Categories
Poetry

Motorcar by Jibonananda Das

A translation of Jibonananda Das’s “OOnishsho Choutrish” (1934) by Rakibul Hasan Khan

Jibananda Das: Courtesy: Creative Commons

Jibonanada Das (1899-1954) was a writer from Bengal, who now is named as one of the greats after Tagore and Nazrul. During his life he wrote beautiful poetry, novels, essays and more. He believed: “Poetry and life are two different outpouring of the same thing; life as we usually conceive it contains what we normally accept as reality, but the spectacle of this incoherent and disorderly life can satisfy neither the poet’s talent nor the reader’s imagination … poetry does not contain a complete reconstruction of what we call reality; we have entered a new world.”

Motorcar

A motorcar
Fills the mind with misgivings.
A motorcar is always a thing of darkness,
Though its name is the first
Among the children of light
In the bright streets of daylight
And glowing gas lamps at night.


It's a creature of the dark:
In clear dawn light
While walking past green corn fields
I look at a motorcar in amazement
And see a 1934 model --
Glimmering, causing a dust storm,
Rushing on a red brick-built road
Going underneath two hijal trees;
Streets, fields and dew disappear.
The morning light suddenly vanishes,
Like a shy bride
Faced with a contrary view,
The field and river, as if, lifeless,
Suddenly lose poise.
This motorcar is a trailblazer,
It's rushing in the direction
Where everyone is supposed to be going;
The course of a motorcar
Fills the mind with misgivings,
Just like darkness.
In the stands

Beside footpaths
On the East and West sides of the city's main field
Are motorcars;
Soundless.
Heads covered,
Seats decorated and cavernous
Steering wheels and headlights polished;
Why are they so still?
A tree of a Kolkata park is still as well
But for other reasons;
I too am still but for another reason;
The stillness of a motor is for some dark reason

 
It is a dark thing:
In night's darkness, thousands of cars
Dash past
Paris-New York-London-Berlin
Vienna-Kolkata
On this and that shore of the sea
Like myriads of wires,
Like meteors of night,
Like endless enigmas
And with the endless resolve of men and women
They also run
But where they head to I don't know.

 
The destination of a motorcar – a motorcar itself
Has always been a mystery to me,
It seems to move towards some darkness.


I don't want to go anywhere so fast;
I have the leisure to walk to wherever I want,
The leisure to wait and lounge for a long time after reaching my destination.
Let other people be excited
About all kinds of amazing feats – I don't feel the need for them!  
I am a hopelessly outdated man
In this new century
Underneath the stars!

Rakibul Hasan Khan is an academic, poet, and translator. He is currently pursuing his PhD in English at the University of Otago, New Zealand. This translation was first published in Daily Star, Bangladesh.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

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