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Theme: Emancipation Share This Page
by Kumud Biswas
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  Let the doctor say whatever he likes,
Near my head
Please, please keep those windows open
Let some air pass.
Medicine? I have done with it
Throughout my life
Everyday, at regular intervals
Both bitter and strong
I have taken so much
To me
To remain alive
Itself seems to be a kind of disease
So many kinds of treatments
So many kinds of remedies!
Once you are careless
You are sure to fall sick.
Duly shy and covered in a veil
Within this household's confines
I have spent twenty-two years of my life
Obeying injunctions
'Do this, don't do that'
Both far and near earning this repute
'She is a good housewife,
A very good creature indeed!

When I came to this house
I was a girl of nine
Since then
I have walked the long ways
Of this domestic life
Bearing on my head
The burden of likes and dislikes of many
Now I have reached the end of my way.
To think about my pleasure
To think about my pain
Where was the time?
Did I have any leisure to measure
Whether my life was good or bad
Or of any other kind?
The wheel of household chores
Revolved in a tired, monotonous tone
These twenty-two years
To that same turning wheel
Like a blindfolded beast
I have found myself bound
I couldn't find
Who I was
I didn't know
This world was wide
And full of meanings
I didn't know what message mankind
Carries through eternal time.
I only know
There is eating after cooking
And cooking after eating
These twenty-two years
To the same wheel
I have remained bound.
Now it seems
It is coming to a stop
So let it do
Why this medication again?

These twenty-two years
Spring came to the woodlands
The southerly wind
Swooned with scents of flowers
The heart of the whole world was swayed
And it gave a call, 'O ye open your gates.'
When did it come, when did it go
I couldn't know
May be it secretly shook me too
And suddenly
There would be a fall in the rhythm
Of my household chores
In my heart I would feel a pang
Of some long-forgotten pain
In the bewildered spring
Elated and depressed without any reason
My heart seemed to have kept waiting
For the sound of footfalls of someone unknown.
In the evening
Returning from office you would go
To play chess with your neighbor
Let us not talk about it any more.
I don't know
Why I remember today
What I suffered long ago.

For the first time in my life
After twenty-two years
Spring has come to my home
Looking at the sky through the windows
Why my mind is swelling up with pleasure
I am a woman, I am richly endowed,
The sleepless moon has set its tune to my tune
Without me
The rising of the evening star would have no meaning
The blossoming of the flowers in the garden would be futile.

For twenty-two years
My mind was imprisoned in your house
For that I didn't feel sorry
I spent my days unconscious
If I would have lived more days
I would have spent them thus
All your near and dear ones
Praise me as a good girl
And that seems to be the fulfillment of my life
A mere gossip in the corner of this house!
But today it seems
My bondage has snapped
Yonder I see
A confluence where death and life meet
In its fathomless depth
The walls of your storeroom dissolve like bubbles.

At last it seems
My wedding day flute
Is echoing through the skies
Let those paltry twenty-two years
Lie on the dust in the corner of that room.
Who has given me a call
For my union in death
He is not my lord
He is a supplicant at my gate
Me he will never neglect
He only wants
In me what is deepest and sweetest
In the midst of planets and stars he stands
Steadily gazing at my face
Sweet is the world
As a woman I am sweet
Sweet is also death
O my eternal beggar, open those gates
Into eternity let me pass
From those futile twenty-two years.

Translation of the poem Mukti from the collection Palataka (The Fugitive) by Rabindranath Tagore.
The original is at http://www.rabindra-rachanabali.nltr.org/node/10866
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February 18, 2007
More By: Kumud Biswas
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