My Old Servant by Kumud Biswas SignUp


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My Old Servant
by Kumud Biswas
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Like a ghost to look at he is an idiot
He is a solid blockhead
Whenever something is lost
My wife says,
‘It’s Kesta who is the thief.’
I scold him always
But little does he care
He gets more in beatings
Than what he gets as his salaries
Yet he will never beware
When I need him most
I shout at the top of my voice
However much I may urge
He won’t readily respond
And I have to search him
In all possible place.
If I give him something in one piece
In a matter of minute
He will bring it back in three.
If I give him three
He will bring back one
Unable to say where’s the rest.
Little will he choose
Either about the hour
Or about the place
Soundly he will fall asleep
When I abuse him loudly
Calling him a rascal, an ass
Standing by the door
He will only laugh
Very often he makes me lose my temper
Yet I cannot sack him
For I feel very much attached
For a very long time
He has been serving us.
My wife is furious
And she says,
‘It’s thoroughly disgusting
I am going to leave this house
With your dear Kesta you live.
He is totally lacking in discipline
Let alone the furniture and fixtures
Money is being spent like water
He will take the whole day
If he goes to the market
If you try a little
Can’t you find a substitute!’
Greatly enraged I rush to the market
To drag him home by his hair
I tell him, ‘Rascal, leave us at once
You I do fire.’
Gently he leaves
I think it’s a good riddance
But I find him the very next day
Offering me my hookah
What an idiot indeed!
He looks happy as usual
Doesn’t feel sorry
He is totally unperturbed!
Even if I fire him
He won’t leave
I feel quite helpless
For a very long time
He has been serving us.
That year I earned some extra money
It was a windfall from brokerage
I resolved to visit the holy city of Brindavan
But my wife wants to accompany, alas!
I argued to convince her
Husband’s virtue is wife’s too
Otherwise a lot more money we will have to spend.
With ropes and strings
My wife tightly tied and packed my things
And then told me in tears,
‘You are going to an alien place
With Kesta as your mate
A lot of troubles you will have to face.’
I told her, ‘Don’t worry
Nibaran is also going with us.’
The train I left by was an express
Getting down at Bardhaman I found
My Krishnakanta was as serene as ever
He had already readied my hookah
How audacious he was!
I abuse him much but was now pleased
Seeing my old servant by my side.
We got down at the holy city
But looking right and left
Before and behind
As far as I could see
An army of touts was surrounding me
And I was gasping for breath.
Like friends
Six or seven of us got together
And rented a house
I thought I’ll spend my days
In comfort and peace–
But woe me!
Where are the milkmaids
Where are the garlands
Where was the god
With those garlands bedecked!
In these happy spring days
I was down with pox.
All those friends
Left one by one
I was all alone
With my whole body covered with pox
Day and night
In a feeble voice I call,
‘Kesta come near
Don’t stay away,
At long last, I am afraid,
In this alien land I’ll die.’
Seeing his face I get some courage
He appears to be a great treasure indeed –
My old servant
Always standing near my head.
He gives me water to drink
He asks me how I feel
And caresses my head
Neither he sleeps
Nor does he eat
But keeps quietly standing by my bed
Again and again he tells me,
‘My master, don’t be afraid,
You will go back home
And see my madam soon.’
I recovered and was up
But he was down with fever
He took over my fatal disease
Totally unconscious
He survived for two days
And then he breathed his last –
I have wanted to fire him so many times
But this time finally he left.
After some time finishing my pilgrimage
I returned home
But without my servant
Throughout my whole life
He had been my fellow and friend.
Transcreation of the poem Puratan bhritya from the collection Chitra by Rabindranath Tagore. The original in Bengali script may be viewed at


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October 31, 2010
More By: Kumud Biswas
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