TJ (17th June 1958 / England)

Jengrai

A little before it was dark
We fell into the Subansiri
And with a tinful of water from the Subansiri
We washed the bow of our boat.

We are superstitious -
Only,
If our superstitions had been blind without a hole in their blindness!

At night on an islet of the Subansiri
We moored our boat.
(Will the guardian spirit of the islet watch over us?) ...
Overhead are the stars
The music of the spheres plays in our buffalos' bells
And this - is this the terror in the bells
Of the buffalos scattering at the scent of that tiger?

The smell of eddies bursting, the smell of the stars blossoming
The smell of the eddies blossoming, the smell of the rupees bursting! ! !

Lying on the bow of the boat
One can see the mud and the stars at the same time
The tiger's roar, the buffalo bells, the song that mermaids sing
All play together in discordant harmony.

At midnight
At the last frontier of peering
Or, is it in the inner side of my pupils
Two fires come and go... unceasingly
Fire of the will-o'-the-wisp, sentry at the Death-god's door
Otherwise, at the rising of the curtain -
That perhaps is the fire which will light my funeral pyre.

'Brother fire, be in this my hour merciful'
'Oh! What fire-burnt eyes.'
'If you think over it Lilymaai, in this life there is nothing'
When it was morning we unmoored our boat
And
(To me it is seemed all on a sudden)
Two Gangaa Chilanis began circling in the mist.

[ Translated by Ajit Barua ]

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Comments (1)

it's the words we don't say that conjure up the sharpest images...I love the deep, slow tale unfolding within this...quite an insight...great work.