One Day Eight Years Ago
Poem By Jibanananda Das
It was heard: to the post-mortem cell
he had been taken;
last night—in the darkness of Falgoon-night
When the five-night-old moon went down—
he was longing for death.
His wife lay beside—the child therewith;
hope and love abundant__in the moonlight—what ghost
did he see? Why his sleep broke?
Or having no sleep at all since long—he now has fallen asleep
in the post-mortem cell.
Is this the sleep he’d longed for!
Like a plagued rat, mouth filled with crimson froth
now asleep in the nook of darkness;
And will not ever awake anymore.
‘Never again will wake up,
never again will bear
the endless—endless burden
of painful waking—’
It was told to him
when the moon sank down—in the strange darkness
by a silence like the neck of a camel that might have shown up
at his window side.
Nevertheless, the owl stays wide awake;
The rotten still frog begs two more moments
in the hope for another dawn in conceivable warmth.
We feel in the deep tracelessness of flocking darkness
The unforgiving enmity of the mosquito-net all around;
The mosquito loves the stream of life
awake in its monastery of darkness.
From sitting in blood and filth, flies fly back into the sun;
How often we watched moths and flies hovering
in the waves of golden sun.
The close-knit sky, as if—as it were, some scattered
lives, possessed their hearts;
The wavering dragonflies in the grasp of wanton kids
Fought for life;
As the moon went down, in the impending gloom
With a noose in hand you approached the aswattha,
alone, by yourself,
For you’d learnt
a human would ne’er live the life of a locust or a robin
The branch of aswattha
Had it not raged in protest? And the flock of fireflies
Hadn’t they come and mingled with
the comely bunch of daffodils?
Hadn’t the senile blind owl come over
and said: ‘the age-old moon seems to have been washed away
by the surging waters?
Let’s catch now rats and mouse! ’
Hadn’t the owl hooted out this cherished affair?
Taste of life—the fragrance of golden corn of winter evening—
seemed intolerable to you; —
Content now in the morgue
In the morgue—sultry
with the bloodied mouth of a battered rat!
yet, tale of this dead; —
Was not refused by the girl of love,
Didn’t miss any joy of conjugal life,
the bride went ahead of time
and let him know
honey and the honey of reflection;
His life ne’er shivered in demeaning hunger
or painful cold;
now in the morgue
he lies flat on the dissection table.
woman’s heart—love—offspring—home—not all
there is to things;
Wealth, achievement, affluence apart
there is some other baffling surprise
that whirls in our veins;
It tires and tires,
and tires us out;
but there is no tiring
in the post mortem cell
there he rests, in the post mortem cell
flat on the dissection table.
Still I see the age-old owl, ah,
Nightly sat on the aswattha bough
Winks and echoes: ‘The olden moon seems
to be carried away by the flooding waters?
Let’s catch now rats and mouse—’
Hi, granny dear, splendid even today?
Let me age like you—and see off
the olden moon in the whirlpool at the Kalidaha;
Then the two of us will desert life’s abundant reserve.
Translated by Faizul Latif Chowdhury