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 Sona, that golden sister-in-law?
You 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