(12 February 1919 - 8 July 2003 / Krishnanagar, Nadia / India)

The Stride

Standing on one leg, arms reaching up
hair piled high in unkempt yogi knots
a tree peers down
and the more he sees the more he is amazed.

The woman who goes door to door
baby on her hip
washing dishes
and at night
sleeps on a mat under a tree
the woman discarded by her husband
disdained even by death.

Oh how shameful!
She’s pregnant again.

At the water tap
to cover up that shame
he toddles up carefully
to hand his mother the tattered sari
a tiny life crowned by shame
why, just the other day
he used to crawl on the pavement!

Which means
On this earth
one more pair of eyes
one more head held high
arms like the wings of a bird
swinging on either side
will stride through
feet firmly on the ground
Standing on one leg
forever in the same spot
the tree
with arms outstretched and hair in
yogi knots
peers down
and the more he sees the more he is amazed

[Translated by Antara Dev Sen]

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