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  • Five Poems of Joy Goswami, translated by Oindrila Mukherjee [Parabaas Translation] : Joy Goswami
    translated from Bengali to English by Oindrila Mukherjee



    Five Poems of Joy Goswami

    Translated from Bengali by Oindrila Mukherjee







    Poem From Another Land




    By deeper water, upon greener rock, I had pitched my tent
    And washed away with care the colour of my scream
    Your bone and stone ornaments dried on wet rock
    And Night would spread its blue-black skin upon the water
    Then, it wasn’t in this land I lived!
    The animal hides you gave me to wrap around my waist
    I laid beneath my head to sleep on the island sand
    In the distance a whale released water through its nose, in the early morning sun
    One by one all the corals emerged from the sea -
    One day a wandering Marco Polo anchored his ship
    One day Columbus too -
    Who was first, who second, can you remember? - And once
    On his way back from his long desolate exile
    Crusoe, Robinson; he spent a couple of hours with us
    Dined with us on long fish roasted in fire
    Not a single bone in them - “excellent” he remarked
    in dense creeper-covered forest, I noticed
    the way the early morning sun flashed - while speaking
    with you from beneath his nutbrown beard there flashed
    such a smile -
    Then, it wasn’t in this land I lived!

    Tonight why do I recall that tent upon a rock
    Why do those bone and feather ornaments sparkle in the dark?
    Here where the butterflies are lightless and the minerals damp as a cold
    From sleeping bodies warm vapour rises constantly
    If I try to wash the wound of my scream, then
    From the water there will rise a crimson smoke!

    But running will not help!
    I will fetch the rocks and warm them
    Warm them and whet them
    Soon their inert tips
    Will sharpen and glisten

    And then
    Do you remember one time in the dark how
    A drunken bear pounced on you
    And I with just such a sharp rock
    Flattened him right there, in the sand?


    (--Anya Desher Kabita; collected in Kabita-Sangraha (Vol.1),[1990])







    A Bathroom Fairytale



    Lay yourself down, when you wish to be born lay yourself down
    in a grassy field meadow pasture lay yourself down and say Ma Baba Ma Baba
    Soon your body will become this tiny in the morning
    Office-goers will see on the grass drops of dew
    Your one drop will vanish with the warmth of the sun, go,
    Go if you wish to be born say to the clouds Ma Baba Ma Baba
    The clouds will hurl you from their womb such rain such rain such rain
    Down below a beautiful maiden enters her bath in a roofless rented bathroom
    Today there isn’t enough tap water when the rain comes
    Her joy as she embraces you to her bosom such love such love such love....



    (--`Kalgharer Roopkatha', Patar Poshak, [1997])








    Don’t Wait for Your Lover Any Longer



    Dusk has fallen. Go home.
    Don’t wait any more.
    Trees, flats, trees, signboard, trees
    In between the slate sky - in the distance, shops by evening
    Every scooter, Maruti
    Flashes light and turns by the culvert
    The same storm that came and went seven days ago
    Is coming back again.
    On the street dust swirls with the paper bag
    The wind’s voice gradually rises to a roar.
    What a strange restlessness
    Has begun to tremble in the suburban pond’s water...

    Go home, wait no more. Go and see
    The child you left behind with the nanny
    Was playing when he fell asleep on the floor
    In the jungle of small and big toys.

    (--`Premiker Janye Aar Apekkha Koro Na ', collected in Kabita-Sangraha (Vol.3), [2000])






    Anniversary



    A name I’ve written on a blade of grass
    On the date my mother breathed her last.



    (--`Batshorik', Ghumiyecho, Jhaupata? [1990])






    An Evening of Rain







    An eye had wandered, to another’s beloved, her leg.
    When, carelessly, her sari lifted just a little -
    Outside, the rain comes down. A lantern’s been lowered underneath the table, in the dark
    Now and then the fair lustre of a hidden foot drifts up...

    The fault is not in the eye. There was no choice but to look.
    Wasn’t there? Why? -- Rainspray rushes in noisily
    Wasn’t there? Why? -- Flowering bushes leap on barbed wire
    Wasn’t there? Why? -- From the one who has no right
    Everything is concealed by a fringe of embroidered lace...

    Now the rain has stopped. Now she too has left the room.
    Only, the breeze returns. Only, like the eye of a powerless man
    From time to time the lantern beneath the table trembles.

    (--`Ekti Brishtir Sandhya ', Ghumiyecho, Jhaupata? [1990])








    These poems have been translated during a workshop at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. The workshop was conducted by Dr. Sidney Wade, a poet, translator, and a professor of Creative Writing at the same University.


    Published August 4, 2004









    Illustrated by Nilanjana Basu has been regularly illustrating for Parabaas. She lives
    in New Hampshire.


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