I know this old book
Nobody reads it any more
Yet in my house it has been kept with care.
Every rotten page of that book
Retains the touches of her heart
Once so easily moved to pity
It was so long ago!
Any painful narrative
Used to bring tears to her two lovely eyes
She wore a black bordered sari
One end of it she wound around her head
She had two gold bangles on the wrists
Of her two caring hands.
On lonely mid-days
With her unkempt hair on the pillows
With rapt attention she read tragic stories.
Through the open windows could be seen
Flocks of pigeons flying
And below along the lane could be heard
The pedlars hawking.
On the door mat slept her pet dog
Often squeaking in its dreams.
She used to lose all sense of time
Till she woke up by the bell of the nearby school
Rung at its closing time.
Sighing she would hurriedly leave the bed
Keep the book on the shelf
And go to do her household chores.
Thus traveled this book from house to house
And its fame spread far and wide.
The times have changed since then
The book has lost its charm
Nowhere it now finds a place
The new reader, ensconced in an arm chair,
Is at his wit’s end –
How could such a book win innumerable hearts!
Now the narrow lane has become wide
Tramcars run there
The pedlar has left
His cheap fare sells no more
His hawking shouts have faded far.
A distant bell tolls the knell of the parting day.
Translation of the poem Purano boi from the collection Parishesh by Rabindranath Tagore.