Varnamala : Contemporary Oriya Poetry

 
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JAYANTA MAHAPATRA
 

THE VICTIM


Not time.  
Many times I have proudly thought  
of loving you;  
each of these moments of mine  
are themselves victims  
like that dog Laika  
moving for years in the emptiness of space.  
  
The victim is this age we are born.  
The victim is not just that man  
crucified two thousand years back  
or that old man  
who fell with his face down  
in the prayer meeting at Delhi  
forty five years ago  
or Sakya  
or the youthfulness of Marylin Monroe.  
  
Perhaps  
at last sacrfice lies  
in the justification of life.  
Sometimes you are very close to me  
or sometimes you are not there  
sometimes I am not there  
and at other times  
neither both of us nor others are there  
and rain and summer and winter  
come and go;only a little of happiness,  
a little of sadness,  
a little of emptiness  
goes on being sacrificed.  


Translation :
Rabindra K Swain 

THE PRICE OF POSTCARD HAS NOT GONE UP, HAS IT?


No, the price has not gone up  
for long years.  
Even in this new budget  
the price remains the same  
as before : fifteen paise.  
  
But  
take this Malli,for example.  
She would be nearly seventy  
but till today  
she has not written a post card.  
She has never had the need of it.  
Only two or three months back  
she got a card from her grandson  
after her daughter and son-in-law  
settled in Kharagpur  
getting a job in the Railways.  
  
Says the oldwoman,  
this Puja vacation  
her daughter and son-in-law  
will come home.  
Her neighbours will compliment her  
on her house being festive on the occasion.  
Would Mallibudhi care anybody, then ?  
  
Malli will go on being a silent onlooker  
to her children's cries,  
jokes and laughter, to the rites  
and festivals, to time's maya  
and to the increased expenditure in the family.  
The old days of her poverty would then brew  
in the dry bones of her conscience—  
it is the slow dying, not her death, 
that would then cascade like water  
down her wrinkled hands.  
  
Because  
how would she know the world is so big ?  
Is she a cloud in the sky  
or a barge drifting on some sea ?  
Has she ever seen the hands of history  
in the book of her grandchild ?  
  
Hers is only a small life  
standing day after day  
like that fifteen-paise post card  
whose price has not gone up for a long time.  

Translation :
Rabindra K Swain 

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