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Date of Publish: 2018-02-13

A few poems of Bijoy Sankar Barman

Kite

With a tenuous thread

you’ve tied me

to the temple bell

on the lonely hill

And you

are flying above

 

The bell is swaying

in the wind blowing from the west.

Like the first shower of summer

I have fallen

on the heart of grass

 

Where are you

 

Behind the bare trees

on the hill top

the sun goes down

grazing his heart on she-oaks

 

The night is waiting

 

You too have lost your way

flying away

Or fallen

on the bamboo patch

 

unnoticed

 

Fear

Breaking the nest

of the potter wasp

on the wall of the stilted hut

you said

It’s no use

After being smashed the nest will rise again

as the cracked field

gets sun-burnt after the paddy is over

 

The blazing fire

melted in darkness

through the conch bangle you’ve seen

a man going

along the dark tunnel

and in the palm of the scraggy hand

your dark face

 

Dew drops fall from the devil tree

On the hilltop is burning a lamp

Is the lamp

moving towards me

or am I

going towards it

 

One day I felt like this

while trying to get at

a vermillion-hued mango with a crook

in the haunted wood by the backyard

 

Riverine

 

Kanaikhunda

the rivulet of my heart

quietens down

 

On a rotten piece of wood

drifting down from somewhere

perches a yellow bird

sad and lonely

 

On its wings

the noon weaves a net

 

A shoal of colourful fish

haul in from the bottom

of waters

 

dead faces

forgotten smiles

 

Streaming tears of Ketetong

 

Bulging clouds are hanging

 

Amid the silvery clouds

sitting somewhere

you shed tears

 

And the Dehing flows on

 

In the burnt-out coals

on the black hillock of Ledo and

in the darkness in a half-burnt shoe

 

or

in the brown cocoon of a butterfly

on a dry twig of a siris tree

Death laid eggs

 

The streaming tears of Ketetong

that scour me

 

Oozing out of the waterspout

of the Patkai hills

was the water

that filled the sacred ponds of Angfew

 

And there

a yellow butterfly

was peering at its image.

 

Ketetong : a village near by Margherita, a township in Assam

Angfew : Angfew Ningkhee, a rare personality who died from cancer in 2008

 

Ashokastami

 

The pinda offered with sand Mother

Sita Shanti

No water

But let a river of sand keep flowing

the cursed undercurrent of the Ganga

 

Let the sobs of sand flow

Let tears flow

 

At Ashwaklanta

the votive immersion of the ashes

The pieces of the burnt out bone

were maya

washed back by waves

to the water edge

 

The clay pitcher

with the red cloth

was the robes of maya

the house of maya

 

Maya was not ashes

Maya was

the remains of burning

 

The lump of pinda

shed thrice from the palm

with the right thumb

 

Let all ants come to life

Let them eat up

the share of the departed

 

We too are ants

the house of five winds

Pan Apan Saman Udan Byan

 

We live on the pinda

of our forefathers

 

First Excavation of Rangringkan

 

Reduced to debris

in a landslide

our hilly hamlet

 

 

Our uproar and cries

won’t reverberate

again

The graves of our forefathers

have touched down the underworld

 

In search of what

the wild grasshoppers

hop around and sniff

the stones

 

From the darkness

of the huge pits

of the swamp

frogs croak even today

As if the cracking whips

make black and blue

the living memories

of our crumbling days

 

Second Excavation of Rangringkan

 

In the foothills

of the echoing hill

the days

of the dark people

crushing down

through the crevices of rocks

were black

 

Their heads

shaded by death

their beads of sweat

rolling down

under their yellow hats

turned black

in darkness

 

 

On the day

of the echoing hill

tumbling down

on the day

of those ancient monasteries

and graves

tumbling down

 

the bell metal gong

fell silent

And the prayers

shed tears

 

Those teardrops too

were black

 

To Ganesh Gohain

(a) Thought Architect

 

The palace of my thoughts

is multi-storeyed

concrete covering the land

 

Standing on the cool marble

of the concrete floor

one can’t see the spire of a minar

glorifying the sky

 

Breaking through the maze

of an ancient tree

as the rays of sunlight

tread on earth

the optical illusion

couches on the smooth stones

of the dark palace

 

The geometry of perception

cannot match up to

the knack for a flight of steps

of the thought architect

(b)

Release from colours

 

Votary of colours

what an artist

you are

 

 

The colours

you’ve splashed

and poured out

in the void

 

 

With turpentine

you’ve cleaned

the pallete

and washed it too

 

 

To the world of sight

you’ve returned

the colours of hers

 

 

Let the colours play

among themselves

 

 

Dazzler of colours

which world

do you belong to

 

 

In the studio of Niravana

with your two eyes

how have you managed to shape

the philosophy

of yours

 

About the poet -

Assamese poet and translator, Bijoy Sankar Barman (b.1980) has ten published books on different genres to his credit. Recipient of the prestigious Munin Barkataki Award in 2007 for his debut collection of poems Deo, Bijoy Sankar received the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar in 2013 for his second collection of poems Ashokastami. He was recognized as one of the ten ‘Best Young Writers’ of India by Indian Express in 2012. Besides publishing three critically acclaimed collections of poems Deo (2006), Ashokastami (2011) and Barnamukti (2015), his other published books include Pisarateoja, Ketetong (2016), the first-ever anthology of poetry of an Assamese litterateur published from Europe (in Estonian language), Kurundoheir Kabita (2014), the maiden Assamese translation of the ancient Tamil classic Kuruntokai. Apart from English and all regional languages included in the Eight Schedule of the Indian Constitution, his poems have been translated into Italian, French, Estonian etc. A post-graduate in English Literature and Sociology, Bijoy Sankar has submitted his Doctoral dissertation recently on gender perspectives in the tribal mythology of Assam. He studied in Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore, University of Tartu, Estonia as visiting Doctoral Student.

 

About the translator:

Nirendra Nath Thakuria (b. 1960- ) translates Assamese literature into English and his translations have appeared in Kavya Bharati, Chandrabhaga, Indian Literature, Yaatra, The Oxford Anthology Writings from North-East India, Poetry and Essays, and Dancing Earth: An Anthology of Poetry from North-East India (Penguin Books). Mr. Thakuria worked as Associate Editor of Yaatra and as Literary Editor of Assam: Land and People. He edited Democracy of Umbrella, a collection of English translations of Anubhav Tulasi’s Assamese poems. Mr. Thakuria is an Associate Professor of English at Pragjyotish College. He can be reached at 98640 90267 or nirendranaththakuria@gmail.com, nirenthakuria@rediffmail.com

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