book excerptise:   a book unexamined is wasting trees

chheleke history paRAte giye

mallikA মল্লিকা সেনগুপ্ত sengupta

sengupta, mallikA মল্লিকা সেনগুপ্ত;

chheleke history paRAte giye ছেলেকে হিস্ট্রি পড়াতে গিয়ে

Ananda Publishers, Kolkata, 2005

ISBN 8177564897

topics: |  poetry | bengali | gender | women

These translations are from 2006; some of these appeared in Kathamanabi

AmAr kabitA Aguner khonje [in search of fire, my poetry] p.10

my poetry is a parakeet in the dark, seeker of light
my poetry is a nuclear family, the green world's delight
my poetry is household worry, songs of mountains streams
my poetry is thermonuclear, large and little dreams
my poetry is fistfights at home, tears down the cheek
my poetry is the mass-raped girl, picnic by the creek
my poetry is a terrorist camp, kashmir to sheorafuli
my poetry reads abanindranath, relishes pather panchali

mad rantings of the helpless girl, that's how my poetry goes
in the burnt ruins of iraq, my poetry's a red red rose
shah bano to the ganges, medha patkar, that's my poetry
my poetry is the will to live, destroyer of symmetry.
my poetry stalks the world like a panther on main street
living in the sunderbans, will my poetry be tiger meat?
my poetry is the street-beggar child, baby dead in the womb
my poetry is hunger, famine, flood, ancient faqir's tomb

my poetry is the nude women's march, across manipur state
my poetry is in the kitchen, milling turmeric paste
ceasefire is my poetry, the young girl's bashful kiss
poetry is my tale of sorrow, first-year-of-marriage bliss
poetry is the memory of father, two lovers living apart
hats off to you all, tonguless khanaa vyas valmiki dante
my poetry dances to the flicker of flame, adagio andante.
   	    (tr. amitabha mukerjee, appears in Kathamanabi)

nashTa bAtighare [fallen women in a lighthouse] 43

tonight we'll become fallen women
in that old lighthouse.
the gleam of arcturus in darkest night
lapped by the ocean of stars, each a little kiss,
lip to lip a mad inebriation,
we'll overflow all inhibitions

love is wasted, emotions parched
like a dry riverbed.  old mansions
bombed out facade, starvation haunts...
in faraway tea gardens there's nothing to cook
loneliness in baghdad - the american soldier
drinks poison.

loneliness stalks us even as a hurricane
rages in the heart.  old lovers
have forsaken us.  that desolate
hunter, loneliness, trails us
desperate, like jailbirds we hide
cowering behind grilled traditions...

no more.  tonight we have clambered out
afloat on foaming passions we wander
along the wind-tossed waves - who
will take me to that old lighthouse
go go go rush.  tonight i shall become
a fallen woman.  which man is listening?

mAr [gang of sisters] 24

keep quiet while they bash you up, is that your goal?
or have they stuffed up your mouth - with charcoal?
dowry: cigarette burns on your skin -
will you just sit in the corner and  cry?
we're a gang of your sisters, now we've found your hole.

keep quiet while they bash you up - that can't be your goal!
come - together we'll invent the dread avenger's role
no doubt we'll have to fight,
but we have equal rights
on this earth - its air and sky
and we'll win - on our own terms - won't let them rape your soul.

samay asamayer kabitA [heroic times] 15

paarhaariyaa village.  the police all night
mass-raped.  in the dust, on the hillside
in the woods, by the path through open field
here and there the bodies lie.  the crescent moon
slowly it rises above thatched roofs.  broken
limb bodies like birds of myth - naked, unsure
a pervading presence, so ancient a danger
interred in dust, kelu finds his wife,

dhoti and shirt, harmlessman yadav
cornered, dehumanized, picks up a stick
lenin, stalin, marx, ho chi minh
no one saves him, the classless dream
dies unsung - gunfire, a life lost -
all for the nation, all to suppress
the rebels. their leader caught
the rapists of paarhaariya. heroes

in our village by the jungle stream
in our towns in the lanes and alleys
the rapists walk the streets,
their heads held high.
their eyes are still roving,
which woman will come by?

JuddhasheShe nArI [women after the battle] 26

after the battle said chenghis khan
the greatest pleasure of life,

is in front of the vanquished enemy
to sleep with his favourite wife.

after the plunder, after the feasts
into the harems, roam the hungry beasts

the battle rages between king and king
but it's only the woman who bears the sting
   	    (tr. amitabha mukerjee, appears in Kathamanabi)

amitabha mukerjee (mukerjee [at-symbol] gmail) 2012 Jan 10