Friday, October 7, 2016

it has been

it has been a long long time
made of clock-hands, coffee cups and cinema,
furtive glances at slender fingers;

we have been scared
of love, of touches,
of poetry
of children sniffing polythene bags
between steel tracks
beneath empty coaches in the rain
the coaches are still and silent
the children are still and silent
the rain is still and silent
Señor Pablo would’ve known

it is cold
for long has it been so
but don’t you worry
it will not be cold forever

certain birds go to the rivers
to learn magic
and turn into twilight
and don’t you worry
we shall not be scared forever

it has been a long long time
and all the horses have returned
to the dark secret valley
to drink moonlight
and dream of an ancient revolution

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


থাক থাক সুঘ্রাণী সন্দেশের উপর
সিরাজ-ঘাতক ক্লাইভের সামনে
মহিষাসুর-ঘাতক দূর্গামূর্তি সাক্ষী রেখে
সেইদিন ছিন্ন খঞ্জনার মত 
নেচেছিলো যারা লম্পট নবকৃষ্ণের সভায়
বাংলার নদী মাঠ-ভাঁটফুল কি ঘুঙুরেরই মত কেঁদেছিল তাদেরও পায়ে?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

106 years later

what is to be done
with all the memories of forgetting
all the trivia –
red ants, dead people, shooting stars

what is to be done
with all the anger of grief
all the madness –
flames leaping up, zombies in terror, sullen postcards

what is to be done
with all the rain that never fell
all the history –

candles burning, candles burning on, candles snuffed out. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

by the river shabari

by the river shabari
i wander and i sigh
a thousand faces in the waters
a thousand in the sky

by the river shabari
sad breezes blow
sad birds sing no song
fireflies never glow

by the river shabari
guts curl in fright
cursed wizards cry all day
banshees wail all night

by the river shabari
history makes no sound
it’s just the waters flowing by,
and humans hurled hellbound

by the river shabari
silence cuts through bones
tales of life ever lost
humans turned to stones

by the river shabari
sunset rides the waves
my children there never dream
they sleep in unmarked graves

by the river shabari
i bend my knees and weep
and pray my atheist prayers to
the earth that runs so deep

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ratnakar by Saroj Dutta (Chatushkon Magazine, 1952) - a translation

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

Monday, August 1, 2016

for the sake of

for the sake of the hills
for the sake of the valleys 
for the sake of all sadness
that weep in lonely alleys

a touch of love, a kiss for life
a book of poems to write
to wrap around and shield us in
when anger comes to smite

for the sake of rivers gushing by
for every bend they take
for every smile and every sigh
for the noose on martyr’s neck

songs to sing, fists to hoist
broken hearts to mend
countless friends sticking on
a handful dreams to defend

for the sake of slogans on parched lips
for the sake of what they mean
for every eye, though squished by pellets,
yet keep on shining keen

voyages of wisdom, voyages of love
those shores of freedom afar 
this road we make, this road we take 
unto the morning star….

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Certain Questions on Behalf of Dead Soldiers and Dead Children

whom do soldiers die for?
who teaches them to kill and hate?
it's you and me, sweet friend,
through sixty nine years of bullshit
that made us forget
how to ask questions

some never answer,
must never be questioned
and for the rest - we've been taught
to answer on -
to get jobs, mortgage loans,
dead children out of morgues

who kills all these children?
whom do children die for?
it's you and me, sweet friend
through sixty nine years of cowardice
that made us forget
how to stand between the killers and the killed

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

বস্তারের আকাশে গোলকায় চাঁদ

বস্তারের আকাশে গোলকায় চাঁদ
নানাবিধ কথা বলে, বলে চলে সারারাত -
বলে কুয়াশায় ডুবে যাওয়া স্বরেদের কথা
কোন গাঁয়ে পানী নাই, কোন থানে বুঢ়াদেও
গম্ভীর থেকে গেছে খুব - গাইতার চোখ তাই অসহায় -
বলে সেইসব কথা
উপহাস ছুঁড়ে দেয় আমাদের আধজানা ইতিহাসে -
আমরা তো জেনে চলি হিংসার কথা,
মেপে চলি রক্তের দাগ, ভেবে চলি
বনখেকো, নদীখেকো খনিজের কথা -
পুলিশে নকশালে ধুন্ধুমার - আর কিছু জেনেছি কি?
শুনেছি কি মানুষের বুকফাটা গান? মেখেছি কি মাড়াইয়ের মৌতাত
সমস্ত শরীরে?
চাঁদ জানে এই সব কিছু, অতএব
গোধূলির জাদুকর ইশারা দিলেই
গুঁড়ি মেরে উঠে পড়ে, জ্বলে থাকে সারারাত
পাহাড়ের মাথার উপরে, বনানীর গভীর ভিতর

Sunday, June 12, 2016


you know how weak you are
your feet tremble
one mistake and down
down like autumn leaves
in scream-choke spiral
down like a cascade
that never knew
when the angels of freedom will come
and they never come
no light to stare at, no darkness to hide behind

you know how weak your are
in a world where everyone
even those that claim compassion
claim to be against social Darwinism
worship strength, worship vitality
seem to stare at you like tall statues
of humanhood
stoic faces twitch – the moon twitches away
to the oblivion you are banished from

you know how weak you are
you are the rabbit, everywhen
and there’s headlight everywhere
and happy faces make you sad
and sad faces make you sadder
there’s the snake and there’s the ladder
you sit by the feet of the latter
and wait for the venom
between your eyes that have seen much,
that haven’t seen much –
and you want to move,
to run away, to break through
that liberating movement
towards those anklets, now broken
that once had rung like the bells of love
but your feet tells you to fuck off

you know how weak you are
when you want to cry
but your tears have dried
and you want to scream
but you are scared to bother the neighbours
and you want the heart to puke
but you are scared of the pain
and you want the soul to flood
but there’s no soul
and there’s no rain either

you know how weak you are
when you don’t feel like fighting on
and you don’t feel like giving up –
you don’t wish to accept
you don’t wish to reject
na hanyate
na hanyamane
Shadows hang heavy
over hills you once had wished to climb
to drop, like curtains, abrupt
over dreams bereft and longings forgone
and that’s all that there is –
A pendulum halted mid-air
A sonata chortled in transition
Dante beholding the stars
The stars beholding you

Thursday, June 2, 2016


খিদে বা তেষ্টা পায় নি বহুদিন
যে'খানে জল নেই, সেইখানে কবিতা অবান্তর
যেইখানে কবিতা নেই সে'খানেও জ্যোৎস্না ছেয়েছে মাটি
অথবা মাটির ইঙ্গিত পেয়ে অজস্র ঘাসফড়িং
ফাটিয়েছে স্ব স্ব কলজে - পেতে চেয়ে ভৌম আশকারা!

ঠিক সেই মত, প্রগতির পথে পথে ত্রস্ত ফকিরালি
চে-র বন্দুক কিম্বা র‍্যাঁবোর কলম ছেড়ে
র‍্যাঁবোর বন্দুক কিম্বা চে-র কলম ছেড়ে
খুঁজে নিলো লালফিতে চিরুণী আর আয়না

খিদেতে, তেষ্টায়, কবিতায়, জলজ জ্যোৎস্নায়,
মন্বন্তরের মন্তরে,
কুয়াশায় গিলে নেওয়া শেষ ট্রেণে,
বরফে হারিয়ে যাওয়া শেষ ম্যামথের অকুতিতে
কেঁদে কেঁদে ফিরে গেলো অবশেষগুলো -
"মানুষের কি সত্যিই গাছ হয়ে ওঠা উঠলো না হয়ে আর কোনোদিন?"

Taking Sides

so, do you want to be a Rhodes scholar and take blood-money from De Beers or do you want to be an IAS officer and wield determinative power over people your grandmother's age and wisdom?

time has come to choose sides in a game that's neither binary, nor zero-sum, in a war where there are no victories and defeats but where there is a battlefield.
are you hiding below your cot where cockroaches run riot?
are you hiding with the skeletons inside your cupboard?
are you hiding with the shames they have stuffed inside your closet?
are you crying for love?

so, do you want to be like the hooded dude in the Seventh Seal or do you want to be like the knight-dude that played chess with him?
time has come to choose sides in a game which is also a war
and there are no victories and defeats, save and except the conditions as applied by the rules of the game which is also a war.
rulers make these rules
and turn into judges
and participate in the process

mad dogs vie for piece of meat
sad dogs lick tick off fluff
and clouds carry colours of their sadness when contours of dusk stretch across horizons
twilight gives no damn to these blasted binaries

so, which side are you on?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Five Nondescript Haikus

aye light, aye darkness
i have never seen such love
except in some dreams

and thus, you stray on
smiling at angry people,
waiting for the storm

rooster crows at sun
candles shine up babylon
how did it all start?

caterpillar, oh
what joke of humanity
turned you into shoes?

when a musafir
finds a home of life and love

strange birds learn to weep

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

just a torn piece

just a torn piece we fight to glue up to integrity having no idea on how it will look when it's all stuck up together
just a dark tunnel we seek to counterstrike our way through to light having no idea how light feels like
just a wishing well
and a handful of stones
to throw down, and wait,
for an echo
which might or might not arrive
because everything doesn't
but some dusty buses do:
perfect, splendid - in anger and automation;

that's why we live
we chase music
we fight dragons
and we keep on living
until we don't.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

ও দেশপ্রেমী ভাই

ও দেশপ্রেমী ভাই
তোমার মুণ্ডু কেটে খাই
নিছক তুমি চুনোপুঁটি
সাঁতরে চলো গুটিগুটি 
গভীর জলে রাঘব বোয়াল মারতে থাকে ঘাই।

Two Gondi Songs from Bastar

(as represented in Bangla font and translated into Bangla by Narayan Sanyal, DanDak Shabari, 1962)

Song 1 – Transliteration
barang sarapartey uditan saydar
badengey isey uditan?
belosankey isey uditan?
… ha dada saydar

kyaydi aarka potsi hetke isey hanDu
tatat humar kishun hetkey isey hanDu
… ha dada saydar

sarpar tahey hanDu
taney isey poyanDu
“ayo ayo” – hanDu
tuna tantey onti saydar
…ha dada saydar

Song 1 Translation
Serene, in the middle of the road
Why do you sit?
Why don’t you explain?
Whom do you wait for?
Is it for our Bolesa? 
…ha dada Saydar

Pitcher in hand, she has gone, softly
by the river
She is not here
You wait for her, futile, staring at the road
…ha dada Saydar

If she comes by the lonesome path 
You shall hold her hand
She shall say – “no, don’t,
i shall not go with you”
…ha dada Saydar

Song 2 – Transliteration
aring baring bader… raa—eyy
peron bader payenDu… raa—eyy
darka pirru dardar... raa—eyy 
jhimTi pirru jhimjhim…raa--eyy
Dori usha hanDu…raa—eyy
Dakka pichar hanDu…raa—eyy

Song 2 Translation
Rainy clouds wrap the sky
at times it gushes down in torrents
and at times, it drizzles slow
Doleful minstrel of wilderness playing on the strings 
Tearing through the ink-black darkness
At the twilit hour of dusk, from the western skies
Sun-god hurls his golden arrows
But, in the ceaseless waters flooding through,
those arrows of gold float away
To sacrifice their selves to the depths of darkness


[given these are Gondi to Bangla to English translations, i think we might have deviated significantly from the original connotations]

Thursday, March 17, 2016


কি টানে ধরবে নিঠুর এই বনস্থলী-দেহ
আমরা তো প্রাকৃতস্বর, আমরা তো খুঁজে নিই নানান স্টেশন 
এইখানে পেয়ে যাবো পথ অস্থিরঐখানে সমুদ্রে লাল-নীল জমায়েত
সেইখানে, কিছু পাখি, নিস্তার পাবে বলে, স্থিত, উড্ডীন -
বুঝিবা আকাশ গিয়েছে ফেটে তুমুল, অবিরল আহ্লাদে
অথবা পাতাল পেতেছে জিভ আগুনের স্তনে -
সেইখানে, বেঁচে থাকে, বেঁচে থাকা সেইসব জোনাকিমানুষ
প্রহারে প্রহারে বাঁচে, অনাদরে, বিষন্ন বাজে - ষড়জ-রেখাব-গান্ধার; মিতালী রেখেছে তাই অবাক চড়ুইভাতি,
চেতনা রেখেছে চৈতন্যে - ভালোবাসা থেকেছে সহজে
এত অনায়াস তার যাতায়াত! - বুঝি ইতিহাস পিছু হটে হটে
মিলিয়ে গিয়েছে মায়াঘন অন্ধকার মিলিয়ে দিয়েছে মননের পাঁজর কোটর -
সেইখানে, অবিরল খাদ - পতনের মুখে মুখ ঢেকে
ঘুরে দাঁড়ানোর গান, পুতুলের কলকব্জা, সময়ের কালপ্যাঁচা -
সেই সব ছুঁয়ে, দেখে, বুঝে নিয়ে সমস্ত সুন্দর -
তথাগত একা একা কেঁদে গেছে তারাদের নীচে
চাঁদ তার হল কি সুজাতা? জ্যোৎস্না হল কি তবে পায়সান্ন অবশেষ?