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Anupama Basumatary


Those days I picked the upside down snails
from among the stalks of growing grain
and filled my creel till the neck.
It was fun removing the shells
and watching their recoiling tongues
before I boiled them.
As I sucked the sap and threw the shells
they lay creaking on the floor
in a certain strange rhythm
that hid the agony of their dying

Now I crawl around the seashores
clamber about on land and water
to look for the roots of that strange note
as the marauding waves draw me back and fling

Strangely, an unseen hand picks me up
sucks my sap and leaves me empty
The shell of my body creaks
in the agony of the heart breaking
and makes the strange measure of a sad strain.

Translated by Pradip Acharya

The Cowherd

As the sun peeps
through the bamboo grove
He picks up the goad
the wicker sunshade and the flute.

In each homestead
is thrown open
the makeshift door of the byre,
Having come out
young bulls, bullocks and heifers.

Driving the herd
he moves to the patch of fallow.
In the stillness of noon
the sad note of his lonely flute.
Trees and grasses on the river
paddy and the wind
sweeping the paddy fields
Listen entranced

Rain or shine
he waits
till the sun sinks behind the hilltop
only then
he can roam freely
in the plains of his heart
without a goad
and a sunshine

Translated by Niren Thakuria


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