Kolkata, at dawn
(কলকাতায়, ভোরে)

Shakti Chattopadhyay

Translated from the original Bengali by
Nandini Gupta

Like the morning tram, love enters
Our minds and bodies. Winter is gone.
Trucks empty their rice at barns
In the south and forever speed north,
Laden with straw, filled with agony.
Light blossoms gently in balcony pots. Flowers,
Sullied by Kolkata, bloom, nevertheless. Untouched,
I remember the many children who flowering fall off,
Right away. Are falling off, right now.
This dawn no longer enraptures. Kolkata turns sour.

People turn their tired steps homewards after a wakeful
Night. Some others, step out of their homes.

Clutching a boy, an old man scours for nuts,
And finds a few clinging to an ancient leaf,
Inside which his childhood twists and turns like kholse fish.
The sun rises, the sun climbs the sky.

Bustling Kolkata dresses up differently in every home.

The original poem 'Kolkata, bhorey' (কলকাতায়, ভোরে) was included in the book ('O chiropranamya agni', ও চিরপ্রণম্য অগ্নি) published first during the Kolkata Book Fair in 1985 by Ananda Publishers (আনন্দ পাবলিশার্স).

Parabaas, October, 2020

Illustrated by Nilanjana Basu. Nilanjana has been regularly illustrating for Parabaas. She is currently based in California.