
all by itself
have you ever tried this
at home all alone
with everybody
tacit books and wise masks
with sad seaside balloon-sellers
through the sands
one gibberish city of mundane
arise arise
it has been good
neon
all the smiles
toasts raised
hoisted petticoats
flags of
who we are
mirrors of
subjectivity.  Mad time. One meme life. One bullet life.




But when all the chips were down,
history had gone to meet the daughter of the clouds.


  

Monday, September 25, 2017

Mr. Shantanu Bhowmik

there's no song for you tonight, Mr. Shantanu Bhowmik, 
some people will rejoice, we know who they are,
and this is not about them.

as for us, we are too scared of being judged
after all, your ancestors were criminals, as were mine
as you know, buddy, crimes across history does lead to anger across history. some people rejoice in this anger, it makes them powerful, we know who they are,
and this is not about them

as for us, we are too weary too churn
how, thoughts, actions, words, pictures - bring some people closer, thwart some asunder
like all histories have ever been doing - 
through all these wars and struggles big and small - across all these walls that we have built 
in the name of all the shit that frightens us, 
all that hollows us out, 
that chokes our music
and snuffs our candles - 
stern bricks like caste, race, creed, colour, religion, passport-stamps, public opinion, political mores of the enlightened et cetera et cetera.

personally, perhaps, a few of us will hum a timid tune or two for you, Mr. Shantanu Bhowmik, or sigh or weep for you - but all from deep inside these enlightened walls. like we sang and wept and sighed deep inside when that kid who got killed for wearing a shahid afridi tee-shirt had etched a small ripple across our respective information bubbles a few moons ago.
even then, some had rejoiced, 
but it was never about them.

it has always been about us. 
we are afraid
we are tired
ghosts haunt us every night

many moons down the line, these ripples will turn into smudges, and then, into indelible imprints,
and then, something incredible will happen
maybe, certain magic doors will open up 
maybe, the ghosts will stop haunting us,
the bullies will stop bullying us
the killers will stop killing us bit by bit
we have the privilege to imagine
we have the privilege to dream,
to learn
to climb trees and mountains;
we are alive
we are afraid of political incorrectness
we are tired of all the killings 
we are silent
we are screaming
we are criminals
we draw flowers
we draw pistols
ghosts haunt us every night
and the ghosts have taken all our songs for you tonight, Mr. Shantanu Bhowmik.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

বালিঘড়ি ও বাতিঘর

তুমি, যে বিমুক্তি নেবে অন্ধ আলোর থেকে
আলোকিত অন্ধকারের পথে, স্রোত থেকে স্রোতান্তরে –
তুমি, যে উজান ও ভাঁটা মিলে শূন্য হবে – তেপান্তরের ও’পারে রাখবে
নির্গ্রন্থ অক্ষরকাঁটা – জঙ্গলে মানুষের ঘ্রাণ, মানুষে সমুদ্রের
সমুদ্রে বসত করে অলীক জলপরী
মাঝে মাঝে উঠে আসে জ্যোৎস্নার বালুচরে ক্লিশের ক্লীবমুখ ছিঁড়েফুঁড়ে –
মাংসে চৈতন্য ছোঁড়ো, ছোঁড়ো পাথর কাঁটাতারে কার্ফ্যুতে
প্রেমবজ্র নিক্ষেপ করো যা কিছু দুখদায়ী, তাতে,
যে দুঃখ আপন নয় তাতেও কেঁদেছো বুঝি কিছু
নিভৃত সুন্দর কাঁদিয়েছে অভ্যন্তর আলিন্দে প্রাচীরে
কেঁদে কেঁদে ফিরে গ্যাছে দয়ালু নদীর ঢেউ নানাবিধ বিকেলের কাছে
ভেঙে দুই রাঙাপাড়, গিলে কিছু কেল্লা ও ফাটক
প্রিয় ইনকিলাব,
গাছ হয়ে যেও মাঝে মাঝে
চিঠি লিখতে ইচ্ছে করলে মানুষের মতো অনুভূত হয়  -

জানলা খুলে রেখো
বলা যায় না, চলেও আসতে পারে যে'কোনো উচ্ছ্বল একদিন
দু’একটা নির্লিপ্ত প্রজাপতি – পায়ে নিয়ে অবিস্মরণীয় রেণু!



Sunday, September 17, 2017

moon man & mother time

moon man is beautiful
moon man is wise
and when the world gets dead & dark
fireflies gather for advice
it is always evening here
too much thirst to quench
certain hearts shall flutter by
certain writhe and wrench
moon man's mother, she is time
she is sweet like flesh
little children pop their heads
and see the world afresh!
mama time, she knows it all
she shall ever do
moon man, he's strong & tall
and both of them are true.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Rohingya

40 thousand people
40 thousand phantoms
are marching towards you 
right now


you have taken their lands
you have taken to hatred
you have been taken by greed

they knew nothing of this
they knew everything
their backs, painted by barbwire,
cooked by bullets
know everything


40 thousand dreams
that couldn’t connect
how the price of onion & flour 
and the price of guns and tanks
and the wrath of Buddha
and the sword of Rama
would not let them 
return to their homes by sunset,
maybe, smoke a little,
and look at the river flowing by,
clouds making shapes in reds and oranges


so they turned with the tides,
with the agony of the moon, the weeping hills,
the alert golden winged vultures – 
with all history and being – 40 thousand vivid humans

first you didn’t count them
and now, you can’t
and, right now, 
in deep silence,
they are marching
towards you
towards the spot between your eyes
may 40 thousand nightmares be all yours tonight


Rohingya, flesh of me and my mother
soul of my sweet, big, ancient earth
you, 
friends,
shall live 
and they, who took your lands and bodies,
shan’t.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Naked Heart

the gun's too close
too thick the mist
your heart is black
so clench your fist

your heart is blue
your heart is green
your songs are true
your fireflies glean

like magic dots
in the heart of night
your heart is black
so rise and fight

your heart is a song
your soul is steel
the gun's too close
the river flows

where do you flow?
how do we row?
who there screams
in gypsy dreams?

who shall go
where the flames lie low?
your teacher was darkness -
the wolves shall know

the wolves make guns
the wolves made daggers
the wolves kill with swagger
the wolves have fun

and here you are
your shadows quiver
the moon is red
your heart is a giver

and the gun's too close
too beastly be the moon
so seek out from your dark
a naked, lonely tune.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Certain Questions for Ashurbanipal

weep, Ashurbanipal, your books burn
your thoughts lie in seize
their frenzy must be yours now, or else probabilities
might wreck through your strange pillars, certain 
kitchen-gardens, might tear forth clockfaces 
who are like old fighters with broken teeth


certain duties need to be performed 
so, king Banipal, the Ashur, tears off a leaf
There were many Ashurs after him,
a few might even have had charged into enemy columns
all by themselves,


one or two might even have had faded into marshlights
in some tiger-prowl fen, a few might have looked
down from the hills to see their huts burning
fields of gold-coloured crops turning into fields of gold-coloured flames, as they billow up, 
smoke covers nostrils of historians, - who, eyes wide shut
never sought to learn from all these fires - 
might not weep with you, ancient, regal Ashur with
a crown and a ruby perhaps, a belt of gold, 
Nile & Sudan coloured dreams off lion-glow skin and flesh in mud,
sweat, - as they see their scrolls & parchments aflame


(When the smoke gets thick enough, one often finds it tough to ascertain who's on which side)

Now tell us, mighty ruler of Nineveh, from many climes beyond, will you shoot
at the past - at history -
or will you shoot at the enemy now?


The palace is dark. Pillars frown down. The Ashur weeps for wisdom lost.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

naming names

fondly affectionate in equal measures towards all religion and war
as we roam the wilderness and dust, ever, universe-bound,
across all the roads of the world that bend towards our bodies,
our scars,
what name will you give
to these question marks, moonlit and stout,
that sweep softly along the dark brows of time?
and what name will you give to the banshee-child
that weeps softly by a secret little pond
where all the fishes, frogs and lilies have always known that all magic has ever been real?



Saturday, July 15, 2017

‘ফিরে এলো রসিক নাগর’ – জমজমাট পরিস্থিতি – সপরিবারে পাঠ করুণ


***
***
***

রসিক নাগর ফেরে পালটানো পথে।
বেরসিক নাগরিক কলা ব্যাচে রথে।।
ব্যাবিলনে ঘুঘুবনে ঘোরে হাহাকার।
বহি’ চলে অবিরাম বিষাদপাথার।।
পাথারে পাথর ভাসে, রসে ভাসে দেহ।
পঞ্চ প্রহরী তার চিনে কেহ কেহ।।
একদিন চিনে নেবে, জাপানেও নেবে।
আগুন গিয়েছে নিভে নগরী নিনেভে।।
নগরীর নটী অভিসারসহ কালের গর্ভে মিশি’। 
ভাঙনঘুমে ডুকরে ওঠে কাঙালপারা নিশি।।
আগুনে নিয়েছে কিছু, আঁধারেও আরো।
ইতিহাসে পাঁতিহাসে মিলি’ পোয়াবারো।। 
ভূমধ্যসাগরে যদি মধ্যম পথ। 
দেখিতেন বুদ্ধ তবে উড়ে যেতো রথ।। 
রথে চেপে শবরের মঠ লোঠে হিন্দু। 
হেরি’ছে এ’হ্যানো সীন বঙ্গনামা সিন্ধু।। 
কত কিছু ঘটি’ যায় মেদিনীর ধড়ে।
লাফাই’ উঠে উচ্চিংড়ে লাফায় কিছু ফড়ে।।
নানানজন নানানদিকে নানান কিছু ধরে।
টুঁটি ধরে চৈতন্যকাল মারণ-কামড়ে।।
পুলিশ ধরে মধ্যরাতে পেঁচোয় ধরে ভোরে।
আশমানময় নানানরঙা ধান্ধাঘুড়ি ওড়ে।।
জমিনময় সূত্রধরেরা লাটাই কষে ধরছে। 
সেই গুঁতোতেই আবাল কিছু কোল্যাটারাল মরছে।। 
রাখাল বালক বজ্রমুষ্ঠে ধরিয়া ধেনুর পুচ্ছ। 
নদীজলে বীর্য্য তাহার ঢালিছে গুচ্ছ গুচ্ছ।।
কারণ-অতীতে ডোম্বী-বীর্য্য টলাইলা চণ্ডালী। 
খরপর্বতে ডমরু বাজিলে নাচিবে কঙ্কালী।।
আজি যে বালক কাল সে যোগী ধরিয়া র’বে বিন্দু।
মাংসগল্পে কহিবে জাতক হইও সবার বন্ধু।।
জ্বলছে মাংস জ্বলিবে টায়ার জ্বলিতেছে গ্যাসোলীন। 
রহিবে রসিক চিরবিষাদী, রহিবে না আশাহীন।।



***
***
***

Thursday, July 6, 2017

নিশিথে


শেষরাতে পেলে কি তাকে, পেলে কি নিরঞ্জন? 
ঘরে চোর হয়ে ইঁদুর ঢোকে, নিশিথ ঢোকে বুকে
নানান মালঞ্চে তার ফণাফণা পড়ে আছে প্রেম, 
পড়ে আছে মায়াঘড়ি, অবলুপ্ত কড়িকাঠ-আদি 
পড়ে আছে, থাকবে বলে, বহু কাল হতে বহুতর 
কালান্তের পথে তার ধূসর চলিষ্ণু ছায়া, স্বপ্নের
মতো মরে যাওয়া, বেঁচে ওঠা জীবনের মতো - ভাসমান, 
এসো,
নানান রঙ্গে এসো, 
ভোর হলে, তেঁতুলের জঙ্গলে 
স্মরগরলে 
সবুজ আভার ভরে মায়াবী প্রজাপতি আসে, নিখাদ তৃপ্তির মতো,
অপার বন্দরে আসে, বহুকাল তৃষ্ণা কুড়োবে বলে খুদকুঁড়ো,
ব্রীজ বাঁধা শেষ হলে, যবে, ঘুমিয়ে পড়বে সবকটা কবি ও ফসল
তখন মানুষের কাছে আর কিই বা উষ্ণতা দেবে, ইছামতি, দাবানল?
বুকভরা জল কেটে অভিমান এঁকে যাও, সেই বুকে 
ঢুকবে নিশিথ
সেই জলে নামবে অতল কুমীর কিছু, স্মৃতির মতোই, 
অশ্রুমেয় - নামবে বলেই 
অপেক্ষমাণ, তটের কাছে, রাতের শেষে, 
কিরণ এলে, ছুঁলে কি তাকে? ছুঁলে কি নিরঞ্জন?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Nine Riders from Hell



Presented hereinbelow are translations of one poem each from nine Bengali poets who had embraced martyrdom in the early years of Naxalbari.

1. Saroj Dutta (encountered by police action on August 5, 1971)

Ratnakar

bloodied feathers fall on calm river
a sky chewed up through chest-smashing calls of parting
Hunter – the Nishadh –
He stands, shameless, stoic, stark in laughter,
Inebriation of non-violence in hand, red eyes,

Bandit Ratnakar awakes
sad questions in eyes, he stays awake, stunned by this sudden pain
two eyes of one swan – hurt to death
– strewn astray by feet
Rishi, speechless in shame, Vedic mantras make no answer

Golden dreams of fortitude in eyes,
the Hunter has won
From ashes of forgetting rises –
a past, aflame
Vessels of blood burn in brutal wrath,
Rishi burns in the hatred of denial

-- Today, by the rice-bereft hut, does she still stay awake?
His lover, her breasts are made of skin – does she hold a baby-skeleton to her?

In peals of laughter the Dasyu poet
– he tears those false flags of non-anger
Day of darkness, fulfilled,
to end by the dimly caving shores

2. Dronacharya Ghosh (tortured to death in police custody, 6th February 1972)

Prehistoric
Broken bones scattered everywhere, untouchable skeletons
One or two half-complete animals;
No light cuts through the vines & orchids to hit the eye
flint-sparks inside occult caves make sunlight

Borderlines of prehistoric humanity nearby
Mother of smooth, naked youth –
One community- one woman – piercing through the atmosphere
No other eyes

Ghastly sharp screeches of beasts
The ancient shape of skulls strewn afar
Suddenly, stone-dagger stabs rabbit-heart
Warm blood – inchmeal writhing and wriggling
Making love with own mother –
there’s some bloodshed in that too

Strewn astray, all around, rocks, diamonds, and
remaining human bones,
Passion for one or two eldritch arts
Stiff, doughty roars – desire of lioness before dead lion
Fades, slowly, to identity
3. Murari Mukhopadhyaya (killed by police firing in Hazaribag Jail, 24.07.1971)
Hiroshima Askance
If a boy, sullen, with ruffled hairs,
comes to me and says –
i wanted to be established in life
why did you kill me? if he asks –
i have never harmed you
why did you harm me?
could you, with all my bones,
slay those violent, hateful monsters that
stand against life?
then why did you not let me live?
What will i reply?
I am American,
we have killed that student from Hiroshima
while he was going to school.  

4. Timir Baran Sinha (beaten to death in Behrampore Jail, 24th February, 1971)
Walking, Sad
Some nights, I have cried
like wild rain
Poured fire on blind niches
Turned mad
Walked sad
In darkness
Through fields, bereft, after harvest…    
5. Amiya Chattopadhyay (beaten to death in Alipore Jail, 26th November, 1971)
Hunger of Land in the Face of Guns
Rain! Rain! It rains all day
In the hot hills of the northern country
On minds, humane, deep inside forests,
Blazing fires roar out in waves

Frightened warnings from the rear,
like brutal, caged beasts,
Seek to pull back minds that boil in fury of blood
Huzur, go ahead
attack the flames of the sun
foil all rebel-dreams with your thousand rancid forces

Soldiers who seek for you
Plucking experiences from dark hollows of time
They shall raise arms!
They shall make vicious enemies fail
They shall make them wither, one by one
Naked minds flare up
Forces billow up wild in fury,  
to lash out against enemy camps
 Heavenly dreams flop down like landslides
Inside hilly minds

Land roars out in hunger in face of guns
O humans, look!
Babies born today, in houses
of the workers and the farmers
Poked by bayonets, before the glinting sparks,
They dream of a new world!
6. Ashutosh Majumdar (Tortured to death in Jadavpur Police Station, 9th March, 1971)
Weaver, Weave Your Loom
What pledge shall I keep? On what trust?
Even today
Two minds do not meet
What hopeless oath shall I take?
Two minds do not meet

On what certitude must I go? Those pure outcries
Hit the ears, lucid evermore
Weavers weave looms in my mind
Knots clutter the mind up at times
It’s complicated

I think, with what hopeless pledge must i move?
Whether it will work, or whether it won’t? –
these two minds of the two
Troubled, all the while
Status quo brings weariness

Weaver, weave on your loom
Inside my mind

7. Tushar Chandra (Beaten to death in Burdwan Jail, 27th May, 1971)
In the Villages of India, Struggling for Freedom (Song-Lyrics)
In the villages of India, struggling for freedom
Countless farmers have risen
Behold, storm approaches!
Storm of revolt approaches!
Dashing through the vicissitudes
Hurling all that’s tattered asunder
Severe hurricane charges in
Farmers wage war in great anger
Shattering all shackles, hoisting the blood-red flag
Storm approaches…
8. Kalachand Dalal (Encountered by Police on 12th May 1972)
Broken Clouds and Broken Moon (song-lyrics)
Broken clouds and broken moon
Playing hide and seek
I row my boat down the wild river
Hoisting sails of freedom
Playing hide and seek –
The moon has leaned, the morning star
Points at hints of light
Robins sing, cuckoos croon in tune
The carnival of music is on –
Playing hide and seek –
May yellow leaves fall today
May all that’s new flood today
May foul breezes go away
May the dusts go with them
9. Sudipto Bandyopadhyay (Disappeared while in underground and after being afflicted with encephalitis. Last  traced in 1970.)
Song of Walking the Road
The spring of 1970 arrives
When wintry mists of melancholia
Were, like those in throes of tuberculosis
Seeking for light, seeking to breathe clean air
Ceaseless dark smoke from chimneys
Had lit incense sticks made of blood and sweat

The spring of 1970
Cuckoo-voice of lovers sing
Love me, beloved
Love me,
And love the music of our thoughts

The music is harsh
The song is ruthless
The right to love
Across all the countries of the world
Beloved, such is your love

Do you remember Shona Boudi?
You, who had defied Ahalya,
Beloved, do you remember that day
when peals of spring thunder rang through the northern clouds
and the daughter of Terai sang out loud?
It is not your evening lamp
It is torches, ablaze
You did not hear it right
It is not happy sounds of faithful festivity
It is the rifle roaring out from the hands of Nirmala



I am that lover of yours
Who walks along the long roads
To bathe in the sun
Won’t you be my sun-bathed lover?

The green fields & forests,
Of the Santhal Parganas, of Andhra
And, far far away, a sound
Moves with the echoes of livid explosion
Moves with the spring of 1970
Moves with your love, with my love

Stay, beloved,
My love is not that tiny nest
It is but a dream – i seek splendid rhythms of life
I walk the roads
I shall find them, I will.
Lovers of spring paint with blood today
Around the villages, around human settlements
Far away and further
And yet so near
It forms a circle
The circle gets smaller
And when the dark night of the bats is over
It becomes that tiny nest
Beloved, if I am no more on that day
And, if spring arrives,
Set the voice of my rifle to tune
Remember, i used to love
The song of walking the roads

(Earnest gratitude to Frontier Weekly and Milansagar for making the original Bangla verses available in public domain)



Saturday, June 10, 2017

epitaph


born like grass in wombs of time
live like sounds of bells that chime
gliding by all easy paths
dead like birds at aftermaths 
ever at large, ever alert
weep for the windmills, musafir heart

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

shapes

they keep on hustling down the poles and sunsets
asking for their dues
you don’t remember
so you reach out for your gun

but the gun isn’t real
neither are the dues
and nor are them. shadows lengthen from head to toe.
our beautiful bodies shiver
our beautiful minds shiver
some scars aren’t real, a few are
but from a distance,
they all look like all the time the stars can hold.
and rivers turn blue when thunder punches the sky out from head to toe.
our beautiful boats shiver
our beautiful houses shiver
the good earth shivers.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

সরহ, বাজাও বীণা


সরহ, বাজাও বীণা, নিঃশব্দে বাজো 
জীবনের অতিকায় ছায়া – আলো হয়ে, 
দয়ালু বাগান ঘিরে জোনাকির স্তব 
রাতের রক্তমাদর নক্ষত্রনিরব – সব খেলা করে –
বুঝি আতস উড়েছে ধূম কেল্লার অমাবস্যা-উঠোনে, অথবা
স্থবির নির্জনতা, আঙুলের ফাঁক থেকে ঝরে যেতে
কুয়াশায় জেগে ওঠা ইস্কুল বাসেদের মতো বহুদূর
বয়ে আনে স্তূপাকার স্মৃতি –
পোস্টকার্ড-স্ক্র্যাপবুকে মিশে আছে সেইসব
হিম অভিলাষ – যারা মানুষের পায়ে পায়ে
ফুটসোলজার হয়ে, মানুষের চেয়ে বড়ো
কিছু নয় বুঝে, ভেবে –
অক্ষর হল ক্রমে চৈতন্যের ক্ষরণে।
আমাদের ট্রাম-বাস-মিছিলেরা ততদিনে লাল-নীল ফিতে হয়ে গ্যাছে। 
তোমাদের ধূসর নদী সময়ের ফাটল বুনেছে।

too many people have died

indeed Thin-Man, ‘too many people have died’
coz the collateral mustn’t take sides
and there are too many sides
too many angles and pitches
too much light and blood oozing down
all the advertisements in all the billboards
in all the cities of the world. 
so many, that strangers who used to write their tales
on fallen leaves 
 throw punches in thin air tonight 
because all monsters are real, all nightmares are
Or else, too many people would never have died

So many have, that,
the sad guy in Hamlyn, after killing all the children,
must have had done something stupid or weird –
unlike sunflowers that face the sun
which are as real as all the corpses that the earth hides from the sun

It’s like, the cycle of fire just keeps on getting longer
as all circles of light and darkness shrink 
each time certain persons necessitate disenfranchisement because some rich men must get richer
a bit of the charming light fades, 
a dot from the deep darkness loses magic
Wolfeyes get redder all around flames
The hunted must watch the hunter tonight
marshlights won’t take him home tonight –. 
Home is where it rains after summer


A thing about sunflowers is - 
baby-sunflowers always face the sun,
even when it rains!
grown-up ones don’t
I have read of a place named Peristan
where the moon fades away
to humdrums of grown-ups
and where there is a dog named lion.


A thing about too many people dying is that
Despite all the sunflowery shit, we have all contributed
in our own ways, across generations of children who lived, who live,
for which some children had to turn collateral, have to, exponentially; 
Memories replaced by memories


Like the wise cat who wipes an occasional teardrop or two off the cheeks of space-time,
an occasional fairytale or two trickle down the iron-guards of history
Fairytales are as real as all our lethal contributions are,
as real as all the children who heard them before they slept were.

When will all the fairytales march out for all the children of the world who sleep in unmarked graves?

Sunday, May 7, 2017

a story of a river and a boy

all along the river’s bend
empty, earthen vessels float
certain stories never end
they stay as lumps in the throat


and ‘why did you?’ the judges scream
golden sailors make no noise
nothing to say, no dream to dream
but the river must flow – it got no choice


and then one day, when the skies frowned
a funny boy with a tilted hat
he wept a little, for the boats had drowned
and he kissed the river, and that was that.




Monday, April 3, 2017

অ্যানার্কি

ভাঙো! ভাঙো! ভাঙো হে আইকনোক্লাস্ট, ভাঙো!
যে ঈশ্বর লোকায়ত নয়, তাকে করো চুরমার
প্রেমহীন ভক্তির ভিতে রচো তাণ্ডবঘোর
যে মাটিতে শস্য নেই, বনস্পতি নেই
শবল শাবলে গাঁথো তার প্রত্যক্ষ ফাটল
মলোটভে প্রোজ্জ্বল কর রাজার প্রাসাদ

এ যাপন আমরা তো চাইনি, চাইনি মনুমেণ্ট-মনিকোঠা
চাইনি দুঃখের বুকে সুখের চাবুক
শতধা-বিচ্ছিন্ন তার পরে থাকে রিরংসা ও ক্রোধ
ক্রোধ, তুমি হয়ে উঠে যথার্থ চণ্ডাল,
কবে ছারখার করে দেবে সব?
কবে অবসান হবে এই চুড়ান্ত আর্য্যকাল,
এই নিরাপত্তা-অভিমুখ দক্ষিণাচার?

যা কিছু চেয়েছি বলে, সকলে মিলে,
চাহিদার অতিরেকে ভেসে যেতে যেতে, ডাল ধরি,
চাল ধরি, ধরি ভাসমান, কামার্থ শব -

এইবারে ধ্বংসের পালা, এইবারে স্পর্ধিত সৃষ্টির পালা,
অতএব,
তীব্র তীব্রতর ক্রোধে চৈত্রের সশরীর সূর্য্য হয়ে,
কালবৈশাখী হয়ে, কঠোর প্রতিষ্ঠার মত টোটেমে টোটেমে
মানুষ ও ঝর্ণার আদল এঁকে যাওয়া সুঠাম কুঠার হয়ে,
ধ্বংস করো যা কিছু নিবিড় নয়,
নয় আন্তরিক –

বৃষ্টির মাটিতে সোঁদা গন্ধ এলে
এখনো মানুষ ভালোবাসে –
এখনো সেই ভালোবাসা –
নিছক ও পার্থিব। অতএব, আশা রাখো,
ভাঙো।

Saturday, March 25, 2017

love-poem

Some people walk in the rain
Some people fear to turn crazy
We live in dark, crucial times
We live through criminal inheritance 
And then, in an empty, naked station
Feelings never felt make love
to dreams never dreamt


We don’t know what happens next
Maybe, the station does,
Maybe, the shivering trees do 
But we must know this, that,
One day, so much love will fill the world
That all the prisons will break


And people won’t be afraid anymore,
People won’t hate anymore.

The Tree by Ritwik Ghatak – (translated from Bangla short story 'Gatʃʰ'ʈi' by Ritwik Ghatak as was published in Abhidhara magazine, Year 1, Issue 2, 15th September 1947 (31st Bhadra, Bangla Year 1354))




Once, a banyan tree had leaned over a tiny river flowing through some distance away from a village. As a tree, there was nothing special about it.


The tree was very old. Insects had eaten its trunk, and all its branches had rotted up. In some forgotten, faraway past, it was all fresh, green and verdant. But now, it wasn’t. It was absolutely of no use.  Only the people, walking towards the village, knew of it – they knew that, beyond the next bend of the river lay ironsmith Haru Kamar’s bellow and chimney-laden workshop, and, beyond the workshop, the village would begin for good.


However, once a year, the tree would gloriously be honoured. This would be during the Chaɽak festival. Some people would polish a few of its roots with oil and smear them in vermillion. People would come from villages afar. The carnival would happen at the village field. Suddenly, the tree would become an object of envisioned attention. After that, once again, it would lie vapid for the rest of the year.  Cows would graze in the wastelands around. At times, some weary traveler from places far away would sit by its cold shade, eat dry puffed and pressed rice from their bags of cloth, drink water from the river and set out about their ways yet again.  On full moon nights, all alone by the vast field, the tree would create splendid lights and shadows on its own backyard, lie hovering down to conjure strange, unknown mystery, in dreams, through the ceaselessly flowing river waters.


The six seasons would pass by the head of the tree all the same. Little faces would peep out of awnings of the boats that would flow by along the river and stare at it in infinite curiosity.


Little boys would come and hang out by the bent-tree, play along its branches, dive into the river from the branches; they would bunk school and go there to squat around.


Thus, the villagemen would be going to the tree from their childhoods. Some would go during afternoons to sit at a spot where the roots, having arranged themselves in a complex pattern, had made a beautiful seat. They would sit there to hear the softly splashing river.


The fisherfolks there knew that there would be many small and big fishes stuck around its roots in the muddy waters. Their boys would go there to bathe and catch fishes with their gamchhas. Many fishes could be caught with nets also.


Even the old men knew of the tree. They would lean on its trunk, look at the playing boys, at the fishermen and, mentally, they would nod their heads. Perhaps they would be thinking of the evenings and nights of their lives.


But they themselves knew not how big a space this old fig tree had in their minds. They would think of it as the Banyan of Old Shiva (Bu’ɽo ʃi’bɛr Bɔʈ), and just that. It was forever there and so shall it forever be. There used to be a saying – ‘The banyan of old Shiva lies beyond Uncle Haru’s crossing’.


And, in all probability, it would have been there for quite a few more generations, and would have given shelter to many future travelers. But one day, all of a sudden and without any prior news, a new project was declared by the government. According to the new Plan of the present irrigation system, our river would have to be widened and would have to be made to carry more water than what it used to.


Suddenly, one day, after making much protest through many sharp and hard sounds, Bu’ɽo ʃi’bɛr Bɔʈ fell on earth. Both the shores of the ancient river got leveled and it was turned into a modern-style canal.


That night, the village awoke all at once. They had come to realise the value of the tree. Their minds were in much tumult. They made their dismay felt.


But their dismay did not go beyond mumbled whispers. The tree fell. Since then, the villagers began to slowly forget the banyan tree. New faces and new houses had come to be.  Only when the old people passed by the place, it would feel very empty to their eyes. Animated, they would tell tales of the tree to the new people – these were their tales on new development.


But this did not last for long. Memories of the fig tree that once had given shelter to many people have, over time, been erased away.