(Translated by Arunava Sinha)
The Royal Question
Believe it or not,
The emperor is terrified
He no longer leaves his room.
Days turn into months
The year has almost passed
In the kingdom there's a sense of doom.
The crisis is deepening
Do something, courtiers,
Can the empire run without the emperor?
Those who surround the monarch
Are falling silent, one by one
Cry as we might, they refuse to stir.
No one knows what's wrong with him,
The shops have downed their shutters,
No one's going to work these days.
Only the devotees have gathered
To beat loudly on their drums
And sing their paeans of praise.
Days of Waiting
Who puts the writing on the wall every day?
Honestly, I don't know.
The times are changing everywhere
Is something I can see clearly.
It rings sharply in my ear—
The roar of an infuriated ocean far away.
When I open
The window I see them swaying madly in the void—
The branches of all the trees.
It seems that the suffering mother in the fairy-tale
Will hold in her arms this very day amidst the storm
All her turbulent, tempestuous children running to her.
We have been looking for them constantly.
That is what I wait for. And I simply cannot
Return from this
Battlefield to the habitat of peace.
I want to see, at the final hour of the calamity
Closing in on us, who wins and who loses.
Arunava Sinha is a pre-eminent translator of Bangla literature who single-handedly has translated quite a substantial chunk of Bangla literature, from classics to contemporary writing, from poetry to fiction and nonfiction. His translated books include Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay’s The Chieftain’s Daughter (Durgeshnandini), Sunil Gangopadhyay’s You are Neera and Rizia Rahman's Blood Letters.