[ free verse version | bilingual version | notes on translation | stage directions for performance by children ]


the valiant

by rabindranath tagore

khokA = darling boy; dAdA = elder brother;
lAThi = sturdy staff; beherA = palanquin porter
Joradighi = place name; (joRA=twin, dighi=lake)
bIrpuruSh = valiant one; (bIr = brave; puruSh = man)
(note: pronounce A = aa)

just imagine mother, that you and i
are travelling far (can't remember why)
     your palanquin's rocking to and fro
     with four beherAs going heiyA-ho
besides them i am trotting along
on my little red pony, singing a song.

my hoof-dust clouds the end of day
thorn-bushes bleak in the low sun's ray
     it's barren, barren, every which way
     even the animals have gone away
imagine it's dark: you can barely see
we've come to the wilds of jorAdighi

we are cutting through the fields of bramble
it's nearly night, the beherAs scramble
     the path curves out a little ahead,
     we are going over a dead river bed
in the plodding silence, you suddenly shout   
"are those lights out there, moving about?"

just then the cry: "hAre re re re re"
you can hear them charging; utter disarray   
     beherAs running helter skelter
     you pray to heaven for divine shelter
but i tell you calmly, "mA don't worry!
i am here with you, now _they'll be sorry!"

skins gleaming in the flickering light       
twirling lAThis they come, a fearsome sight  
     i yell, "wait!", and "stop right there!
     beware my sword now, don't you dare!
just one more step and your blood will spray!"
but they just explode with a "hA re re re re re"   

you tell me, all trembling, "khokA, don't go!"
i say, "mA, just watch."  and with a "heigh ho",
     i spur my horse into the villainous mass		
     their shields ring out on my cutlass
such a terrible battle,  you'd swoon if i say
so many heads cut off, so many run away...

at the end you're weeping, "my khokA is dead!"		
just then i'm back, all sweaty blood-red.
     i call out, "mA, it's over, the fight!"
     you come out then and hug me tight
you lift me to your lap with a kiss: "khokA dear,
what _would i have done, if you hadn't been here!"

such useless things happen all the time
why can't _this be true at least one time?
     oh then it would be a real fairy tale	  
     everyone would rave, though dAdA would rail:
"pah! how can this be? he isn't even that strong!"
but neighbours would say, "lucky khokA went along!"

[ feedback? ]

transl. amit mukerjee
kanpur, 26 november 2007
(thanks, molly a.k.a.
dipika mukherjee for your inputs!)

[ free verse version | bilingual version | notes on translation | stage directions for performance by children ]