Varnamala : Contemporary Oriya Poetry

 
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LAXMI NARAYAN MAHAPATRA
 

CHILDREN ARE NOT HOME


The children are not home, they are gone.  
The home is empty and rooms so blank.  
Void spreads, layer by layer like slough  
The time has no throb of life  
for it is still  
and dead like the vast eternity.  
Moments born of Time,  
the fond mother of all  
search for their playmates  
for it is the time for play.  

The children are not home, they are gone  
The walls are mute  
and the floor of my room  
seems like an old lady  
that has suddenly stopped telling tales  
to children fond of her tales.  
The rooms are blank and stillness hangs  
from the ceiling  
that seeks to be thrilled to life.  
The floor seeks  
the words of a coaxing mother  
and the look of fear and helplessness  
that once kept it alive andgay.  
The eyes rub my limbs  
and set balloons high  
letting them soar with laughter  
that cannot be easily grasped.  

The children are not home, they are gone.  
From afar I can see  
the soft palms like tender leaves  
glistening in the light  
of the eyes beyond the gate.  
Are they speaking to me or telling a tale  
of fairies in gardens  
or knights in the woods?  

Suddenly I leap  
to the street bathed in the sun  
leaving this lonely room, vast and blank  
and there I can feel  
the uproar of my children giggling  
or the language of eyes  
in their wistful liberty.  
But the street becomes a stretch of void  
and the trees stare on  
with mute eyes that cannot see the fun.  

I return to the room  
and switch on the fan.  
As I close my eyes I feel,  
my body dissolving by degrees  
slowly and slowly  
the uproar of children come  
floating to my ear  
like the fainting waves of a distant sea.  
And in me the waves dance eagerly.  
And that faint uproar  
of my children cacklingis transformed  
into a bright flood of light in me.  
In me the smiles of flowers of charming  
colours take to wings.  
The blankness of the room  
dissolves in me.  
I am lost in reverie  
and silence is drowned  
in that enthralling noise.  
that plaintive note fades  
from my mind.  
I ask myself :  
Are not the children home ? Are they gone ?  
  

Translation :
The poet  

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