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Date of Publish: 2016-06-25

An anthology of Assam's Bards born after 1975

 

 

The hijol* tree’s shade

Kushal Dutta

Her fault was she had been to the river to look at herself

The god of the river took her down to the water and that’s that

 

The one who jumped in to bring her from the water

Had a boat of ejar* wood and his calves too were ejar-hued

 

Leaving boat and oar meandering under water

 The light house of truth glimmered in the distance easy as a straight line

 

Exhausted swimming as they got out of water on to land

Under the shade of the hijol by the river they looked at their eyes

 

The colour of breath under water was green on land it’s like land

The shade of the hijol hides all unwritten annals of the earth

 

 

* The Indian oak, Barringtonia acutangula. * A species of timber tree, Lagerstroemia reginae.

(Translation from Assamese - Prof. Pradip Acharya )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A poem of nothingness

Kushal Dutta

You are restless and fidgety

looking for the definition of nothingness

 

Please listen —

taking a piece of paper

draw a zero

then looking at it

 start seeking your required definition

 

Have you got it

 

In a blank paper drawing a line

you created a picture which is like

 the full moon in your mirror

how can it be a zero like the dark moon

 

The picture of the mist is repeatedly lost in nothingness; it again becomes illuminated in lines of light in its fullness

 

You saw nothingness long ago with your third eye;

you knew and understood and remembered

 again and again that nothingness

 

In the endless splendour of nothingness you

 unknowingly had embraced nothingness one day

 

Unknown to me a zero is hanging from a zero

my shadowless shadow is imprisoned in that zero

 [ Translation from Assamese - Prof. Prodip Khataniar ]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maya

Kushal Dutta

Like one needs a starting to end one needs a question for an answer too But being the starting being the question Maya is always an answerless arithmetic for me And suddenly Sankara manifests himself in front of me as the thought strikes my mind Is there anything called reality? Or everything is illusive like Maya?

 

When I return home from office When Maya moves away from beside me to go somewhere Sankara manifests suddenly in front of me with the eternal question – Whom I know how much I know in how many ways I know Whom I don’t know how much I don’t know in how many ways I don’t know

 

I too, explain Sankara like a teacher explains to a kid That rather than always suspecting Maya Why don’t you try asking her father once! (Whoever we know as her father – him!)

 

This time Sankara’s face lit up a bit Moving the calm eyes lifting the face looking at me he called – Actually as much as I think I know you How much do I not know that I know?

 

(Whom? Myself? Maya? Or Maya’s father?)

 

Finding an answer like two plus two equal to five in the dilemma of understanding and not This time I put forward my step hand in hand with Sankara patting him on the back.

 (Translation from Assamese -  Bibekananda Choudhury )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring in Delhi (Sonnet)

Samudra Kajal Saikia

"Na kisi ki aankh ka noor hoon, na kisi ke dil ka karaar hoon

Jo kisi ke kaam na aa sake, main woh moostey gubaar hoon..."

- Bahadur Shah Zafar

 

With a conspiracy of putting fire to the sky with no fear of consequence, 

the Gulmohar trees are blooming at the every square.

And (as the price of gold is falling), Amaltas’s everywhere- 

Having an auction of golden beads, brightening the sky’s extreme range.

 

Like the smart girls going for tuition, who speak English very frequent,

dazzling the Bougainvillea. The fragrant prayer

of the evening, from the Madhumalati I do hear.

One or two of the Karabi flowers drop in void. A silent condolence.

 

Up to the limit of my sights the spring has established its free-of-cost  bazaar.

It’s a blooming Delhi. Even lying on its anesthesia-bed Yamuna seeks no pardon. 

Roaming across the city Kankhowa comes to his Balcony, when work is over.

Not a single flower is there; nor a tender leaf. All hopes are lying prone. 

Just a fist-full of dried soil out there in the tubs. ‘Moostey Gubaar’.

You didn’t take care on time, Kankhowa,  now no help in crying alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pain in My Ribs 

Samudra Kajal Saikia

I caught an accident a few days ago, there is pain in my ribs now.
Can't take a turn on bed.
Consoling matter is that- no spring bird is singing in the nights 
from the tree of monkey jack fruit in my father's garden. 

No Oinitom is being echoed at distance... 

What a strange relation it was, between your fingers and my ribs. 
Your Fingers used to grow like the fern on the Naga-hillside, 
- used to wave with the breeze. 

I wonder if the vultures would chew up my ribs
or just plucking the flesh they'd leave them on the ground. 
Would you ever come to Falfali Bakori by any chance?
The wish was, you would caress my ribs with your beautiful fingers...

Looking for my ribs would you join the Bedouins some day? 

Within the cage of my ribs there is another sun. 
That sun, too, is stuck in his cyclical task of rising and setting, without fail. 

May be another disposable sun, but, recycled... 

A pain grows in my ribs. I nurture it like an expecting mother.
Till the date the pain is there in my ribs, it will keep reminding me of your fingers. 

The fingers I had chopped off long ago just like the fern on the hillside... 

 

*Oinitom: traditional lyrical poetry from the Mishing tribe in Assam.
*Fern from Hillside, has a reminiscence from Assamese oral literature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sky is Always Something More than a Little Cloud  

Pranjit Bora

 

Even when everything is finished

The craving for survival does not end 

See, even on the handkerchiefs of sorrows

People embroider flowers of the happy days 

On one hand the precipice of sorrows erodes moment by moment

On the other, the green field moistens

On one hand Autumn wipes out with dust the end of the road

On the other, there drop on that dust the dancing horse raddish flowers 

Indeed, even when all fall asleep

Somewhere there awake man and man’s poetry

Therefore, poetry is always something more than a little silence

The sky is always something more than a little cloud.  

Translation from Assamese - Dr. Birinchi Kr Das

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through the Gaps of All Your Fingers 

Pranjit Bora

 

Through the gaps of all your fingers The evening moon of full autumn  

Your hand is the branch of a mature tree The movements of your hands, as innocent as the white moonlight lead me Towards the overlying meadows  

Through the endless paddy field with recently sprouted rice-seeds I keep running on 

Wherever I find that the other hands are Coming up out of the still water of the silent pond To touch the shadow of your hand  I take a break 

How utterly tragic the light of your hand becomes

Translated  from Assamese  by Dr. Sultan Ali Ahmed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desolation

Nibedita Phukan

Something was chasing me about
Something that had no shape
No name
Like a firm feeling it coursed through the veins

No one was witness to the moments of the chase
With me there was only my way-brother
In evenings spiked with acuity, loaded with tranquillity
Filled with barrenness
Its load was past bearing
An insufferableness bereft of form
An insufferableness without a name

Lines grew more numerous on my furrowed brow
Anti-ageing lotions were on the last legs of efficacy
To rid me perhaps of that insufferableness
Came time and words
And the formless insufferableness assumed a form
Anonymity took the guise of pain

A desolate yet bearable feeling
Time is whose eternal sibling

 


An Ancient Tale

Nibedita Phukan

 

All travelers search for the road’s end
All roads look out for the road-loving man
The roads the travelers seek are arduous and harrowing
Therein begins the tale of man’s descent

Clasping a home to the bosom
In light in darkness an ancient people
The escorts were from another world
They gave a false meaning of faith
They hid
The bit about faith’s faith in spontaneous expression

It’s but faith that keeps life and the road stable
That’s why the trees remain evergreen
Forests turn thicker and ever thicker
Men come to belong to one another
Life is renewed and flows on
The forest becomes man, and man forest

The ancient men sought out on their own
The forests of this world

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Bapa, the stone blind

Bijoy Sankar Barman

Bapa my neighbour forty-two years old

stone blind

yet he doesn’t lose his way

I’m twenty-six sighted

I can see

For the last twenty-six years

I’ve seen Bapa

I’ve known Bapa

But I hardly know

the corners of Bapa’s world

42 – 26 = 16

Those sixteen years

Had Bapa’s world remained all the same

I can’t simply guess

Bats are nocturnal almost blind by day

keep hanging upside down

flap around only at night

Opposite is the case with diurnal creatures

People also can’t see at night

Yet

the number of nocturnal people has gone up

What is more convenient for Bapa Day or night

Day or night

Does it make any difference for Bapa

I find it ticklish

I’ve been timid since childhood

afraid at night

Hiding my face under the quilt I thought

Bapa is better off

He does not see spooks

baank dot kandha at night

Where is the fear

if he doesn’t see them at all

One evening of the new moon

it was Bapa

who was coming back along the village lane

with a kerosene lamp in hand

Hello Bapa

What with a lamp

(Maybe you can see in the lamplight)

Oh it is not for me

in this darkness

but for you people

And one late afternoon

of the last month

Bapa returned as usual

that day also from the market

with a bottle of blue kerosene

forty rupees a litre on the black market

clasping the greased catch

around the bottleneck

He was feeling his way

Hello Bapa Coming back

Where are you coming from

this evening

Eh What to say

So much bother last night

What what happened

last night

Oh no

No power supply

No kerosene

Had to sit up throughout the night

in darkness

couldn’t get a good sleep

Translation from Assamese – Nirendra nath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pigs do not look at the sky

Bijoy Sankar Barman

 

We the dolphin-loving people

do not think of pigs

The pigs in their entire life

do not look at the sky

even once

That too we do not know

 

Going upstreams

from the Guinjan river ghat

you’ll find

the Dolphin Point

of Dibru-Saikhowa

 

Light plays over the river water

or over the pond of our heart

In the dazzling light

closing our eyes

we see dolphins

under water

 

We keep waiting

With the rhythmic clapping

unseen dolphins

jump archly

 

Along the railway tracks

in Guwahati are seen

polythene shanties

coal courtyards

tarred bodies

 

Water is polluted

Air is polluted

Soil is polluted

The void is polluted

(Only unpolluted is FIRE)

 

We the dolphin-loving people

do not like to see the pigs

 

Yet

the people who fancy

they are dolphins

the people who jump archly

and come down

say clapping their hands

Yes yes

We live in Guwahati

Translation from Assamese – Nirendra Nath Thakuria   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue bird, my tea garden

Kamal Kumar Tanti

There was no one else.

None.

Unblemished a body like a lonely traveller. Potent limejuice and

The wind among the leaves. The sound of terror

Of a herd of wild elephants. A sleeping jackal dreaming in his hole.

 

There was no one else.

None.

The barking of a black dog. Bare stump of a pine tree.

People’s faces. Torn leaves of the gulmohar.

Cow piss on the yellowed grass.

There was no one else.

None.

On the hollow of the banyan tree a squirrel. Soil

Soaked in rain. A dark woman and the burden of firewood.

The green horizon and half a sky.

There was no one else.

None.

A fork filled with mud and grass. A herd following

The cowherd’s tune. Mango trees and mongoose’s nest.

A lonely toddler. A group of dark men.

There was no one else.

None.

Only the tea garden. My

Garden. Blue bird

Of mine.

Translation from Assamese  – Dibyajyoti Sarma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A poem against you all: We are happy

Kamal Kumar Tanti

You live on the other end of the world

Hence, you are happy

Devoid of intelligence, we live in our lanes

Like strays

You do not hear the rising voices of our souls

Yet, we hear your ramblings

Listen to your glib talks, your oily voices

Like purring of cats

You pollute our blood with

Dark poison and vermillion

With the craft and cunning of scholarship

You stop our blood from turning red

Translation from Assamese  – Dibyajyoti Sarma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death anniversary of a witch

Kamal Kumar Tanti

(Dedicated to the countless women killed on the suspicion of being witches)

Breaking the earth sprouts

That burning body

In the air, hangs a screech

Slowly, it fades into thousand screams

 

A flickering blue fire

Floats in the air

 

Draws fresh wounds in the

Hearts of men

The trees of the night recognise the darkness

The people of the night find

The terrified face of the woman

Without magic, without malice

When will death come

When  will death come

Death comes when a poisoned

Arrow pierces the jackfruit leaf

Days become

Past

The weeping of the relatives float in the forest

Unknowable, in the fields unharnessed

In the sand islets on the river

In the tiny hutments ablaze in fire

Breaking the earth sprouts

That burning body

In the air hangs a screech

From faraway

I am telling you

Today is the witch’s death anniversary

Translation from Assamese  - Dibyajyoti Sarma

 

 

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