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Tele-Com: A poem

  • Published at 07:08 pm December 19th, 2019
A portrait of Nabaneeta Dev Sen
Jahid Jamil

A poem by Nabaneeta Dev Sen in Khademul Islam's translation 

Those cloud-headed girls of Joy’s

            I saw one the other day

                        at our bus stop

                                    unchanged from the old days

bag on shoulder, hair in twin braids

            wearing a school uniform

                        sweat on nose, forelock flattened on brow—


There she’d be around the phone

            the girl who furtively, secretly stalked it—

waiting for when it’d be free from Uncle’s guard!

            In the morning when he stepped out for his walk—

                        as if by magic the boy too

                                            would call right then

Barely would Uncle get past the paan-shop—

                        when the phone would ring

                                    and be snatched up at once

—“Who was it just now?”

—“Wrong number, Mother”…


The night deathly still 

            after everybody had gone to bed

                        twelve-fifty by the clock

tip-toeing into the room

                        the girl would call him

since he too was awake and studying—

and no sooner would it ring back

                        she would leap to pick it up

                            at fifty past twelve

then a hunch-backed disheveled cooing

               time would drift by timelessly

                        counting out the heart’s love sounds

garlanded with beads of sweat over her entire body


Unchanged that very girl—

               that bag, those braids, that skirt-blouse

                   talking with phone in ear, mind elsewhere—

in the blazing noon at Rashbehari’s corner

                   with Uncle and Auntie walking on

            that girl, with untroubled eyes, on her own time

                        on her very own phone

                           talks about things utterly her own

the crowded bus-stop

an unruly forelock flying on her brow

                                    sweat on nose, eyes and hair


                                    unchanged, everything the same

                             as before, only…

Girl, don’t you know

                             your cell-phone

                                has snatched away the cloud over your hair.


Khademul Islam is editor, Bengal Lights