There was an aggravation of my illness
For about five weeks I had to suffer much.
As my condition somewhat improved
There was no end to the number of visitors
They overcrowded my room
This caused more miseries than the disease.
Came Bhabesh, came Palit and my friend Ishan
Also came the politician
Last but not the least, came Gokul
Who is a newspaper reporter
And keeps track of everything
That happens in the neighbourhood.
Some said, ‘Go for a change’,
Others said, ‘Take healthy diet.’
Still there were some who advised,
‘For the treatment of your disease
Mahendra doctor was the best.’
But near the wall sitting behind all was Satish
He is our neighbour and is very dowdy -
Rarely combs his hair, his left eye glass is broken
And his shirt is unbuttoned
He is gentle and has a harmless look.
He always carries a notebook in his hand
Now and then he secretly takes notes
Of what nobody knows –
Is he a poet or an artist?
Nabin however whispers into my ears
He knows him well
He doesn’t have a whit of doubt
He is one whom people call a ‘spy.’
I seem to agree –
Assuming a harmless appearance
He collects materials for his report.
If he is such an abominable creature
I would rather hate him but never fear.
For about a year
I traveled in Punjab and Kashmir
When I came back, all came to see me –
Ganesh, Poltu, Nabin Pal and Makhanlal.
With a packet in his hand came Panchu
Whom I asked, ‘Where is your master,
Where is Satish?’
Nabin told me,
‘You don’t seem to know what has happened,
That jewel of a boy died fifteen days ago fasting.
He had joined the non-violent movement
And had gone to the Alipore jail.’
Panchu gave me the notebook.
I found its pages full of notings
Of what I have said about our country.
Satish had done it very devoutly
And sent it before going to the jail.
Today I think
The leaves of trees shed on the dust
Become dust at last
My words also would have been lost
Satish sought to save them giving permanence
With the touch of his self-sacrifice.
Translation of the poem Spy from the collection Parishesh by Rabindranath Tagore.