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Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Let’s Take a Selfie with Time and Other Poems – Saroj Bal

Jul 17, 2022 | Poetry | 1 comment

Translated from the Odia by Dr. Snehaprava Das
Let’s Take a Selfie with Time

Come, Dev
Let’s take a selfie with Time
Let’s stretch our tongues longer
To lick the ice cream
Before it melts and trickles down
To the elbow;

Don’t you know
How clever an imposter is Time?
One moment Rani Mukherjee
Ransomware in the next
Now the climbing level of mercury at Titlagarh
A funny curl of a smile on the
Teddy Bear’s face a little after;

Come now
When the hands of the clock
Still hover between the numbers
From one to twelve
Before melting away
in the 47 ° Celsius heat
we will send all the alphabets
to an anonymous exile
and store the lone mango
hanging from the out-of-reach branch
in the beak of a crow;
I had warned you to store
In the slot of a pen-drive
The friendship that hangs unguardedly
Out of the pocket
I had asked you to tickle
Time’s navel with your little finger
and excite it!
I had asked you
To eat to your fill and
To fill in the blank holes in you!
Did not I ask you to dance
In the plantation of green-grams;
To wash your clothes in the
Powdered wind

Wash, wash and wash
Till the piston of the machine tires out
Dance, dance and dance
Till the system fails;

But you did nothing of the sort
You won’t listen to me
So now…
Go away from here!
Go away to that city where
The copulation-consumed frogs float
Spreadeagled in a blind well,

Go to the city where
Roads determine the speed
And pistachios condition
The soil and the seed;
Where the infernal April takes refuge
Between the folds of cheap cotton sarees
And i-pills melt away in impotent wallets;

Go away to the bared slums
Of a brazen civilization
There a monk trades the yogistic
And youth raves and rattles in
The reality shows on the celluloid;
You are at liberty to go
No one would be stopping you
But before leaving
Mop your face with a hankie of fire
And rub a few layers of powder
On your still undefiled face;
And before you leave
Let’s take a selfie with Time
Just you and I,
That will be as much earning of the day
To treasure in the microchip of humanity
For an uncertain tomorrow;


Fog Bodied

I am a buyer of flesh
And travelled up to death
In search of your body
Returned and settled down
To write poetry;

Poetry is bodyless
A fog-wave of words;

I sat down to write poetry,
And the waves of words
Dragged me to a sea;

I went down and down
Then someone pulled me out
Before I was drowned;

I got back to consciousness slowly
And opened my eyes to see
But there was no one at sight
Not even the sea
Only the grey-garbed fog
All around me!

Gently, I lifted the wrap
To take a look at your fair body
And was shocked at the sight of
The bruises and wounds and scratches
Who gave you them?
Tell me honestly!

No answer came from the fog-body
Fog does not have a voice
It does not have a tongue,
The unsaid words like wispy curls
Squirm out of their
Blue nightwear of suspicion
And dissolve into the fog;


Clouds Inside Me

There are clouds inside me
Like dense jungles of black
There must be a sky somewhere
Inside me too
Shrunken and hidden,
The sighs that escape the lips
Blended in the cigarette smoke,
The vexed sweat beads oozing out
Of the hot and clammy hair-follicles,
Sorrows that jump out of
The casement of the eyes
To melt into the darkness outside
All come together and precipitate
To form clouds in my sky;

The making of clouds is
A secret and mysterious act
Like the making of the gods,
No sound escapes the closed walls
The thwack of the chisel or the mallet
Is never heard,
Not even the breathing of the sculptor,
Nothing at all!

Hardly ever
An indistinct rumble
Emerges from the jungle of black
inside the body,
Like the drum beats in
Some procession approaching from afar,
The sound of the revelry
Could be heard with ears stretched
Voices and noises, all jumbled up
Are heard, too;
Who is it?
Settling firm inside me
Declares its presence
With this impudence?

Defeated dreams? Crippled wishes?
Wounded yesterdays, or
An anxious today, or a tomorrow
Puzzled and witless
Who has the audacity to escape out of
The hidden private sky?
Startled, I jump out of the bed
And switch on the light,
And what do I see?
Clouds and clouds all around me!!


A Day Passed

Another day passed
Uneventful, routine,
Like a page turning in the wind
Gentle and noiseless,
Leaving behind no residue
Of its existence;

Why do they come at all,
Dull, plain days like these,
Like dry leaves dropping from
Indifferent trees!
Why do they come
Carrying a few sighs in its vacuous silence
And shreds of muted memories!

Bland days,
Callous and dispassionate
When water finds no thirst
Music finds no ears
The mind rummages inside the emptiness
For something
Not knowing what it is!

Like a breath evaporating into the air
Another day passed
Soft and soundless
Coming out of the infinity and again
Dissolving into it,
Nothing happened except that
It just took away a day from the life!

Another day passed,
Putting a cross mark on
A specific number on the calendar!!


Spirit Call

Hello there, Poetry!
Aren’t you Poetry?
Of course you are!
Come down dear,
Tell me what would you
Like to drink, hot or cold?

Have you had something to eat?
Would you eat soaked rice?
There are fried badi in the tin
You could have a few cloves of garlic
And green chilies to go with it;
Or, would you like to have
Something light and crispy
Like mixture of puffed rice and chenachur
I will add a few drops of mustard oil to it
As a tempering, if you want;

You look so pale and starved
And sick!
I know how they are sucking your blood,
Crossing the bridge- to -glory
With your support,
Receiving awards and citations
Appearing on the television screen!
But you are just wandering about
Without a destination
Scorching yourself in the blazing sun,

No one cares, no one bothers!
Come dear,
Rest your head on my shoulder
And release all the pent-up sobs
Do not fear
I am a harmless, innocuous poet
Think me as one of your own,

My precious! My gem! My darling poetry
Rest your head on my shoulder
And whisper into my ears
What kind of lines one must write
To win the coveted Jnanapitha award??


Also Read:

Poems by Sangram Jena

Poems by Saroj Bal

Saroj Bal (b-1976) writes poetry and fiction in Odia language. He has 14 poetry collections, 4 collections of short-stories and 1 novel to his credit. He also has edited a number of literary journals including Saamnaa. Apart from writing he has a great passion for singing, photography and cinema. He is now residing in Bhubaneswar and heading his own publication house.

Dr. Snehaprava Das, former Associate Professor of English, has translated more than 12 Odia texts including novels, short story collections, long poems, plays, and nonfictions. Worth mentioning amongst them are classics like Fakirmohan Senapati’s Prayaschitta (The Penance) and Utkal Bhramanam ( A Tour Through Odisha), Gopabandhu Das’s Kara Kavita (Prison Poems) and Bandi ra Atmakatha ( A Prisoner’s Autobiography). She has five collections of original English poems (Dusk Diary,  Alone,  Songs of Solitude,  Moods and Moments,  and Never Say No to A Rose) to her credit. She was awarded the Prabashi Vasha Sahitya Sammama by The Intellect , New Delhi in 2017, and the  Fakirmohan Anuvad Sammana in 2022.

1 Comment

  1. Seba Srujanika



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