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Date of Publish: 2018-12-29

A few poems of Jiban Narah

 

GUEST

For coming to our home at the time of this Bihu I shall not give you my address

come looking for me to the village "Alupora"

 

Ask anyone carrying a pitcher my whereabouts

you can also ask those naked boys playing on the banks of the river, my address

if the young belles burst out into a rippling laughter

you will know that this is my village

 

Or you can do one thing

after crossing the 'Gela beel' * the first house you come across ask about me there

if a woman from the house answers you in a cracked voice

Beware! Come back!

For that can either be 'Charaipung' or 'Lakhipathar'

but if a man answers from within and opens the door

you can rest assured that

you have reached my home and give a whoop of joy.

 

They will first offer you a bowl of 'Apong'

some baked 'goroi macch' on a plantain leaf and a piece of yam

with some salt and green chillies. That is the way they welcome their guest.

 

After the first bowl is over, they will give you a second,

a third

and a fourth

 

Do not refuse for they may feel hurt. Do not get drunk on Apong, they

will feel hurt. Once they dislike you they will never call you again

I shall not give you my address, if you come, come on the day of '' Uruka'

beware do not refuse to dance, if the young lads and girls want you to dance

never say you do not know how to dance, for they will be hurt

do not desire to return on that 'Karpongpuli' night lest they feel hurt

Do not stretch out your hand to the bosom in an inebriated state, for they will feel hurt

and will inform the headman of your misdemeanour

 

Think twice before you decide to come

for I will not give you my address.

 

*a small rivulet in Golaghat District of Assam

*these two forests were once famous for the camps of ULFA a terrorist outfit of Assam

*a kind of sweet beer made by the Mising tribe of Assam

*a muddy water fish found in Asam

*clear sky on a full moon night

Translated by Lyra Neog

 

Farewell

On the day our sister left our home

she left an unbearable emptiness there

For she loved to sing alone

A room of her own was built

 

The sad resonance of her singing

scattered in the room

hurts us now and then

 

With the boy she loved

she left us forever. That is the custom

But not very easy to accept

 

Because she loved the "simalu"* blossom

She never told a lie

 

And the day she sailed downstream

she never told a lie

 

And the day she sailed downstream

her sorrow began growing.

*a kind of tall tree with red flowers bearing cotton

Translated by Lyra Neog

 

Balaram's illness this monsoon

 

Burnt in the old days

I met you Balaram this monsoon.

Aah! Your father's face in the bluish stream floating

Balaram! Balaram! My chest is burning......

 

Balaram's aunt who stays far away has come for a visit

sailing some distance and then walking by road

 

His aunt has brought him a ripe jackfruit

and a bunch of berries, carrying it on her head

he desires to eat the ripe jackfruit and the bitter berries

 

This monsoon Balaram has been sick

for a long time

hearing the news, his aunt has rushed to see him

 

In shivering fever he sees a dream at night.....

the trees are rushing up on a slanting hill

 

The moon hanging from the roof falls to the courtyard with a bang

He is drowned in the wailing cry of his mother just before her death

 

He quivers on the bed.

his mother stroking his head gently and starts crying

hearing her cry he wakes up suddenly

and drinks water from the mud pitcher.

He screams. His aunt hugs him and says :

Your father also drowned in a monsoon like this

bringing this to your mind do not harm yourself

 

Balaram put your head on my lap

the dawn will break soon

I can hear the chirping of the birds far away

When your fever lessens, we will break the jackfruit

and you can eat it to the full.

 

Translated by Lyra Neog

 

Thrown away interpretation (to Rimbaud)

 

I am starting the poem as the thoughts come with ease

as a poem always follows a habitual norm

 

What I had thought of a while ago

must have been thought by someone long ago

however his way of thinking may not be slanting like mine

 

Now whatever is going on criss-crossing my mind

what I am witnessing in front of my eyes

There the speaker and the viewer

there is nothing new

but the narrator and the observer

 

The narrator is the past

The narrator is the present

The narrator sets out the future

 

One can think so easily with the pace of one's age

but when one speaks in poems

it is not so easy

for this reason the narrator

speaks words, sometimes

meaningless, zero.

 

A poem is like a soft green grass

dancing in the breeze either slow or fast paced

a living sprout

 

Poets are born for the poems

they are not thrown away interpreters

that is the triumph of the poets

that is their triumph.

 

Translated by Lyra Neog

 

A Fairy Tale

An old Malayalee poet warned me

to be wary of the glances of girls

and giving me a book of obscure poems

he said, "Write poems and go to hell."

 

In the wind

the fluttering of the coconut leaves

or is it the rhythm of the flitting steps of Kathakali

 

Across my eyes come and go

fluid shadows of dance

The long rays of the sun on the sea flush away the tri-coloured streams drawn across my forehead

 

The rows and rows of coconut trees by the shore trail into the sea water flying thousands of many coloured kites above the roof of leaves

 

They, tall and short,

holding each others hands

start singing in a forceful voice raising their sun-stained shoulders

 

Then there have appeared

a bevy of damsels

hair soaked in oil

A floccus has kissed me

between the fingers

I have kept my eyes shut for a while

From the oils of K. C. Panicker comes a storm of colour

 

My whole body is imbued with hundreds of tiny dots of colour

I am slowly melting and melting into the colours

And the girl gazing intensely at me has also come down into the midst of the storm

 

Two drops of cream-coloured liquid from the rubber tree

have fallen on us while sleeping on the bed made of leaves of banana and

coconut trees

 

And we have turned

into floating clouds

While floating from cloud to cloud

Mohanlal, Mamooty and Archana in Malayalam films

Have waved to us to join them in dancing

 

Through the star studded sky

I am dancing

dancing into the deep sea

O my ship of dreams

flouncing against a rock of clouds has broken into flinders

 

I am slowly drowning into the bottom of the sea

The heroine is drifting away from me

 

She is shouting to me

in a shrill voice

O come to me

Come back to me

 

Failing to come back

I am drowning

into the salt, into the sea-bottom

 

Like the bogies broken away from the train

The strands of my remembrance

I am coming back home

dreaming a leisurely dream

on a train running thirteen hours late

 

Dreams come to us too late

and like the moving of the train

We are advancing into hell

Into its green-room.

Translated by Lyra Neog

About the Poet

Poet Jiban Narah is a noted name in Assamese literature. He was born in 1970 in Morongial village of Golaghat district. His poetry books include Tumi Poka Dhanor Dore Gondhaisa, Dhou Khela Loralir Sa, Tari Ri-Ri, Momaideur Phuloni. He has two books of Assamese translation of Mising folk poems – O Mor Dhunia Kopouphul and Suna Mor Phulkoli. Narah has also penned a novel Oikoli and has a collection of short stories Bhumir Phul. He teaches Assamese in Anandaram Dhekial Phookan College in Nagaon.

 

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