4 Jul 2006

The Path to Walk on, by Rabindranath Tagore

This, indeed, is the path to walk on.

It has wound its way through the woods to the fields, through the fields to the riverbank, next to the banyan tree; then it courses its way through the villages. As it moves further, beside the lush fields, amid the shadows of the mango orchards, by the bank of the Padma River, I cannot tell in which village it would wind up.

So many people have passed by me on this path, some joining my company, others seen from afar; some with a veil over their heads, others without any; some walking to fetch water, others returning with water.

II

The day has retreated and darkness descends.

Once this path had seemed personal, intimately mine; now I see I carried a summon to walk on it just once, no more.

Past the lime trees, the pond, the riverbank, the cowsheds, the paddy mounds, the familiar glances, the known words, the acquainted circles, there won't be any returning to say "Hey there!"

This is the path to walk on, not one to return from.

This hazy evening, I turned back once and found the path to be an ode to many a forgotten footstep, all entwined in the notes of Bhairavi.

This path has summarized all the stories of all its travelers in a single dirt trail; the one track that traverses between sunrise and sunset, from one golden gate to another.

III

"Dear walking path, don't keep all the stories you have accumulated through the ages tied quietly into your dust strand. I am pressing my ears against your dust, whisper them to me."

The path remains silent, pointing its index finger toward the dark curtain of night.

"Dear walking path, where have the worries and desires of all the travelers gone?"

The mute path doesn't talk. It just lays down signals between sunrise and sunset.

"Dear walking path, the feet that embraced your bosom like a shower of wildflowers, are they nowhere today?"

Does the path know its end—where forgotten flowers and silent songs reach, where starlight illumines a Diwali of resplendent pain.

Translated by: Bhaswati Ghosh

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6 comments:

bhupinder singh said...

Thanks for another wonderful translation ! The last line is beautiful.

Bernita said...

"The feet that embraced your bosom like a shower of wild flowers..."

~ sighs with delight~

I love paths, have walked on ones like those... "I am pressing my ears against your dust..."

Thank you, Bhaswati, for this beauty.

Flood said...

I enjoyed this as well. My favourite line: it just lays down signals between sunrise and sunset.

Scott said...

Gorgeous prose.

Bhaswati said...

Thanks, BS. I tried. This piece is a personal favourite, and I enjoyed translating it :)

Bernita, you are blessed to have walked on paths like those; living in this concrete jungle of a city, being pushed to the brink by dangerous traffic volumes, I don't get much chance to do that. But I have been to the countryside in Bengal, the kind Tagore was so much in love with, and could sense his inspiration for writing this.

Flood, thanks. Isn't that so true about paths laying down signals?

Scott, thank you. It's my joy to share a bit of Tagore with you all, even with my inadequate translation skills.

krb150 said...

I forget where I first read this translation. This has been superbly done. The translator should translate more from Tagore.

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