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Navakanta Barua


The fire of the palaash has gone out now.
In the saal and sotiyaan woods
Spring-storms of days past --
Days of the Burmese invasion.
How many dreams fell who keeps count?
On the banks of the Kalang, Kopili, Diju
Grandfatherís bones.
The wild lily sprouts through
Grandmotherís heart.

What did the clouds say,
Give, give more, give your all,
Plant trees by the road, open a high school,
The dear traveler is always on the road,
Heave a sigh
Let the water speeding through roofs
Flood out the cells of dead spiders
Let our silt fertilize the banks of the Kalang.

In the furrows of our grandsonís new farmstead
We shall wake.
In our fossils they will read
Amusing tales
of those who remember past births.

In the lane where dreams are blind
we stay there. In the gutters
their future.

Translated by Pradip Acharya

God Gave Gray Cells

God gave man brains
To achieve lunacy therewith.
With his body plenished with blood
The heart took on the task of mistrust.
Speech he had
Wherewith cunningly to obscure truth.

The only truth left to Man
Is the work-moist hands of his own woman
Clasped in his weary hands of an evening
And the smile of this his child.

Translated by Pradip Acharya


It is afternoon now.

Letís go to the tailorís; to get measured.
Measurements of neck chest hands and arms
Measurements of the palm and the heart
We shall give measurements of the entrails
And the kidney and the liver,
Give measurements of hormones and affections

Let us give measurements of life,
Of this that and several things.
Give only the measurements.
We shall think of the stitching later on.
For the time being letís just give the measurements
We can only give measurements.

We can only take reckonings
We shall record that suicides have
Swelled considerably.
We shall give count of the number
Of letters in a speech.
Give count of the Christians in Arabia.
Just give measurements.

We shall think of the stitching later on.
Merely think.

Someone after us will measure anew
Saying that our measurements have gone awry.
Fresh new measurements theyíll take.
Just take measurements.

When will someone stitch the garment to fit man?

Translated by Pradip Acharya

The Belt of the Spinning Wheel

The corded belt of my motherís spinning wheel
was a mystery to me
spool after spool is used up
the distended bobbins pile up in the basket
the empty reel takes a spin or two and stops

But the belt of the spinning wheel is unending
I donít see its ends, just see it move
spelling it out carefully, I write on my slate

One day the cord of the spinning wheel
became quite another thing
I saw a bare string lying on the cement floor
And, after that
We bore mother to the grounds and burnt her

Now the spinning wheel turns
but the bobbins wonít,
In the reel a knotted skein of thread ...
Sitting in the dark of my mind
gingerly, in Rabindric character
entered in the ledger:
in the morning light,
the stammering poet, me, read

Translated by Pradip Acharya

Valmiki in Bhopal

At the bank of river Tamasa
Someone killed a karchana separating it from its mate

Exploiting nature
Those who used to make a living
To them was uttered
A hot blast of condemnation
And this blast gave birth to
The first culture of humankind
From the furrows of the plough was germinated
A far-reaching revolution ...

The child of my fields
The mother of my green crops
The future of my golden harvest ...
And was written
The Ramayana: The odyssey of the Lord Rama

At the bank of a lake
By the wind carrying Death within it
Were killed
So many fathers, so many sons
So many beloveds, so many mothers

Wonít there be any more transformed robber
Poetic voice would announce
An inevitable anathema
To that way of life
Which, bewitching with the will-o-wisp of development
Dries up the foundations of future existence
Wonít there be written
With union of crops and steel
A new epic
Whose name would be
Manavayana: The odyssey of the humankind?

Translated by Rituraj Kalita

The First Code of Life

Offerings to the mother have been washed
with brotherís blood;
To satisfy the mother earth
Offeringís flesh has been cooked in her breastís milk!
Please, no more
Distribute those horrible offerings!

I am a poet, my shelter made of only words
Words only form my bridge
Through the incisive bridge of words I have crossed
The dark caves of disbelief
What is the use of calling the word as The Brahma
Thinking of it as The God Incarnate
When men wants to protect its dignity
With menís blood?

I donít believe in any electrifying power of words
Which originates from
Falls running on brotherís blood

Only a few accused, condemned words -
(so easily can one juggle with words!)
From which erupts deadly hatred,
Suicidal, fatricidal smoke; and
From which originates rivers of blood
Of the confused poor!

Ye my people, the incarnations of the Great Ashoka,
With your tears of repentance
Have your hands washed of
The stains of your brotherís blood.
Purify yourselves, Not with the spoilt incarnations
But with the stable unity of
Thought, Love and Sweat.
Ye Ashoka the Terrible, transform yourself
To Ashoka the Just.

Translated by Rituraj kalita


We housed them in prisons
For they wanted a home,
We killed them for they wanted eternal life
Then bulldozed their prisons into fields of corn

Whatís that hand sticking out from the earth?
Other hands will sprout from it ...
And tickle us to death.

Translated by Pradip Acharya

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