[A Seven-Year-Old Bengali Poem, translated by Aniruddha Phalguni Sen (@unstoppableSen). I am grateful to him.]
A man, who never became anything, writing from his heart.
February 13, 2004.
I have reached a new land innocent of dirt
at the end of a dusty path of neglect;
I haven’t won anything here, and feel cheated;
they didn’t make a poet of me as they had of Neruda.
There wasn’t any river there, or hills, or even an angry streak,
though a storm of love whirled, bereft of signals,
without stirring a single leaf. My disembodied stubbornness
and the strong hug of branches of trees strengthened by your love.
I missed being a tree, Srija, you missed being my own.
I know, you don’t trust in hollow modernism and, hence,
I seek myself in an empty mirror on the last leg of my life;
a barren land sprawls thither. Where is my true self
in its glare, I know not!
The waft of coffee from afar, nary a soul after seven evening
but you, us, the dark fairy atop Victoria Memorial
had melted in the dusk, I had trouble making out
the Grand Hotel arcade.
Park Street lures me still with its million beacons
and I still leave a ten quid tip as I leave the bar.
Remember the child who haunted Derozio’s tomb?
The dusty city streets have made him grow up since.
Despite your repeated objections then, I didn’t give up smoking,
stubborn me; you can’t do much about that, can you?
Is your memory as sharp as mine, or is it
nursing unseen wounds under the cobwebby film
that covers it? Who is it that you captivate now?
Or, perhaps, I had known you never, as all doors
leading to you were tightly shut!
Someone will open them ajar, don’t you worry,
Another thirsty man would seek solace from you again,
seeking his haven like mad, someone else, for sure,
someone unlike my hungry poems!.
Shower your boon to water his drought and let me know.
Do you remember tomorrow’s date, or are you
keeping mum to give me a surprise, or don’t you?
This poem, if you may call it that, is all that I have,
and is the only gift that I can offer you;
the raindrops remember that I had loved you once
and love you still; you need not worry, dear, I have not
told anyone else, but the gentle breeze
might whisper a line or two in your ears, and
I shall do my best to let the breeze carry my whispered words!
Forget all else, the memory of my caresses, can’t you
remember me a wee bit, Srija, and keep well,
wherever you are, keep well.
Me and my persona.