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Mamata Dash

Come Again

Come, come again.

Believe me, I shall give up the old habit of hiding
As soon as I see you.

I shall no longer disappear into columns,
Nor shall I draw the cloud's veil over my face,
I shall no longer conceal myself behind closed doors
And tell you in simulated innocence
"The person you like to meet
           had long since moved to some other address."

It is time I stopped lying to myself,
My self-constructed enclosure of clever words
fall apart as soon as I utter your name.

Whenever I decide I shall no longer look at you,
Your face comes floating on the silt-laden stream of my soul.
My years of living all by myself,
And going about as though I did not hear you calling me.
How do I explain all these stupidity to myself?

This is a joyless time.
It is silence and wilderness all around
All that I thought filled my life with beauty, glory and pride
Is now meaningless.

Summer is routinely followed by rains,
Autumn and spring come and leave quietly,
I no longer can see
Nights and days of the stars
The moon and the sun.
My mind, filled with remorse
Stopped noticing the changes
It unerringly noticed once upon a time
All it seeks
That you should come
Once again.

Come, come again
Emerge from the dreams
Faraway from all the sleeps I have slept
Descend from forgiveness,
From all that is auspicious.

I have now pulled down
the very last sand house
I built when I played
I have come unencumbered
By the address, jewellery, glamour, and relationships,
That were once were mine.

Come, and let's go
wherever you think we should.

Translated by Ramakanta Rath


What is this supplication for?
To the servant boy, the children,
Their tutor and to my husband?
To the minister and the scavenger?
Why all this fear that prompts one
To hide the milk pot
            at the sound of my neighbor’s footsteps?

What use so much shyness?
When I go out I go wrapping myself in white silk sari
I walk with my head downcast.

What harm can they do to me?
At the worst will come
A one eyed, big toothed rascal
Exhaling hot air through the nostrils
Like holes in mountains
His body hairy like gorilla’s.
One is scared as long as one sees
His blood stained knife
But what if one closes the eyes?

Is it not true that
I have a comfortable flat of my own
Half a dozen of saris to taste
Some amount of gold
And the license for living, for keeping young
And for measured sophistication of conduct?

If one is to return, one will.
What is he afraid or shy of?
He will walk across the dazzling sea
Like a naked sannyasi
When the darkness will be hanging on the waves
Like dead birds. People on the shores
Shall be crying and begging forgiveness.

The present is the only truth.
For the man with the fractured feet
Will alight from a cracking bi-cycle
Is my lover mysterious.
He will stretch his long arms
And collect his regular well deserved fee
From me and leave.

How do I care
for the deceiving moments
Riding away an old bicycle
For the buffoon, my lover?

Translated by Soubhagya Kumar Misra

The Horizon

Shall we, one day,
like a pair of sparrows
perched on a dunghill,
flap our wings and take off to the sky
or shall we just cruise along
on that white canoe far, far away ?
The vessel of course
is without the steersman.
Let it. Why should we fear ?
We two are here.

The evening we have heard of since ages
is perhaps imminent.
Look, the skies no more advertise
their skill
of getting speckled
with a host of colours.
Only the birds let out an occasional twitter
lest they recede into complete muteness.
Not a wall, not a frame is here
where the wind could
playfully collide and giggle.
Not a bubble rises above the waters
which could hold us mirrored.
Only we two,
only we two are here.

Shall I forget everything
at the advent of that evening ?
Shall I forget my frolicsome plays,
my body wounded
in such playful moments,
the blood oozing from the body
the tears brewing within the blood
and the words
sprung from within those tears ?

Will Time too forget
to mend the broken bangles
and again put them where they were ?
Can it really forget
to retrieve the lost ring
lodged within a fish ?
Shall we turn into a couple of shadows
almost devoid of existence, yet conscious ?

Surely the silent experience
of the evening's arrival
will keep us entranced for sometime.
And then ?
Will a pall of gloom descend ?
Or shall we be able to realise
that the nightsky is as blue as ever
that the sun blazes as before,
that the murky night
is only conditioned
by our hallucination, our own hemisphere ?

But these Waters !
Deep blue, dense and fathomless
So charming, so alluring these waters!
Multi-hued shells, glowing pearls
and a variety of fish and other aquatics
have formed an unbrittle bond
all around here;
Can we unbind ourselves ?
Can we ?

As long as waters remain
fears lurk
thirst and avarice tempt
with their fierce spell.

Do not therefore go away, please
stay on this time,
inhere my agonies,
my emotions, my beseechings
and remain in these waters,
Son of God,
be crucified again
not in yourself
but within my body
seething with passion.

And then ?
Shall I have to travel alone ?
How far ?
Far away there, I can see the horizon :
so majestic, so marvellous.
is that the end ?
Is this the end ?
What a supernal void
pervades all around !
Am I that void :
motionless and limitless ?

Translated by Braja Kishore Das

To The Swan

What a strange desolation encompasses me,
A primeval pool that I am
In the midst of a forest
Of creepers and bushes.
Swan, from what faraway land of clouds
Have you come flying to me?
You have flung before me
The message of a time  — amazing and unknown.

But today I have nothing splendid
To greet you with,
Nor do my expectations
Have any dazzle
I could have have otherwise called
The flowers, the waves, the bubbles
The laughing whirlpool and the breeze
But the feeling of fellowship they have for me has gone
Because of my absurdity, my taciturnity.
Nevertheless I alone realise in my heart of hearts
That I have experienced enough
I have endured enough.

Those who look at the lotus
have a glimpse only of its petals or
Its singular eminence.
But I know it out and out
Its stalk and root and seed
And the mire from which it has sprouted
Or all that are beneath it —
The alluvium the moss, the stones, I have seen
The pebbles, the stones, I have seen
The fish, the snails, the oysters, the crabs
With all their filth and foulness
And the water-fowls, the geese,
The cranes and the Starks
Fluttering and frisking.

Moment after moment
My experience has shown me
Death and life, form and formlessness
Birds and Beasts and Men —
So sordid, so detestable, so miserably broken.

How futile and how meaningless they are
Touching only the surface
But remotely aware of my innermost recess
Emancipated and alone.
I am making amends, Swan.
For my usual nonchalance.
Before you came here
How often I have tried to find you
In a floating cloud, in a flying kite
At times in a paper boat
Within a fading leaf, within a dew drop
In various flying objects
And I go on living
Perhaps with a self imposed illusion.
Yes, I know,
You too my turn out to be a similar illusion
Above all illusions
And an irresistible dream above all dreams.
Yet I won’t let you go,
Do you know how much I value —
Your illusion, your imagination?
Eminently suited to mingle with me —
Another strange illusion?
Won’t you, Swan, vibrate with life abundant
Divesting yourself of this visible attire
At least once
To fulfill my hopes, my aspirations, my devotion?

Translated by Brajakishore Das

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