Theme: Life

Still Life

by Kumud Biswas
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That village looks so hazy in the sun
As hazy as its unknown name
For a fleeting moment
I pass by it
Raising a lot of dust
It casts a moving picture on my eyes.

I saw a girl of the village
With a pitcher on her head
And clad in a colorful dress;
A grocer by the side of the road
Carrying on his business;
A village wife newly wed
Looking through the doors ajar
With her deep black eyes
Peeping from behind her veil
Seeing the people passing
Along the village road;
In the dying light
At the foot of the banyan tree
A group of village elders
Absorbed in their play at cards.
This much only I see
And pass in a hurry
In a moment
The village recedes
And again becomes hazy.

On the eastern verge of that unknown village
The sun rises in the morning
And in the evening it sets.
Its days are busy
Its nights are full of sleep and dreams
In its huts and meadows
On its ways
Where its maidens carrying water leave
Wet marks of their feet;
In its mornings
Full of the songs of birds
At the end of its days
In its dimly lit nights
Waves of joys and sorrows
Rise and fall without a break '
Sometimes they are articulate
Sometimes they are mute.

Suppose together they raised a voice,
Wrote with their flaming torches
And found words to express
What sways their lives
What they deeply feel
A stream would then rise
From the heights of their minds
To seek the sea
Breaking and sweeping
Boulders and pebbles
On its way '
A stream that roars in the eddies
Of their joys and sorrows '
In amazement I would then see it all
As one sees a thundering fall.

A war has begun in Spain
A horrible fratricide is going on
Its news has spread throughout the world
But those who have no news
Those numerous races
Who cannot loudly shout
And make themselves heard
Who will listen to them?
Their minds are agitated
Also like billowing oceans
Through eternal time
It is sitting in the heart of a turbulent world
Yet it feels no tremor
My mind has taken its seat in its midst.
Who has drawn an immovable pall
Over this vast pageant of life?
Its flickering flame gives them light
A larger history it does not mirror.

The scientists have found out
The fire that burns
In the heart of the stars
In immense bright blasts
Is creation's incessant flow
It sears and singes the entire space
But the fire that burns
In millions of human hearts
The heat and sweat
And the torments it daily suffers
Revolve silently around an unknown hub
To mortal beings
It is so calm and quiet
Like the flaming stars
Swimming through the cosmic storms of light
Look so calm and quiet to them
In star-lit nights.

Translation of the poem – Chalti chhabi – from the collection Senjuti by Rabindranath Tagore. The original poem will be found here


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