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Dina Nath Nadim


Alone, the morning star is truly forlorn,
Left behind by the shining caravan,
The poor so journey has lost his way
And scans the sky for his comrades.
The tulip, pitying his plight, dragged him down
Into her lap in the form of dew;
Bounteous earth blesses him with increase;
Buds on bushes blossomed in twins.
Alone in the sky, coming down he became many;
Happy comradeship cured the false pride of height.
A flower among flowers, and pearl in the breeze--
The garden taught him the great secret of life.
Erase your ego, and you move forward with the many;
In isolation a bleak death crowns a pointless life.

Translated by the poet


I - A flower spoke to the soil

A flower spoke to the soil
but its pains remained untold;
the bushes were pruned
they were trapped in snow.

They say the garden is abloom,
the sunshine washes the flowerbeds
and the cool reigns.

II - The topmost branch of a tree

The topmost branch of a tree
trembled in the early morning
saw its shadow on the ground.
It looked towards the sky
fell in love with the earth.
A wind shook the tree;
it lapped the pain.

III - Two eyes gazed out of a window

Two eyes gazed out of a window
and then
came the wind.
The willows clothed the bride,
the anklets were for the bridal dance,
the headgear looked a rainbow.
Revelry was a frenzy
where the spring happened.
The people closed their shops,
not a sound was heard.

IV - A path, running through a field

A path, running through a field,
ended near a stream.
Over the other bank
they shaped a road
that led to a village.
Someone sent a message
over the stream.
The stream howled
it heard the tales of the village
the city.

V - The crows shouted

The crows shouted
they knew not how to spend the leisure;
the nightingales adorned their nests,
the hay became stacks.
The nightingales hatched,
their breaths were visible.
One flight ----
and the world knew the newborn.
Suddenly all shouting stopped.

VI - Spring-wind passed by our door

Spring-wind passed by our door
with restive fingers
beat its breast.
I asked a flower, “What happened?”
In a corner
it puckered its lips.
Soon a dry petal appeared
the spring-bushes
beat their breasts.

VII - Time rested on a picture

Time rested on a picture,
trees grew like mad;
On the canvas
there was a forest.
He who took the road
reached home.
Breath came into being.
Where is the forest?
Where is the mind?

VIII - His colour told me

His colour told me
it was he.
I tried to name him
my breath froze,
lips petrified
and mouth was still.
All was darkness
a lightning showed its teeth.

IX - A shoe

A shoe
with its mouth open
lay on the road
longing for a draught of water.
A dog came,
shattered the shoe
took it to a stream.
Is thirst quenched?

A brick said to a stone:
“You are a part
I am the whole.”

X - A vessel

A vessel
washed by the raindrops
looked like a woman’s liquid face.
The raindrops
washed off its sins.
Somebody came
and kicked the vessel.
Shards lay here and there.
Two days later
children played with fragments.

From hell to heaven
there are two and a half steps.

XI - A hut leaned against a house

A hut leaned against a house
counting its days
winter after winter.
One winter
snow shattered its roof;
another winter
rain felled it.
Someone bought the house
raised a bungalow instead.

One upon a time
a hut was there;
it is sod.

XII - A plant irritably said to the slope

A plant irritably said to the slope:
“You have held my feet.
I crave for
a jump
a play
a song.”
One day rain cast aside the plant.
The slope lost its patience.
Who knows
the plant may have been wise
but I know that
I am a ninny.

XIII - The oil in the lamp dwindled

The oil in the lamp dwindled;
the wick was a flicker
the light too dwindled.
A moth danced into the dying flame;
the half-burnt hope
fell into a niche.
When the flame died
darkness gave a hysterical laugh.
Why trust laughter!
Weeping knows no end.
Who lost
who won?

XIV - A pebble in the street corner

A pebble in the street corner
lay washed by the sun.
The builder
piled a stone upon stone.
The pebble was lost
in the gravel.
Long back
Fate had written on its face:
“For the road”
The builder ground it.
The pebble was dust.

XV - A wind

A wind
carrying twigs
climbed down a hill
walked on the riverbank.
The twigs got stuck against a mound of sand
found their place.
Since then the people say:
“The twigs are always for the fire”.

XVI - The wind lost its way

The wind lost its way
a whirlwind caught it
in the middle of the road.
The leaves swerved
Satan had entered the fray.
It was daytime.

XVII - A broken mirror

A broken mirror
shone on junk.
A cow came
looked at it;
a dog came
breathed at it;
a mad woman lifted it
wrapped it in her rags.
Nobody knows
what happened to the broken mirror

XVIII - A thin stream

A thin stream
flowed down the hill
like a king.
A twig was its crown.
The river will overflow its bank
shake the earth.
After a splash
the twig got stuck against a mound of sand.
Beauty is no slave to hollowness.

XIX - A chrysanthemum espied a marigold

A chrysanthemum espied a marigold
and said:
“Why hurry!
Stay a while.
The sunshine is still all colour.
You are in the dawn of youth;
my childhood died a long ago.
Yours are the shavings of autumn;
mine is only the incense of spring.”

XX - The silence of the night said

The silence of the night said:
“The dew is born.”
Each leaf perspired.
The morning ray was aghast
died near the frost.

XXI - A lone naked poplar stood aloof

A lone naked poplar stood aloof,
there was a crowd of crows.
The leaves of a Chinar shook
the children shouted: “Caw…caw.”
The crows fled like the wind
the branches trembled.
The poplar looked all around
found itself alone.

XXII - A breeze left for a walk

A breeze left for a walk
for it
wanted to attend a fair.
A wind engulfed it;
the breeze lost its soul.

XXIII - A cloud shinned up a mountain

A cloud shinned up a mountain,
a lightning struck it;
it felt helpless
trapped in the lap of the mountain range;
flight was forbidden,
a rock gripped it
it fell
reached the bottom
with a bang.
I thought it was a thunder
the unexpected happened in home.
A friend invited a friend to a feast.
Does anyone ask the first snowfall:
“Where were you born?”

XXIV - A leaf detached from a tree

A leaf detached from a tree
fell dancing upon the earth.
The turf said:
“This is a friend come
from the unstable
fallen upon the stable.”

XXV - A road jumped into a lane

A road jumped into a lane;
darkness was rooted there.
Two doors close-by
when they saw the road.
If spoken
the talk will lengthen.
The flowers shed tears below
the sky was starry above.

XXVI - A sculptor sculpted a relief

A sculptor sculpted a relief,
painted it
rediscovered its each limb.
When he looked at its face
he found the lost
lost the find.

XXVII - Mynahs espied a small blackbird

Mynahs espied a small blackbird
from afar said:
“Hey, where are you going so early?
Who do you call up this time?”
The blackbird replied:
“You have to hide the booty of autumn,
I have to collect the treasures of spring.”

XXVIII - Ink spilled on a white cloth

Ink spilled on a white cloth,
night ran away
after a long sleep.
I recalled the day
a crowd stared at me
a patch hid a hole in my garment.
The white
the black
All existence rests on this duel.

XXIX - By the foot of a hill

By the foot of a hill
a butterfly winged back trembling
to its home.
On the way
flowers welcomed it and said:
sit beside us
live your youth.”
The butterfly replied:
“You tempt and unfold and madden;
I show my colours in vain.”

XXX - In the mid summer

In the mid summer

the leaves of young poplars
Only a few leaves
crowned them;

the rest were taken away
by the rain.
“Fellow travelers are strangers here.”

Translated by Arvind Gigoo

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