The Returned

Shakti Chattopadhyay

Translated from the original Bengali by
Sutapa Chaudhuri

I march to the battle of the unarmed     my weapon is my mind.
My father’s eyes are full of darkness, the milk of the sun-plant
Runs down my mother’s cheek, metallic mirror
Make me a murderer, pierce a sharp thorn
In my eyes    and slice my tongue with Akrur’s arrow
Let me kill ny child, give him to me.

My mind is a weapon, darkness only a hindrance
On its hard heart I’ll strike a wake-up note
Numb grow my limbs and crying is harder
Then darkness awoke and said, Go, return now.

The dawn glitters like a gem on the hood of a python,
My tired warrior return now, back to your own home
Your mother is now crystal water, your father’s a glowworm,
A jungle babbler wails alone in the dust of your broken home.

The eyes of the stars are dark    the sky a burnt bowl of clay
Fortune is black as the crow’s body, the food of hunger is decay.

The original poem 'The Returned' (প্রত্যাবর্তিত) 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 Pritha Kundu. Pritha's first novel Gandharba was published when she was only... (more)