Rain on Kolkata's chest
(কলকাতার বুক পেতে বৃষ্টি)

Shakti Chattopadhyay

Translated from the original Bengali by
Nandini Gupta

Unasked, the rain arrives, the drops beating on tin sheds,
Like furious horse hooves, strewing roads with flowers.
Liquid streams down garbage mounds; a different Kalijhora this,
Flowing not amid bungalows but Kolkata’s hideous homes.
The rain arrives, flooding lanes, washing away
Tales, bedclothes, fish-scales, peels, the torpor
Of middle class homes, careless politics, ballot papers, dry bits of wood,
All that. Rain and rain-drenched picnics are necessary;
To Kolkata, and also to the dead grass.
Birthing rooms this way, Nimtala ashes that,
Life, death, and other trifles scatter in the rain.
Kapas cotton unfailingly lies down between satin covers.
The rain goes to bed a little late, on Kolkata’s chest.

The original poem 'Kolkatar buk pete brishti' (কলকাতার বুক পেতে বৃষ্টি) was included in the book 'Manush baRo kandchhe', (মানুষ বড়ো কাঁদছে) published in August 1978 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.