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Saturday July 2, 2022

Birthday Songs for my Phoenix: Diyamon the Diva

Nabaneeta Dev Sen
Nabaneeta Dev Sen. Poet, scholar and mentor to countless authors and poets.

Nabaneeta Dev Sen, poet, author, scholar, critic and feminist has inspired and mentored countless younger aspiring writers to take up their pen. The versatility of her oeuvre makes her one of the most prominent voices among twentieth and twenty-first century authors of the  Bengali language. Her body of work includes poetry, fiction, literary criticism, travelogues, essays, and personal prose. Her analysis of the epic Ramayana is considered one of the finest ever undertaken in the Bengali language. According to Indologist Richard Gombrich, “Dev Sen was one of the pioneers in unearthing, acknowledging and popularising the plurality of the Ramayana tradition in India. There are few who have worked so ceaselessly to highlight that Ramayana is not a fixed body but a living text, which exists in so many different incarnations, which could be made to yield so many different afterlives. Dev Sen went back again and again to the possibilities recondite within the narrative of the Ramayana and posited it as a repository for undertaking positive social change.”

Born to poets Narendra Deb and Radharani Deb in 1938, Nabaneeta Dev Sen was deeply attached to her family, her daughters and grandchildren, who features often in her personal prose composed in her later years. She passed away in November 2019 at the age of 81.

Hiyamon is Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s granddaughter from her eldest daughter Antara. She lovingly addressed grandma as Diyamon, which rhymes with her own name. 

The first three songs in the series were composed on 12th January 2022. The other songs are from 2019, a birthday song and a get well songs. 

Song 1

A long time ago 
I found myself on my own 
found but afraid 
I needed someone to call hope 
then you picked me up in your arms 
I found a heart purer than anyone’s I’d met 
someone who could share my joys and woes
my dear Phoenix 
I cherished everyday we were together 
even though I didn’t show it 
but in my head… 
It was you and me

I hoped that it would always be… 

Song 2

If you miss this plain I’m on 
you should know that you’re not gone 
you’ll remain forever in our hearts 
for a zillion years 
it’s been a while 
since I’ve seen you 
but remember your family’s beside you
I feel you protecting us 
I will feel your presence 
for a thousand years 
wherever I go 
and forever I’ll know 
that you are here
with us

Song 3

I know you’re hiding somewhere 
on a heart-shaped puffy cloud
writing your poems and stories
and making us all proud
heaven knows you moved it 
just to be with us 
teaching us to love
to embrace our gifts
to be confident in life
to have faith in ourselves
maybe you were right
not everything vanishes 
when it touches that light
I hope someday I will find you 
up in the golden sky
dear Phoenix, we know you
didn’t wanna say goodbye

Composed on 12th January 2022

Two earlier songs for Diyamon, from 2019. 

Nabaneeta: the Newlyborn

(Birthday song, January 2019)

I wonder what’s right or wrong
But I know that you’re my Diyamon
You shine so brightly in my heart
Newlyborn
Newlyborn
Newlyborn
You came straight from my heart
You’re a bit like a jelly tart
You’re the light that gives us hope
When we’re in the dark
And we have no one to call for help
You are the light in my heart

My Diyamon — the Newlyborn

The Phoenix

(Get well song, October 2019)

NDS, you know
how I felt
all those fantastic years ago
I could see a bright tomorrow
And in your heart, there’s a flame
That can’t be put to shame
as you will regenerate
like a phoenix

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