26 Sept 2006

Holiday Preparations by Rabindranath Tagore

Kaash Flowers

Puja holidays come near.

Sunshine is draped in the colour of Champa flower.

The air ripples with dew,

Shiuli's fragrance touches

like the delicate caress of someone's cool hands.

The sky is lazy with white clouds—

seeing which, the mind doesn't feel like working.

Mastermoshai continues to teach

the primitive story of coal.

Sitting on the bench, the boy paddles his feet,

sees images in his mind—

The cracked ghat of Kamal pond,

And the fruit laden custard apple tree of the Bhanjas.

And he sees in his mind's eyes, the zigzag path

that leads from the milkmen's neighbourhood

by the side of the haat,

into the tishi fields, next to the river.

In the economics class at college

the bespectacled, medal-winning student

jots down a list

which recent novel to buy

which shop will give in credit—

the sari with the "Do Remember" border,

shakha washed in gold,

a pair of red velvet chappals, handcrafted in Dilli

and a silk cloth-bound poetry book,

printed on antique paper—

can't remember its name yet.

At the three-storied house in Bhabanipur

a menagerie of shrill hoarse voices talk—

This time will it be Mount Abu or Madurai,

Dalhousie or Puri,

or that ever familiar Darjiling?

And I see, on the red path that leads to the station

five or six lambs tied with ropes,

their helpless cry spreads across

the calm autumn sky that lilts with the brushing kaash flowers.

How do they understand

their puja holidays are nearby?

Mastermoshai = Respectful term for teacher (Bengali)

Ghat = Bank

Haat = Weekly village market

Tishi = Linseed

Shakha = White bangle made of a particular stone. Is worn by married Bengali women.

Chappal = Footwear

Translated by: Bhaswati Ghosh

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Anonymous said...

Happy Durga Puja!!!! Maybe it be a wonderful one :D

Maaja Wentz said...

What a lovely poem. Of course, with the climate in Canada I wasn't familiar with all the vegetation...

I look forward to reading more.

Unknown said...

Bhaswati, your poetry is so evocative. I felt all the flavor of the Druga Puja. I especially enjoyed the last stanza: the helpless cry of lambs across the autumn sky and the brush of kaash flowers. Excellent!

Anonymous said...

This is really wonderful, specially the twist at the end, which heightens the effect and adds poignancy to the lines before it.

Can you please indicate the original first line and whether it has been sung by anyone?

Truly thankful for this one.

Suzan Abrams, email: suzanabrams@live.co.uk said...

In the economics class at college
the bespectacled, medal-winning student
jots down a list
which recent novel to buy
which shop will give in credit—
the sari with the "Do Remember" border,
shakha washed in gold,

These lines...
In their beauty and splendour, how deeply painful the poignant memory and familiarity of my heritage, even for me...of what once came and went when I was little.


The Wandering Author said...

I, too, thought the last lines wrapped it all up so nicely. And with a poignant twist.

Anonymous said...

what a timely post...You have done a wonderful job translating the great poet...
I am linking you..

Bk30 said...

I loved the way it shows the different perspectives of the season. Thank you for sharing that

Bernita said...

"the delicate caress of someone's cool hands..."
Only one of the most exquisite images here.

Bhaswati said...

Cesar, it was a good one. :D

Cereal Girl, welcome to my blog. I am glad you liked the poem. You have a great blog too. I shall be visiting often. :)

Jas, it's so satisfying when the reader feels the emotions and atmosphere a piece of writing conveys. I am always a little nervous to translate Tagore, since he can never be "fully" translated. But it gives me real joy to see reactions like yours.

Bhupinder, it does throw in a surprise at the end, doesn't it? Am glad you liked reading it. :)

Susan, it's so wonderful to know those lines evoked nostalgia for you. Good memories never hurt. :)

WA, not only is the twist at the end poignant, but Tagore weaves it in so seamlessly, doesn't he? Never ceases to amaze me.

Abhay, welcome to my blog. Thanks for your kind words and the link. You have a wonderful blog too. And I am linking you up as well. :)

BK, you said it so aptly. "Different perspectives of the season," indeed it is. Glad to share. :)

Bernita, :).

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