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Poem: Nawabgunj

How melancholy is this transition winter hour! People spread their wings. They burn in their own flaming evening lamp… An entire lifetime incubates itself in
childhood memories
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This poem was translated into English by Moulinath Goswami.

A few words about a tree and about some people who lived round it….

Some stray dialogues
Strains of recurrent laughter
This is the time to cherish the Past and let the breeze 
Caress the ageing wrinkles.

What is the place I have come to
After a long time… a long long time after?

Gazing past the long verandahs of rented houses have I come, with my ancient mother, to the realms of my old childhood. It’s futile to expect that Mondal Ghat would remain the same. How much you’ve changed over the years! Yet the same old vendor – the spicy puffed rice seller – still weaves the spell of eternal evenings on the girls whose skins shine with the hues of the twilight sun. It astonishes me!

And then a walk follows, a walk up the lengthy road… inching close to a sprawling field-

There he still stands hiding himself-
Waiting for the school to break up midway
For the peanut shells to fly in wanton glee in the eyes of the lad from Barishal…


No one, no longer waits.

Am I too awaiting someone’s redundant remembrance of the past?

No dear, no!
Before me lies a bare field, vast…
Oh my wailing heart!
There! Is it not father who’s standing there?

The dawn dripping down his temple like dew drops
And down his forehead…
Down the softness of his upright neck
His well coiffured life trickles…
Like the morning raga my father slowly dissolves in the mist….

“Don’t go daddy! Listen to me!”

I’m going down, and down
His death certificate in my hand…
I burn myself in the depths of the drowning water!

This here is the tea stall. The dark old seller sits in the silence of the shop’s rustic darkness. When the sunlight retires for the day outside, darkness begins to settle inside the stall. A banyan tree stands entangled in its roots. Beneath the tree, like a faint flicker glows the old man, his grandson and a smoke-filled childhood of mine!

“What will you do, you young lad?”

“Why? I’ll serve tea…. I’ll serve tea all my life”…

Dear boy!
Lend me a piece of your bridge where no one transacts
I shall spread it like a sheet in my heart!

A crystal clear lake, lined with trees and trees and trees… sylvan, like the Saraswati Kund
Alone I am, beside me my mother – lonely too
Together we walk side by side, yet so far, far apart…
We both walk the distance that between us lies,
Yet we remain lonely, each of us…

How melancholy is this transition winter hour! People spread their wings. They burn in their own flaming evening lamp… An entire lifetime incubates itself in that warmth.

I leave my eyes behind by the water and come back…

And so I return…
Leaving behind the municipal office
The tea stall
The fall of the withered leaves
I leave my father behind…

Let the old households remain. Let the frayed streets, the primitive pond, the school building, my childhood pal – the spicy puffed rice remain! 

To this day I see –

It’s evening… the swing rides have come to a stop… a tiny finger locked with that of his grandpa, as the old man walks, past the gentle field by the library…

My mother stands waiting –
My father
Fists clenched behind his back
Walks up to the parting of my mother’s hair… and vanishes…

…. And here I have still remained
Myself, my father, mother and some trees like scattered sorrow…

Leaving the body by the shore
The mind merges with the Ganges…

Birthday tolls like death!

Image courtesy: Pixabay

Jhelum is a Bengali poet. Her first book of verses was published in 2015. She is a poet by compulsion. Her work is published in leading Bengali dailies and periodicals.

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