Poetry in translation
(Translated by Rifat Munim)
Just a solitary meal of two dry rotis
or a search for water in cupped hands on a blazing day of unceasing thirst—
is not what I wanted from a placid, golden, painted afternoon
day in, day out.
Down the path of our everyday lives I have not demanded only
the sour taste of dry rotis and water for my thirst.
To this day I lie down on grass used by a timid rabbit; in the afternoon
I see a squirrel spread a cool shade over its body. On the tortuous water
of a river in the evening, what intimate story the moon writes over the field!
I behold deeply: dazed by the chorus of crickets, I recall the other night
while absently tearing grass on my teeth like a deer;
I call the sky—source of all the stars for thousands of years—
closer to my heart while my mind lights up listening to
the music released by the wings of golden, languorous bees;
I sit down, pressing my back against shafts of sunlight glinting off
thousand years old love poems;
that brisk, desire-laden dancer who, inebriated, raises with her anklets
the heady rhythms in my heart,
an empty noon in my kingdom is thus filled with melodies—
that’s all I pray for, Iswar! If leopards crowd outside my door—
this is all that I pray for—even then I’ll never forget, I’ll never forget.
Drawing patterns on the surface of the earth’s waters,
smearing the fragrance of incense in the glow of a bottomless lake lying
within a pair of eyes, never did I think
one day I will have to seek out the bed of grass in the fading colours of the dusk.
Nurturing the sharp, blood-red shame of weaving words
together with rhythm and rhyme, I walk among the gray crowd of humans!
Some look away and keep a distance while some put up
an impeccable show of nonchalance;
looking up with a happy face as sleek as candle,
some say with a sneer, “Uff! Pretending to be feeding on art,
what rubbish he writes all day and night!”
How easily they brag and toot their own horns every day.
Yet there is some consolation: the sky sends down heavenly dew,
the fireflies fill the field with miniscule flickers of light,
with a dejected tune in the dead of night alone I walk in your kingdom
I am the emperor!
Bathing in the dew, Mind, do you know
to what silvery edge of the world you go to—
wiping signs of many pale afternoons?
Seeing the shadow of a ghost on a damp, faded wall,
the fear of not getting two rotis in the morning
sends me to deep sleep on a winter night, turning me pale.
Fierce leopards, perhaps, will feast on my throat one of these days
in sheer ecstasy;
even so, securing the door with a bolt
I smear myself with Jesus’s forgiveness and keep weaving
a procession of shining words.
Maybe someday my corpse, all cold, will be discovered in some city drain;
the waves of dirty, slithery water in there
I will drink up for some time.
Standing by my door in the evening, hordes of nameless ghosts
will smack their lips; I know it all
yet in the shower of placid, silvery dewdrops
that fall right on me from the heavens
I get myself deeply drenched!
 Of Sanskrit origin, Iswar means God.