Categories
Tagore Translations

Rabindranath & Autumn

Eshechhe Sarat ( Autumn) by Rabindranath Tagore was published in 1937. The poem flows to describe the season of Sarat, or the early part of autumn, when Bengalis celebrated their major festival, Durga Puja

Autumn in Bengal by Sohana Manzoor
AUTUMN 

A cool breeze awakens
Autumn anew.
At dawn, the grass rim
Is lined with dew.

The amloki groves shiver.
Their hearts pound like drums,
As they know the time to shed
Leaves has clearly come.

The shiuli branches are laden with buds.
The togor blossoms hold sway.
The bees visit sprays of the
Malatilata twice a day.

As the rains have ended, 
The clouds roam the skies free. 
They drift with the breeze, 
At leisure and full of glee. 

The ponds ripple with water.
Their banks bloom with flowers.
The young rice plants fill the fields
The wind swings the paddy bowers. 

Wherever I look, a golden light 
Suffuses a vision of holidays,
The festive sun rises in the woods
Of puja* blossoms drenched in gold rays. 


------------------------------------------
Amloki is Indian gooseberry
Togor (genera: milkwood), shiuli (jasmine)and Malatilata (Rangoon creeper) are flowers that bloom around autumn
*Durga Puja

This poem was a part of Sahaj Path, a set of books created by Tagore to teach the Bengali language. The four books that constitute the set were illustrated by the famed artist Nandalal Bose (1882-1966), who was also a major part of Santiniketan.

Sahaj Path, Tagore’s Bengali primer, of which this poem was a part. Courtesy: Creative Commons

(This poem has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty with editorial backing from Anasuya Bhar and Sohana Manzoor)

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Tagore Translations

Autumnal Songs Translated by Fakrul Alam

These are songs of Tagore centred around autumn, a season that is split into two parts in Bengal. Early autumn is called Sarat and late autumn Hemonto. The first two songs are descriptive of Sarat and the last one of Hemonto.

Autumn: Art by Sohana Manzoor
SAY WHAT YOU WILL (Tomra Ja Bolo tai bolo, written in 1921)

Say what you all will, I don’t mind
My time flies, and hours pass, aimlessly
The wild wind stirs me to a song
And spreads its tune across this deep-blue sky.
That song has stuck in my mind.
What nectar do I seek in the humming of bees?
Whose sky-pervading gaze seeks me out
And settles on my sight thus this day?
Shiuli flower that bloom in autumns in Bengal. Courtesy: Creative Commons
THE HEART WAS AWAKE (Hridoye Chheele Jege, written in 1921)

You were wide awake in my heart 
But I see you in autumnal clouds this day!
How was it you stole so quietly away at dawn,
Letting only your dress’s borders caress the dew?
            What song is it that I should sing?
            I simply can’t find words for it now!
They lie scattered with shiuli flowers under forest canopies
They’ve flown away with the gusting winds in sudden showers.
                        ***
Shiuli-Jasmine
Flowering Kash grass. Courtesy: Creative Commons
AUTUMNAL NIGHTS (Himer Raate, 1927)

On such cool autumnal nights
Hemonto hides heaven’s lamps with its cloak.
To every house it gives this call,
“Light festive lamps, make bright the night,
Shine your own lights, illuminate the world.”
Gardens are flowerless now; cuckoos sing no more;
Kash reed flowers keep falling by riverbanks,
But let go of darkness, despair and misery; light festive lamps-- 
Shine your own lights and proclaim the triumph of light
The gods look on — sons and daughters of earth, arise,
Illuminating the night,
Darkness may descend and day end but light festive lamps,
Shine your own light and triumph over this dark night
                         ***
Hemonto-Late autumn
Kash-Long grass

Below is a Youtube upload of Autumnal night or Himer Raate sung by the legendary singer Debabrata Biswas (1911-1980)

Fakrul Alam is an academic, translator and writer from Bangladesh. He has translated works of Jibonananda Das and Rabindranath Tagore into English and is the recipient of Bangla Academy Literary Award (2012) for translation and SAARC Literary Award (2012).

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Categories
Tagore Translations

Skit by Rabindranath: The Treatment of an Ailment

Translated from Bengali by Somdatta Mandal, this satirical skit was part of Hasyakoutuk[1] (1914) or ‘Humour’ by Tagore

Courtesy: Creative Commons

Scene One

Enter Haradhan panting and limping.

Haradhan: God! Today I’ve really been heckled in trying to steal duck’s eggs from the English doctor’s stable. I thought I’ll die in the way he chased me. Scared, I tried to escape and fell inside a ditch. My leg is fractured but I’m not sad about it. I’m satisfied in being able to run away alive. The doctor kills all his patients as soon as he gets the opportunity; he wants to finish me off though I don’t have an ailment. From now on, I will not steal duck’s eggs everyday. I will steal the duck once and for all and it will lay eggs in our house.

From inside: Haru!

Haradhan: (fearfully) Oh, father has come. If he finds me limping in one foot, he will beat me so much that the other one will also become lame.

Enter Father.

Haradhan: (advancing) Yes, father.

Father: Why are you limping?

Haradhan scratches his head.

Father: (annoyingly) How did you break your leg?

Haradhan: I didn’t break it deliberately.

Father: I know that. But tell me how you broke it.

Haradhan: I don’t know, father.

Father: You don’t know how you broke your leg? Will the oilman Gobra from the other locality know?

Haradhan: I did not realise when it got broken.

Father: Is it so? If I break your head with this stick, will you know then?

Haradhan: (quickly shielding his head with his hand) No, father. I broke the leg in trying to save this head.

Father: I’ve understood. Like the other day, did you go to the English doctor’s house to steal duck’s eggs and they have broken your leg?

Haradhan: (rubbing his eyes) Yes, father. I am not to be blamed. I did not break my own leg, they broke it.

Father: Shameless boy! Will you never be conscious?

Haradhan: What is consciousness, father?

Father: You want to know what consciousness is? (Hits him on the back) This is called consciousness.

Haradhan: I get that every day.

Father: I can see that you will die in jail.

Haradhan: No, father. If I get consciousness everyday, then I will die at home.

Father: Oh, I cannot cope with you.

Haradhan: (looking at the basket) Father, for whom have you brought that palm fruit? Can I eat it?

Father: (whacking his back) Here, have it.

Haradhan: (rubbing his back) I did not like it.

From inside: Haru!

Haradhan: Yes, mother?

Mother (from inside): I’ve made palm fruit fries for you. Come and have it.

                                               [Haradhan goes out limping]

Scene Two

Haradhan is about to steal the duck in the doctor’s stable.

Father: (from afar) Haru!

Haradhan: Oh my god! Father is coming. What should I do?

Haradhan has a long bag dangling from his neck to his stomach. He puts the duck quickly inside the bag.

Father: Haru! (silence) Hara! (silence) Hero!

Haradhan: Yes, sir.

Father: Why has your tummy swollen up like that?

Haradhan: After eating the palm fruit fries yesterday, father.

Father: Why is there a quacking sound?

Haradhan: The intestines inside are making that noise.

Father: Well, let me feel it with my hand.

Haradhan: (quickly) No, no. Don’t touch it. It’s too painful.

Quacking sound heard from the tummy again.

Father: (to himself) I’ve understood everything. I’ll have to teach this naughty boy a lesson. (To Haru) Your ailment is not very simple. Come son, let me take you to the hospital.

Haradhan: No, father. This happens sometimes but gets cured on its own.

Quack, quack, quack.

Father: What happened? This is gradually increasing. Come, no more waiting.

Drags him and goes out.

Scene Three

Haradhan, Father and Mother.

Mother: (crying) What has happened to my poor boy?

Father: Listen, don’t create so much trouble. He will be cured once he’s taken to the hospital.

Mother: Am I creating too much trouble or is your son’s stomach creating too much trouble? (scared) He’s quacking like a duck. My dear Haru, I’ll never give you duck’s eggs to eat – there’s a duck quacking in your tummy. What will happen?

Haradhan: (quickly) No, mother. It’s not a duck but the palm fruit fries. Who told you it was a duck? It can’t ever be a duck. OK, let’s have a bet whether it is the palm fruit fries or not.

Mother: Do palm fruit fries call in that manner?

Haradhan: Mother, please keep quiet. My stomach is calling even more because you are creating such a commotion.

Father: I have some work in the Bose household. I’ll take Haru to the hospital after that.

Quack, quack, quack.

Mother: Oh my god, this is gradually increasing. Oh Mukherjee Babu!      

Enter Mr.Mukherjee.

Mukherjee: What’s the matter?

Mother: My poor son’s pain is increasing gradually. Please take him quickly to – what you call it – your hospital.

Mukherjee: I’ve been saying that right from the beginning. Haru’s father has been delaying the whole thing. (To Haru) Come, get up. Let’s go.

Haradhan: No, grandpa. I won’t go to the hospital. Nothing has happened to me.

Mukherjee: What do you mean nothing has happened? The whole locality is upset by the call of your tummy. It seems that the three elements – rheumatism, cough and bile – have all combined together to create a war in your stomach.

                                                                 [Takes him out by force.]

Scene Four

In the hospital. The English doctor and Haradhan.

Doctor: What has happened to your stomach?

Haradhan: Nothing, Sahib. You forgive me this time sahib, nothing has happened to me.

Doctor: If nothing has happened, then what is this?

Pokes his tummy and the quacking sound doubles.

(laughing) I have completely understood your ailment.

Haradhan: I am touching your body and promising you sahib. I do not have any ailment. I’ll never do such a thing again.

Doctor:  You have a serious ailment.

Haradhan: Don’t I know my ailment? You know?

Quack, quack.

(He beats the bag with anger). Oh god! This quacking never stops.

Doctor: (brandishing a huge knife) You have a stealing ailment and it will not be cured without this knife.

He tries to cut open his stomach.

Haradhan:(cries and takes out the duck) Sahib, here’s your duck. My stomach could not tolerate your duck in any way. The eggs were better instead.

The doctor beats Haradhan.

Sahib, there is no need for it. My ailment is completely cured.


[1] Translated from “Rog-er Chikitsya” (Jaisthya 1292 B.S.) by Somdatta Mandal

Somdatta Mandal is a former Professor of English and ex-Chairperson, Department of English, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, India. A recipient of several prestigious fellowships like the Fulbright Research and Teaching Fellowships, British Council Charles Wallace Trust Fellowship, Rockefeller Residency at Bellagio, Italy, Salzburg Seminar and Shastri Indo-Canadian Faculty Enrichment Fellowship, she has been published widely both nationally and internationally. She has also an award from Sahitya Akademi for the All India Indian Literature Golden Jubilee (1957-2007) Literary Translation Competition in the Fiction category for translating short stories series ‘Lalu’ by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya.

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Tagore Translations

Rabindranath’s Song of Hope

First published in 1915 in Sabuj Patra, ‘Hobe Joye (Victory will be ours)’, has been translated as ‘Song of Hope’

Sabuj Patra was a magazine in which Tagore published often. This is the logo designed by the eminent artist Nandalal Bose who was a close associate of Tagore. The lettering in Bengali gives the name of the journal, which translated means, Green Leaves.
SONG OF HOPE

Victory will be ours, victory will be ours, victory will be ours, 
O valiant, O fearless! 
Life will conquer — eternal life, the song of joy will triumph.
Love will win over anger. The enlightened will prevail. 
This dusk too shall pass, shall fritter away. 
O valiant, O fearless! 
Awake, open your eyes, may your weariness fade away. 
Let the light of hope illuminate a fresh dawn. 

The song in the original Bengali had been rendered by the legendary Pankaj Mullick(1905-1978), who was impacted by Tagore and even gave the music for Diner Sheshe, Ghumer Deshe (translated as ‘The Last Boat’).

This has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty with editorial backing from Sohana Manzoor and Anasuya Bhar.

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Tagore Translations

Poetry on Rain by Rabindranath

Tagore’s Nobobarsha (or ‘New Showers’) celebrates the onset of rains. The poem was written in 1900 and brought out that year itself as part of Kshanika (Momentary).  It can also be found in Sanchayita (An Anthology of Selected Works), his poetry collection brought out by Visva Bharati, in 1931.

Clouds . Art by Sohana Manzoor
New Rains

My heart dances today — dances like a peacock.
Like the shimmer of its plumes,
My heart glistens with rapturous colours.
When I see the sky, my longing loses itself in euphoria.
My heart dances today — dances like a peacock.

The clouds rumble, rumble high up in the heavens.
The rain rushes in.
The new stalks of rice quiver.
Doves shiver silently in their nests, frogs croak in flooded fields,
The clouds rumble, rumble in the heavens.

I see the clouds’ tear-filled eyes lined, lined with blue kohl.
Ecstasy innervates
The grass and deep shady woods.
The floral bowers bloom with a new zest.
I see the clouds’ tear-filled eyes are lined with blue kohl.

Oh, who has untied her hair in gay abandon, in abandon on the palace's roof?
Who has covered her bosom
In blue, who has come
Back to play with slivers of lightning?
Oh, who has untied her hair in abandon on the palace's roof?

Oh, by the riverbank lined with grass, who sits in dark raiment dripping purity?
The young malati flowers wonder distractedly
As they gaze at the distant skies, where
Does the vessel float as it leaves the ghats?
Oh, by the riverbank lined with grass, who sits in dark raiment?

Oh, who swings today on the lonely swaying bakul branch, swings and sways?
The bakul flutters and falls.
An aanchal* soars to the the sky with yearning,
A lock of hair flies to cover the eyes, the karabi flower drops.
Oh, who swings today on the lonely swaying bakul branch?

In this chaos, who has moored his boat, his new boat by the riverside?
Clumps of cotton-like moss
Fill the watery banks.
The clouds sing soulful songs with tear-filled eyes.
In this chaos, who has moored his new boat by the riverside?

My heart dances today —
Dances like a peacock.
A heavy downpour falls on the new leaves,
The garden quivers with the chirrup of crickets.
The river has crossed the bank and approaches the village.
My heart dances today — dances like a peacock.

*Loose end of a Saree

(This poem has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty)

There is also an English translation [1]of the poem by Tagore. The translation is shorter and of twenty lines only as opposed to the 41 lines of the full-length poem. The poet’s translation is a part of Tagore’s Poems edited by Krishna Kripalani, Amiya Chakravarty, Nirmalchandra Chattopadhyay and Pulinbehari Sen ( Calcutta: Visva Bharati, 1942).

Screenshot of Tagore’s own translation from Bichitra Varorium by Anasuya Bhar

 The poet’s own translation is sung in the original language it was written in, Bengali. Here we present the song sung by a reputed singer, Srikanto Acharya.

Thanks to Bichitra Varorium, to Anasuya Bhar for her research and editorial advise, Sohana Manzoor for her art and editorial comments. Tagore’s short translation has also been used as a resource for improving the translation of the full-length poem. 


[1] Bichitra Varorium, researched by Anasuya Bhar

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Tagore Translations

A Monsoon Song by Tagore Translated by Fakrul Alam

Tagore’s Mono Mor Megher Shongi translated as ‘My Friends, the Clouds’ was first published in the spring of 1939 and is now a part of Gitabitan. It has been translated by Professor Fakrul Alam for us.

Megher Songi or Cloud Companions, Art by Sohana Manzoor
MY FRIENDS, THE CLOUDS

My mind keeps company with clouds
And soars with them in all directions.
To the pitter patter pitter patter of sravan showers,
My mind swerves towards infinite space.
Flying on the wings of swans and cranes,
In startling, dazzling flashes
Accompanied by ringing, clanging sounds of fiery delight,
In murmurings, rumblings and then incessant downpours,
Clouds usher in cataclysmic sounds and sights.
The wind blows from the eastern sea
Making the river water sparkle, surge and ripple.
My mind flows forward overwhelmed with joy,
Past palm trees, groves and forests,
All astir, keyed up, excited!

Here we have the song presented in Bengali by a legendary singer, Hemanta Mukherjee (1920-1989)

Fakrul Alam is an academic, translator and writer from Bangladesh. He has translated works of Jibanananda Das and Rabindranath Tagore into English and is the recipient of Bangla Academy Literary Award (2012) for translation and SAARC Literary Award (2012).

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Tagore Translations

The Welcome: A Skit by Rabindranath

Translated from Bengali by Somdatta Mandal, this satirical skit[1]was part of Hasyakoutuk (1914) or Humour by Tagore

 

Courtesy: Creative Commons

Scene One

A village road

Chaturbhuj Babu has come to his village after passing his M.A. exams. He had expected the entire village to be exuberant. He has a stout Kabul cat with him.

Enter Nilratan

Nilratan: So here is Chatubabu. When did you come?

Chaturbhuj: After appearing for my M.A. examination in college –

Nilratan: Oh! This cat is very exquisite.

Chaturbhuj: The examination this time was –

Nilratan: Sir, where did you get this cat?

Chaturbhuj: Bought it. The subject I had elected this year –

Nilratan: How much did you pay for it, sir?

Chaturbhuj: Can’t remember. Nilratanbabu, has anyone graduated from our village?

Nilratan: Plenty. But there is no such cat in the vicinity.

Chaturbhuj: (to himself) Oh God! He only speaks about cats. He does not talk about my success in the exams.

Enter the Zamindar

Zamindar: Oh, here is Chaturbhuj! What did you do all this while in Kolkata, son?

Chaturbhuj: Sir, just came after my M.A. exams.

Zamindar: What did you say? Meye[2]? Given a girl to somebody? To whom have you given?

Chaturbhuj: No, not that. After B.A.—

Zamindar: You have got your daughter married? Her biye[3]? But we did not get to know about it.

Chaturbhuj: Not marriage, but B.A. –

Zamindar: Oh, it’s the same thing. In the city you call it B.A., in our village we call it biye. Ok. Let that be. This cat is very beautiful.

Chaturbhuj: You are mistaken. My –

Zamindar: What mistake? Go and find a similar cat in this whole district.

Chaturbhuj: No, sir. I am not talking about cats –

Zamindar: Yes, we are talking about cats. I am saying that we can’t get such cats.

Chaturbhuj: (to himself) Goodness gracious!

Zamindar: Come with your cat to our locality in the afternoon. The children will be very happy to see it.

Chaturbhuj: Yes, they will surely be happy. They haven’t seen me for a long time.

Zamindar: Yes, that’s true. But I am saying that if you cannot come, then send it through Beni. I want to show it to the children.

[Exit]

 

Uncle Satu enters

Uncle Satu: Here you are. Seeing you after a long time.

Chaturbhuj: Won’t it take long? So many examinations –

Uncle Satu: This cat –

Chaturbhuj: (annoyed) I am going home.

[About to leave]

Uncle Satu: Here, listen to me. This cat –

Chaturbhuj: No sir, I have work at home.

Uncle Satu: Here, at least answer one question. This cat –

[Chaturbhuj does not reply but walks out hurriedly]

Uncle Satu: Oh God! These children have become very clever after being educated. They have many attributes but too much pride.

[Exit]

Scene Two

The inner domain of Chaturbhuj’s house

Maid: Mistress. Dada has come home very angry.

Mother: Why?

Maid: How do I know?

Enter Chaturbhuj

Small boy: Brother, I want this cat –

Chaturbhuj: (slapping him) Day in and day out only cat, cat, cat!

Mother: Poor son. Is he annoyed for nothing? He has come home after such a long time and the children are pestering him too much. Go! All of you go from here. [To Chaturbhuj] Give it to me, son. I have kept rice and milk for it. I’ll go feed your cat.

Chaturbhuj: (angrily) Take it, mother. All of you only feed the cat. I will not have food. I’m leaving.

Mother: (earnestly) What sort of statement is that? Son, your meal is ready. Just go and take your bath.

Chaturbhuj:    I am leaving. In your country only cats are admired. There is no place for geniuses. (He kicks the cat)

Aunt: Oh, don’t beat it. It has done no harm.

Chaturbhuj: All your affection is for the cat. You don’t have any pity for the human being. (Exit)

Small girl: (pointing offstage) Uncle Hari, come and see. Its tail is so thick and bushy.

Hari: Who’s tail?

Girl: There, his.

Hari: Is it Chaturbhuj’s?

Girl: No, the cat’s.

Scene Three

The road. Chaturbhuj with a bag in hand. No cat with him.

Sadhucharan: Sir, where is your cat?

Chaturbhuj: It’s dead.

Sadhucharan: Oh! How did it die?

Chaturbhuj: (Disgusted) I don’t know, sir.

Enter Paranbabu.

Paran: Sir, what happened to your cat?

Chaturbhuj: It is dead.

Paran: Really? How did it die?

Chaturbhuj: Just as you all will die. With a rope around your neck.

Paran: Oh my god, He is too angry.

A group of boys follow Chaturbhuj. Clapping themselves they tease him shouting

“Kabuli Cat,” “Kabuli Cat.”


[1] [Translated from “Abhyarthana” (Bhadra 1292 B.S.) by Somdatta Mandal]

[2] Daughter in Bengali

[3] Wedding in Bengali

Somdatta Mandal is a former Professor of English and ex-Chairperson, Department of English, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, India. A recipient of several prestigious fellowships like the Fulbright Research and Teaching Fellowships, British Council Charles Wallace Trust Fellowship, Rockefeller Residency at Bellagio, Italy, Salzburg Seminar and Shastri Indo-Canadian Faculty Enrichment Fellowship, she has been published widely both nationally and internationally. She has also an award from Sahitya Akademi for the All India Indian Literature Golden Jubilee (1957-2007) Literary Translation Competition in the Fiction category for translating short stories series ‘Lalu’ by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya.

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Tagore Translations

The Palmyra Tree or Taal Gaachh by Rabindranath

Taal Gaach or The Palmyra Tree was published as part of Shishu Bholanath (Child Bholanath) brought out in 1922. The poem has an inbuilt cadence and rhythm that flows like the sway of palmyra (commonly referred to as taal ) leaves in the breeze.

Taal Gaach, painting by Sohana Manzoor
THE PALMYRA TREE

The palmyra towers over all trees
Standing on one foot, it peeps
Into the sky.
It yearns to fly,
Piercing through dark clouds nigh 
But where will it find wings?
That is why, it thinks —
Leaves circling its crown
Are wings to float around.
To soar unhindered, free,
Leaving its home, it flees. 
The whole day, the foliage rustles,
Murmurs, susurrates and bustles. 
The tree imagines its flight, 
Drifting past stars in the sky, 
Towards a destination up high.
Then the breeze stalls.
The swish of leaves halts.
When it regards the loam
As its mother, its hearth.
It loves again its home, 
The nook on Earth. 

(This poem has been translated for Borderless Journal  by Mitali Chakravarty with editorial comments from Sohana Manzoor and Anasuya Bhar.)

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Tagore Translations

The Funeral: A skit by Rabindranath

Translated from Bengali by Somdatta Mandal, this satirical skit[1] was part of Hasyakoutuk (1914) or Humour by Tagore

Rabindranth’s bust in  Hungary, Balatonfüred, Tagore promenade

Scene One

Ray Krishnakishore Bahadur is lying on his deathbed. His three sons Chandrakishore, Nandakishore and Indrakishore are busy consulting each other. A doctor is present. The women are close to tears.

Chandra: Who are the people we should write to?

Indra: Write to Sir Reynolds.

Krishna: (With great difficulty) What will you write, son?

Nanda: The news of your death.

Krishna: But I am not yet dead, son.

Indra: You might not die right now, but we have to fix a time for the event and write that down…

Chandra: We should collect the condolence letters from all the Englishmen here and get them published in newspapers. No point in publishing them when all the excitement is gone!

Krishna: Patience boys; let me die first.

Nanda: We can’t wait, father. Let’s make a list of the letters to be sent to the people in Shimla and Darjeeling. Come on, let’s get all the names down.

Chandra: The Governor, Sir Ilbert, Sir Wilson, Beresford, Macaulay, Peacock –

Krishna: Boys, what names are you chanting so close to my ears? Chant God’s name instead. When the time comes, He is the only one who can save us! Hari –

Indra: Yes, good thing that you reminded us, we forgot to include Sir Harrison.

Krishna: My sons, say Ram, Ram –

Nanda: Really, I had forgotten about Sir Ramsey.

Krishna: Narayan, Narayan!

Chandra: Nanda, write down the name of Sir Noran also.

Enter Skandakishore.

Skanda: So, you people seem so relaxed! You still haven’t done the real thing!

Chandra: And what is that?

Skanda: We have to inform in advance all the people who will be part of the procession going to the funeral ghat.

Krishna: Sons, which one do you consider the real thing? First, I’ll have to die, only then –-

Chandra: No worries on that account. Doctor!

Doctor: Yes sir!

Chandra: How much time is left for father to go? When do the public have to be here?

Doctor: Perhaps–

The women start wailing.

Skanda: (Disgusted) Ma, will you stop it? You’re creating quite a scene!  It’s better to sort out everything in advance. When doctor?

Doctor: Most likely this night at—

The women start wailing again.

Nanda: This is a huge problem! You shouldn’t disturb us during work. What do you think your crying will accomplish? We are planning to publish condolence letters sent by important Englishmen in newspapers.

The women are sent out.

Skanda: Doctor, what do you think?

Doctor: From what I can see I think he will expire around four a.m.

Chandra: Then there is no time – Nanda, go quickly, get the slips printed at once right in front of your eyes.

Doctor: But first mustn’t the medicine—

Skanda: Look here! Your medicine shop will not run away. On the other hand, we’ll be in trouble if the print ring shop shuts down.

Doctor: Sir, the patient might not —

Chandra: That is why you must hurry. For who knows what might happen if the slips are printed before the patient —

Nanda: Here I go.

Skanda: Write down that the procession will begin at eight tomorrow.

 Scene Two

Skanda: What, doctor? It’s already seven now instead of four.

Doctor: (Apologetically) Yes, yes, amazing the pulse is still strong.

Chandra: You are a fine one doctor to have got us into this mess!

Nanda: Everything went wrong when I was late in bringing the medicine. In fact, dad began to recover as soon as the doctor’s medicine was stopped.

Krishna: All this time you were so very cheerful, why is everyone looking so glum all of a sudden? I am feeling fine now.

Skanda: We aren’t feeling that great. We had already finalized all preparations to go to the funeral pyre.

Krishna: Is that so? I guess I should have died.

Doctor: (Feeling irritated) Do one thing and that will solve all problems.

Indra: What?

Skanda: What?

Chandra: What?

Nanda: What?

Doctor: Instead of him why don’t one of you die when the time is ripe.

 

Scene Three

A lot of people have assembled in the outer house.

Kanai: Hello, It’s already eight thirty. Why are you all late?

Chandra: Please sit down. Have some tobacco.

Kanai: I’ve been [chewing] tobacco from the morning!

Bolai: Where is everybody? I can’t see signs of any arrangements being made.

Chandra: Everything is ready – it’s not our fault – now only—

Ramtaran: Hey, Chandra, we shouldn’t waste any more time.

Chandra: Don’t I understand that – but—

Harihar: What is causing the delay? We’ll be late for office, what’s the matter?

Indrakishore enters.

Indra: Don’t be impatient. We are almost ready. In the meantime, why don’t you read the condolence letters?

He distributes them.

This is from Lambert, this from Harrison, this is Sir James’s—

Skandakishore enters.

Skanda: Here take them. In the meantime, read the obituary notices on father in the newspapers. Here is The Statesman, here The Englishman.

Madhusudan: (To Yadav) Isn’t this typical? Bengalis won’t ever learn what punctuality is all about.

Indra: You’re absolutely right. They will die and yet never learn to be punctual.

The guests shed tears reading the newspapers and the condolence messages.

Radhamohan:  (in tears) Oh God, the poor man’s friend!

Nayanchand:   Alas! To think that even such a good man has his share of troubles.

Nabadwipchandra: (in a deep breath) Lord! Everything is your will!

Rasik:‘The lotus that blooms in the heart’ – I’m forgetting what comes after that –

                        ‘The lotus that blooms in the heart

                        Has been plucked untimely

                        The lotus heart sinks in the sea of sorrow!’

This is exactly the case here. The lotus heart in the sea of sorrow. How sad! Add esquire. O tempora! O mores[2]!

Tarkabagish[3]: Challchittang challadbittang, challajiwan – The mind is inconsistent, wealth is transitory and one’s life is perishable. Oh how sad!

Nyayabagish[4]: Yadupathe kri gata mathurapuri, raghupate – Where is the city of Mathura that belonged to the Lord of the Yadavas (i.e. Krishna), to the Lord of the Raghus (i.e. Rama Chandra)? (chokes)

Dukhiram: Oh Krishnakishore Bahadur, where have you gone?

 A faint voice can be heard from within:  I am here. Please, don’t shout.  


[1] [Translated from “Antyashti-Satkar” in the Hasyakoutuk series Bhadra 1293 B.S. by Somdatta Mandal].

[2] “Oh the times! Oh the customs!” – Latin phrase, first recorded to have been spoken by Cicero

[3] Bengali title given to an expert debator

[4] Bengali title given to a legal expert

Somdatta Mandal is a former Professor of English and ex-Chairperson, Department of English, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, India. A recipient of several prestigious fellowships like the Fulbright Research and Teaching Fellowships, British Council Charles Wallace Trust Fellowship, Rockefeller Residency at Bellagio, Italy, Salzburg Seminar and Shastri Indo-Canadian Faculty Enrichment Fellowship, she has been published widely both nationally and internationally. She has also an award from Sahitya Akademi for the All India Indian Literature Golden Jubilee (1957-2007) Literary Translation Competition in the Fiction category for translating short stories series ‘Lalu’ by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya.

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Categories
Tagore Translations

Hide & Seek by Tagore

First published in Shishu (Children) in 1909, Lucko Churi (Hide and Seek) is also a part of Tagore’s collection called Sanchayita. It captures the endearing, playful relationship between a mother and her son as well as the innocence of the child.

Champa flowers on a tree: Courtesy: Creative Commons
          HIDE AND SEEK
In a playful mood, if I were to 
      Bloom as a champa flower on a tree,
At dawn, O mother, I would frolic 
       Amidst the branches of young leaves.
I would win in this game of hide-and-seek.
         Would you have recognised me? 
You would call out, “Khoka, where are you? “
       I would only laugh silently. 

When you do your household chores
         I would watch from high above. 
After a bath, with your wet hair spread on your shoulder,
          When you would walk under the tree
To go to the prayer room
         While inhaling the perfume of the blooms —
You would wonder how
          Your Khoka’s scent mingles with the breeze! 

In the afternoon, after everyone has lunched 
            When you relax with a Mahabharat,
The shade of the tree by the windowsill 
            Would fall on your back and lap.
My tiny shadow would sway
           On the words of your book. 
But you would not know the shadow
      Of your darling wafts before your eyes. 

In the evening, after lighting a lamp,
       When you go to the cowshed,
I would finish my game 
       And drop down from the tree. 
Again, I would be your Khoka. 
        I would say,”Tell me a story.”
And you would ask,”Naughty! Where were you?”
      I would reply, “I will not tell you my secret.”

Courtesy: Creative Commons

(This poem has been translated for Borderless Journal  by Mitali Chakravarty with editorial comments from Sohana Manzoor and Anasuya Bhar.)

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