Translated from the Hindi by Moulinath Goswami
In my treasury
my mother had left me
a sackful of ‘next birth’
and seven cartons of ‘previous birth’.
The mice were greedy
ignorant of the formula to contain their clan
…thus they all merrily polished off
three-fourths of my future
and one-half of my past.
I winnowed them all
and squared off all my debts
cleansed the throes of my existence
settled all transactions.
Now, what else is left with me?
If it appears to you,
there is something
that to date has remained in my bones,
perhaps a fire—
come and ignite your own firewood.
People are distancing themselves—
(everyone moving away from the other)—
People are turning distant
thus dilating the ‘space’ around me!
I shall translate this ‘space’
not as ‘expanse’, but as the ‘sky’
for I have let loose a flying saucer in it.
I thank time
that my watch has stopped;
I thank the window
for the sparrow could become pregnant
behind its grilles!
I thank them all
as they are and wherever they are
for at this very moment, they all are inside me,
and piecemeal, I am inside them!
My vacuous house
keeps on bellowing the harmonium!
There is a lot of work to be done
in these ‘vacuous’ times.
Now I have to translate
the fripperies of the house
in the language of water,
then I shall translate soiled plates
into petals of some white flower…
Then I would stand for a while and ponder
if I shall ever be able to translate
a foam-filled sink into some raga?
In fact, I want this entire house translated
in some other language
but where shall I find such language
other than the one that my children speak?
By this time, it would be evening,
and I would translate only so much of this evening
that I shall get up—
draw the curtains aside!
Scattered shards of the last radiance
would fill the entire space in the blink of an eye.
Then I shall translate it
not as ‘sky’ but as ‘expanse’—
Also, read an analytical piece on transnational literature, post-colonial literature, and second-generation network in contemporary Italy, by Maria Grazia Negro, and published in The Antonym: