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Balraj Komal

The Long Dark Lake

In that familiar town,
Kids from school
Were passing by noisily.
A pious, innocent girl
Was killed by her own hands
In her own home.
In the crowd of the streets,
I was there too, with my mother
And other home folks.
The little one wanted me to repeat:
A star shot from the sky
Last night
And went down
Into the long dark lake.

Translated by Leslie Lavigne and Baidar Bakht

The Paper Boat

Last night, drifting off to sleep,
My little son asked me :
Why is the moon so far away ?
Why do the stars shine ?
Two balloons ...
What happened to the black cat ?
Give my elephant some warm water.
Tell me that story. I'm so sleepy ...

Through midnight's floating clouds,
Some frail words fell in the shape of drops
On the piece of paper in front of me,
The tale of my eyes and heart,
Stretching over countless years,
Slept in the lap of night,
Perhaps to the lullaby of the pouring rain

In the morning,
Bright flowers of children's cheerful shouts and laughter
Blossomed everywhere
Floating in the lake of last night's rain,
Among the fleet of tiny, wobbly ships
I saw my son's dear little boat.
The elusive form of the poem,
Familiar piece of paper,
Familiar words.
My little boy was calling out :
Anyone who doesn't clap his hands today
Is nothing but a fool.

Translated by Leslie Lavigne and Baidar Bakht 

The Last Man

The last man was none to me.
He believed
in the distance of the bodies.
That evening our kinship
was only a mystery
and neither he, nor I
knew how to deal with it.
He met me in every dark alley
and I thought
we knew each other
but it's long since
we have grown into aliens.
We were aliens
but we recognised each other at a point
we remained in the whirlwind of our conservation
and survived the whirlwind
but what happened-
we were silent
and the desire of being one remained only a dream,
strange doubts rose in the hearts,
we touched each other and came back to life,
we revived our fire
we got transformed into the landscape
and all the distances disappeared.
We kept alive
in the fire of suffering
in the evening of the dying day.

The Rows of Trees

There are no rows of trees here onwards;
it's only the waste and brown land,
the graves of dreams,
the corpses of aspirations,
the skeletons of the acquaintances,
the scattered days and nights,
the torment of the skies.

Let us sow the seeds here today
the seeds falling from the fallen minds
that there be no delay in the doomsday.
It's heard these brown lands
aren't wholly infertile
and the sweet possibility of the spring
in your blood, and mine,
dying and living
and burning in veins and bodies
is waiting for the end of the sky.

The River of the Falling Stars

I'm the river of the falling stars,
you're the unreached goal,
you're the star, the sun,
or a magic window in a distant land,
a city burning on some shore,
or a jungle in harness for long centuries.
I call you life's spirit
and you tremble with the terror of a smile.
Are you the void,
the wind, the nameless water.
Why did your mother give you a body
if you were a god;
if you were a feeling
why are you so proud of your looks and lips,
of your delicate romantic moves;
if you are only a fragrance
why do you wish to forsake the colourful orchard.
I'm the river of stars fallen from all possibilities
I'm flowing-flowing in the streams of my fate.
Deprived and lonely, I remain in a journey
but I am not a boat.
Whenever you'll come to the shores
Walking in majesty in romance
I'll look at you in your newer beings
Of feeling, fragrance, or lost dreams,
I'll look at you from some distance.
I'm a river of the falling stars
I'll move and descend deeper in the turbulent, dark seas,
I'll spread and keep ever spreading.

The Jungle Draught

She told me at separation
in a sad and sorrowful tone:
Who am I to you now?
You have beautiful friends around,
Every desire of meeting me

Is only a turbulent feeling, and one day
You'll forget me for good,
you'll find it difficult even to recall my face.

This year's old story appears as if it was only yesterday.
I've beautiful friends around,
I talk day and night, grow a jungle of words around me
Where my enemies, the blood thirsty animals,
Hound me out.
In the flowing streams of pleasant memories
there is an image aflame
that beckons me often.
It's known to me but who is it to me now.
I get dissolved in the roving image, in your illusory being
and the jungle draught bewails in my body.

Translated by Anisur Rahman

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