Shakti Chattopadhyay

Translated from the original Bengali by
Sutapa Chaudhuri

Why did you bring me here, take me back.

The face is cold as darkness, the eyes bleak and miserly as an emptied lake,
Touch them with your motherly hands, I ask, and take back.
No more in this field, my feet are bloodied by the paddy stubbles.
Trampling the sebonne greens with a beggar’s bowl over and over and over again,
Why did you bring me here, take me back.

The stench of rotting paddy, the odour of moss, the stink of spotted fish in wading water.
All have become my dark room of experience, the containers of salt and spices
Lining your kitchen, Mother. When I can’t see the hands or feet of bodiless darkness,
Then, borne in our decrepit body, where have you brought me?
I can never see the limbs of a limbless darkness.

A soft breeze blows and I imagine the sea is nearby!
With your withered hands you bind me hard.
It means, that if I go bathing with the darkness of all I have,
The sea will recede,     the chill will recede,      death will recede.
Or, perhaps you’ve given birth to death, mistaking it for life.
I am darkness, I will remain darkness, or I will be darkness.

Why did you bring me here, take me back.

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

Parabaas, April 2017

Illustrated by Pritha Kundu. Pritha's first novel Gandharba was published when she was only... (more)