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Mallika Sengupta

The Girl On The Sunlit Road

As the shadows of Minto Park shifted
They too moved away from the sun's heat,
The two creatures who had left the dreadful house
Two storm-tossed birds - daughter and mother.

What took place in the night's darkness? Outrage! Outrage!
Incessant violence would tear up the woman
While the eyes of the mute girl streamed,
She watched nightlong, nightlong, blood trickling down
Her mother's bruises.
The nightly eyewitness from a neighbouring window
Flared. Slamming his window shut he says, "I want privacy, privacy."

Window cries out, "Why are you beating your wife?"
"My goat, whether I slaughter it, head or bum foremost
That's my business," the man said.
This is termed privacy My Lord.
If one human being kills another
You will keep quiet!
Where's the human being! That's the man's wife.

The Police Officer turns philosopher-
"Resolve your domestic conflicts at home
If your husband hits you a little
Why do you rush to the police station? Go, go devote yourself to the family."

"They'll kill my mother,"
The girl wept at her maternal grandmother's feet,
Her granddaughter's face made the old woman's heart tremble.
Her sense of duty is relentless - throughout the ages she has learned
A woman's real space is her husband's home
"You have to return whatever the agony."

Where will the woman go with her young daughter?
Today a friend's house, tomorrow another's,
But day after tomorrow
The day, day after?

Mother and daughter sit in Minto Park,
Clasping her mother the girl cries uncontrollably
"I shall not return to that man."
To the daughter and mother who have escaped from home
Home is a black hole,
Her vagina would be ripped from incessant brutality
Yet the man's fury never seemed to abate,
"No I will return no more"
Holding her daughter fast
The woman walked down the sunlit road.

Translated by Sanjukta Dasgupta

Insignia Of Blood

Man, I've never raised my arms against you

Slitting the hair-parting the day you drew the insignia of blood
I felt pain, I didn't tell you

On dry soil no rose blooms, no peacock dances
Yet digging the sandy terrain we drew water
With son on the lap have watched glow-worms, pointed out Orion.

We know earth is woman, the sky primal man
Then why have you chained my arms?
Why didn't you let me see the sun for a thousand years?

Don't insult the earth that holds you
Man, I've never raised my arms against you.

Man, I've never raised my arms against you.

Translated by Sanjukta Dasgupta


The drumroll of centuries
our hearts beat
with hopes and fears.
Blood. Battles. Poisoned air:
is this our fate?
Or will the new century transcend hate?

New generations, changing tastes
salt and pepper and sour and sweet
the melting pot makes culture paste
will Bangla still be heard on the street?

In this world thermo-nuclear bound
in the onslaught of Euro, Dollar and Pound
will Bangla hold up?
Our way of life, the way we speak
do we change it all because we're weak?

While we are poor,
and our faults are countless
our love for Bangla
is surely timeless ?

Translated by Amitabha Mukerjee


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