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Date of Publish: 2018-09-07

A Few Poems of Rajib Borah


Impotent Words


For a couple of live stanzas

Where there is no bed for seedlings

I’ve sown there the grass of prose

In the world of hunger

The season crop is more in demand than poetry


A courage that defies death

Sprouts for the sake of life

The boy forced to leave his home

In search of a job loses his address

He may be none of our siblings but...


The rivers Luit, Khablu, Jiadhal

Know the sand kids use for making

Moons with cups made from coconut shells.

That sand fries the hearts of elders like popped rice

Here is no drinking water amid waters


He being an adolescent kept a flute in her heart

And went away in quest of water

In the desert front


She has not washed her shame

Since she was lost the riverine tune

Her eyes rove around when she goes out

Has a new shirt on a bicycle passed by the bend


Denying himself a homecoming even in Bohag

Only to save bucks for his wedding

The youth in silk cotton bloom

Come back in a coffin laid with ice


In the courtyard under the Ajar tree

The village stands downcast

The voice of poem stashed in the heart

Kept wailing for some hard prose

Impotent to make sense.


Translation: Nirendra Nath Thakuria


The Shadow of the City


I am dying for

A patch of sunshine

A waft of oxygen

Running after the sun and the wind

The long shadows of the street lights


O my dying Earth

I too have a little bit of claim

I have not come

You have born me brought me up

If you refuse to give I’ll keep silent

I know you are losing


The nails of high-rises are stained with

The blood of the raw hill

The de numbed hide is peeled off

With the frenetic drumbeats


The sky turns red blue crimson

The din of A.C.

The fainted breath under the hizal tree

The dry lips of asthmatic breath

.The smell of perfume drinks roasted meet


Fed up with bitter experiences of morning walks

I vomit up every day the happiness of the city


Sunshine and I keep looking

For each other

Junctions crossroads alleys lanes pavements bends

Tiny parks in the roundabouts


Somewhere a glimpse of the metallic hand

Grasping at the dumb throat of sunshine


Shooing away the pack of mongrels

Limps away the diabetic patient

With high pressure


A whiff of sunshine a puff of wind

No money to by


Translation: Nirendra Nath Thakuria




The dead snake was fastened to a post

In the middle of the stream

In hope that

The snake would come back to life

And the current made the dead snake dance.


The quack also danced

To a different tune

Dreaming of draining out

Poison from the dead body


The poison carried by blood stream

Into the heart of my father

Pressed life out of him.


A song turned blue in pain

Tossed and groaned in the front yard.

Filtering the air of superstation

We run up from one village to another

In search of doctors who could heal.

And mantra was chanted

Still in the front yard.


A thousand eyes were fixed on the dead

In hope that he would rise

A fishing bird

Drowned by the weaves

Of the blue ocean.


He could not remain immortal

My father passed away

Putting on my adolescent shoulder

The burden of a sky.


Translation: Dr. Ananda Barmudoi




Of all the delicacies of the hospitable host we cherished

One member, the teenager sensed us his absence by his presence

He sat with us, of course, in the drowning room

While we bade adieu he was still captivated

Tapping the smart phone, asserting his non-presence.


The enthralling screen, the expanse of the net—

Its knots catch him, hanging him like a small fish

Numerous fishes like him caught him in the net

And hung in the air, sharing crazy remaks—likes-dislikes,

Turn the real unreal and unreal real.


They travelled in the unreal, knitting knots of nets

On which they hang, thread onto the lanes and slums alike,

Onto caves and tunnels and

All the restricted realms of life.


They shake of kins and bloods,

People shaking hands with him, hugging, caressing him,

Seem some unrecognized data to be sent to Recycle Bin.

Easy existence of people around him, their tears and smiles are

Foreign to the software fitted in him.

Where does lie the sanguine youth?

Truth to them is as documented by the net-pals.


But the nest-not the net is the safe shelter—

Not knowing this, the bird repeats the same mistake

May there be seven oceans full of water!

But there’s not a drop to drink-is known only

By the heart salted with pains.

Translation: Ramanandan Borah



The birds remained in the city

Through the trees departed

Thinking of the birds making nests on the roof

Some trees came to the city


Leaving behind the huts of the folks

Who deserted their hearth and home

The birds took to making their nest in city trees


Two hands with a dry heart

Planted trees as an advertisement

Only a palmful of water poured one day

The trees dried up

The load of the advertisement proved

Heavier then the Buddha’s preaching


Cleaving the city roads, digging the concrete courtyard

Through the tunnel in the ruined forest

The train is run

The whistle blew and died down

In the underground itself

The dwellers above heard nothing of it


Some trees planted for shade yielded fruit

The trees planted for fruit proved barren


Forest trees become posts of the four-post


The hooks to fetch dreams


And one day the city went out

To call on the village


Crying the parched field cursed

The hill that blocked the clouds

Baring the barren womb

The rock-yielding hill said


Soil without trees is just soil

If rain and flood keep washing

How long will it take to erode


Translation: Nirendra Nath Thakuria




Childhood bewails, scourged in the incessant cascading ebb of tradition. An exasperating journey from mothers lap to the land. Pangs of life...consolation of fulfillment of life...I have seen the faces glimmering in the light emanating from that pillar that rises above the ordinary debate of meaning and meaninglessness. And I saw the painful faces of cow herding peers on the river bank in the morning. I saw the childhood hiding in the bushes of river bank, dragged by them to metamorphose them to monk. Bird that once was free, gnawed and screamed after tied to that rigid cycle of discipline. One day he fled away…then again the same cycle...one day I saw him as my classmate...clad in the attire of self diminution he was a complete stranger. His ways were resolved with firm vows.....How he stood firm while we all surrendered to the wind of youth like a plantain fore leaf of a tree...how indifferent is this world for those who are attuned to that cycle of discipline and customs after fighting the tide of the rock moss ocean of conflicts !!!


From afar is visible the lions
Faced each other, curved alive by unknown sculptor
Nails of rock pierced my awe stuck heart
Never I dared to ask that question
With panic-stricken voice
Why is the gate adorned with elephants instead of flowers.
The lord says-chanting of lord Krishnas name is Simha....

After I frittered without the warmth of love,

and accursed by the scourging heat of poverty
I had to embrace the devutter land ...

Fathers earning was too meager

to raise the family with seven children

Mother sisters and brothers
Transient are the power and pelf....
Thus grow the aides tender hand harder
Following the strange riddles fingers accustomed to the

graceful movement like a danceuse
That once wiped away mucus of nose...

Crawling and rolling on the rock and

silts like a handful of water straming through the tradition
Life destined for an eternal journey

Where is the sea
Where is the vow of that greater life sublime
For how many days cries the water hen in my heart
In my dream I saw the stripped horse obstructed the passage
Heard of emptying the earthen pot and then filling up it again*

Curse and accursed
Blessed...blessed with that surrender to lord Krishna and

dismissal of transient life of pleasure

Rock-moss ocean of self diminution
Invincible pillar of Brahma at the distant horizon
Mysterious tune flows from the flute


I saw him that day
He dimissed the burden of his celibacy and

he tilted and harrowed his life with an epicurean thirst
Now he is a complete house holder thriving delicately

How are you ?
:Again the same voice of complaints, dissatisfaction
Which is so concealed and private
A bewailing pangs of unfulfiment writ large on his eyes


*filling up earthen pot signifies being pregnant

Empting earthen pot signifies abortion.

Translateion : Bhaskar Jyoti Nath

About the poet:

Rajib Borah (1970) is an Associate Professor of Assamese Literature, Nazira College, in upper Assam. He has three collection of poems including Tatini Tirar Khela (2005), Dhou (2006), Panibhaona(2013) and Andharotu Phute Phoring (2017). He is a regular contributor to leading Assamese magazines like Prakash, Gariyashi, Prantik, Satsari. As a poet he dwells on rural life of Assam in macrocosm and the delicate and intricate feeling of an individual in microcosm. His poems are marked by skillful picturisation of the village life in its multiple spheres: its rich and colourful tradition and the challenge posed before it by modernisation, it’s natural beauty and the havoc caused by it, clash between the individual and the society and present day political scenario. His language is characterized by frequent use of colloquial words, phrase and idioms. He draws metaphors and similes from the local culture and history in such a way that it becomes imperative for the reader to have information about those references along with their reading. His other works include Vishwa Sahityar Porichoy, Asomiya Natya Parikroma Aru Sarikhon Asomiya Natak, Asomiya Kabita Aru Kotha Sahityar Avas, Chinta Porikroma, Sondhikhonor Asomiya Kabita - an anthology of Assamese poetry and Sat Samudrat Sankha Bajisene Nai, ed.






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