Shakti Chattopadhyay

Translated from the original Bengali by
Sutapa Chaudhuri

There’s a strange smell in the garden, come let us both go back.
Break the fetters that bind your hands, let the bees drop on your skin trembling.
All the burdens of dust, old and obsolete in the mind’s tongue
Let us leave them behind and return, in our minds, going our separate ways.

I have aged much yet still wait at your door…
Benign moonlight, where does it take us in our dreams?
Do not fill again the tepid rays of desire with your passionate lac dye,
But gather in your palms the limits of the sea and its shores.

Better let go the hour that seduces with dense cascading hair
Strange blue humour alas in the folds of a beautiful face;
O garden of respite, why cover
The lonely gloom of transient happiness      with scented wild flowers?

On my lap the naive mansion
The corpse of my boy, an unblinking illness, a timid love.
You return natural, I stay on in life artificial
The wastes of Art ages my cheek, my innards fester and suppurate.

The original poem 'Fate' (নিয়তি) is collected in Shakti's first book of poems 'He Prem, He Noi:shabdo' (হে প্রেম, হে নৈঃশব্দ) published in March 1961 by Granthajagat (গ্রন্থজগৎ), Kolkata.

Parabaas, April 2017

Illustrated by Ananya Das. Author of several books and an illustrator, Ananya Das is based in Pennsylvania.