Bridge to Global Literature

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.

Who is Crying? and Other Poems— Ramchandra Pramanik

Jan 19, 2024 | Poetry | 1 comment

TRANSLATED FROM THE BENGALI BY SREEJATA PAUL
 
 
 
 
 
Who is Crying?
 
Who is crying, lips aquiver, on that branch-fork of the banyan? Can you see?
Isn’t that a kite? With a pile of unwashed dishes under the faucet –
You think of another impending night. Doesn’t it turn your stomach to see
that thing laid to rest? How, then, to tie up its back, and on a madur, put it to bed?
 
The afternoon drags on; sunlight rolls down, like a rag leaching colour.
In cuckold Swapan’s hands, the paper kite plummets haltingly, uttering a gentle call.
This cossetted light won’t be around for too long. And then the night will fall –
 
will blanket all. The man of this house will head to that house
in the other neighbourhood. Just imagine –
both his mortar and pestle in your hands; and with crooked-toothed mouth,
and eyes spellbound, asleep on the madur, she sees Swapan!
 
The more the night dozes and leans over, this devil-forsaken colleen of the weavers
swings menacingly before her eyes. Who is crying, lips aquiver?
Can you see? Isn’t that a kite? Some sky-traversing messenger?
 
 

 
A Hymn to Fire
 
Unadulterated
Fire engulfed you so easily today.
 
‘Coming’ often means ‘going’,
Can’t it mean ‘returning’ too?
 
You will burn to ashes, I know,
Doesn’t burning render things pure and imperishable?
 
A green flaccid split tongue darts about and devours
everything; will all really be cleansed?
 
Will the unadulterated then return?
 
 

 
Mukhagni
Everyday, I’ve told so many lies –
My kisses have been untrue, a mere force of habit,
I’ve lavished lotus-honey on each poisoned tooth
with care and exertion.
 
Water by the bank,
Pyre at its edge, wonders –
Will the fire’s infallible touch cleanse
all the lies, the poison, the duplicity?
 

 
Poem for Better Days to Come
That evening, you holding onto the railing
along the corridor of the second floor,
The florid sunlight hangs,
like a dream of better days to come.
In the street out front, a feriwala
announces his wares – ‘fresh jasmine!’ he says.
That fashion is dead and gone,
false dreams cry out in vain, again and again.
A chameleonic crowd roars on the street that-a-ways –
Today as well, a little light loses its way at dusk.
 
You stare nonchalantly into the distance,
dishevelled hair framing your face;
All three worlds empty, the all-pervading mind
is restless and wanders.
Do bourgeois pleasures, like flowers,
suit the middle-aged comrade in that house?
A bachelor’s disorderly room
in the rising heat,
The pages of a pair of dusty books
rustle and thrash around;
On nights secured off tutoring jobs,
Is it but a storm that bangs its head against the door?
A passionless, feeble hope – what if
better days are around the corner?
Does he ever raise his eyes
and see the jasmine blooming over there?
 
 

Also, read Skopje by Michele Porsia , translated from The Italian by Brenda Porster and published in The Antonym:

Skopje— Michele Porsia


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Ramchandra Pramanik

Ramchandra Pramanik was born in 1952 in a remote village of Bengal. After graduating with a master’s degree in English literature, he started working at a bank but moved on to join the civil services of the Government of India as an Income-tax official. He started writing at an early age, was associated with the editorial board of “Sangbed”, a Bengali literary journal. After a long break of twenty five years, he has recently come back to writing.

Sreejata Paul

Sreejata Paul

Sreejata Paul is Assistant Professor of English at Shiv Nadar Institution of Eminence, Delhi-NCR, India. Her research and writing largely revolve around Islam and gender in South Asia, women’s intellectual history, utopian and science fiction, women-centric Bollywood cinema, and South Asian content on OTT platforms. She has been translating literary and critical work from Bangla to English from 2017 onwards and is currently thinking through what words one leaves untranslated, how to capture changes of mood when translating verse, and the role of gender in translation.

1 Comment

  1. Malcolm Lall

    Fantastic composition and good that it’s translated into English for wider reading.

    Reply

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