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the valiant

just imagine mother, that you and I
are travelling once from somewhere far
     you're in the palanquin
     with four beheras going heiyA-hA, 
your door's slightly ajar, so
you can see my chestnut pony, 
raising a storm of red dust

it's evening now, it's getting dark
we come to the heaths of joRAdighi
     barren as far as you can see
     you are thinking perhaps, 
"what's this place we've come to?"
i'm telling you, "don't worry mA, 
there you can see the dead riverbed."

bramble and brier hem us in
on our dark narrow path
    even the cows have returned 
    to the safety of the village.
one can barely see where we're going
suddenly you call out to me:
"khokA - what's that light 
     flickering by the water?"

just then, "hAre re re re re"
who are these yelling hordes
     you're scared, praying in a corner
     the six beheras run into the brier
it is only i who am telling you
"mA, what's there to be scared, 
     after all, I'm with you!"

waving lAThis they are charging at us
curled hair, red flowers stuck in the ear
     i yell out, "don't come near!
     just one more step and you'll taste
the sharp edge of this sword
you'll all be in pieces, i warn you!"
     but they just jump up - "hA re re re re re"

you're telling me, "khokA, sit still!"
i am saying, "mA, just wait and see!"
     i charge my horse into the mass
     shields ring out on my cutlass
o what a terrible battle that was
even telling it tingles my spine!
so many of them just ran away
     and so many heads i had to cut off!

you're crying, "o gods! khokA
is surely dead!" just then, 
     i get back, bloody from battle
     i call, "mA, the fight is over!"
you get off the palanquin then,
and lift me up and kiss my cheeks   
while hugging me tight you say, 
     "thank heavens my khokA was here!"

so many things happen all the time
why can't this be true as well
     o it would be just like a fairytale
     everyone would be struck with wonder
dAdA would say, pah! how can this be?
     khokA can't be that strong!"
but all the neighbours would say, 
     "lucky for mA, he had gone along!"

transl. amit mukerjee
kanpur, 2 october 2007

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