Things Recalled at Night

Joy Goswami

Translated from Bengali by Prasenjit Gupta

All that rainfall
Laid out in the rainfall, all those dead bodies
Beating at the dead bodies, all that wind
Trembling with the wind but not billowing out, all those
                                                      encompassing shrouds
Thrusting their muzzles in, tugging at the cloth, all those night-time dogs
Shouting, driving the dogs away, all those attendants
Half-naked, squatting attendants
Laid down beside the attendants, all those wooden staves
Those clay pipes not burning, in the rain
Those not-burning pyres
Spaced apart, all those not-burning pyres

Behind the pyres, the ragged river-bank
And on all those ragged edges, risen from the water,
All their mothers sit
Their heads covered with uncolored cloth
Risen up from the water after long years, climbed down from the rain,
All their mothers sit like small white bundles
So that at burning time
They can be close to their sons--
At burning time when the dead will remember
                                           a wife left behind
An only daughter who ran away with her lover
Unresolved property and a friendís treachery
The dead man will remember the first day at school and
Unseen for so long,
                      unresisted, the cause of his own death
When he tries, flustered, to sit up on the pyre
                                           one last time
And the attendantís stave strikes hard,
                                            breaking him, laying him out--
Then she can touch that fire-burnt skull
With her age-old kitchen-weary pot-scrubbing shriveled hand
And, spreading the end of her sari over those molten eyes,
                                                                    the widow can say
Donít fret, baba, my son, here I am, here, Iím your mother,
                                                        here, right at your side!

Published February 1, 2003

The original poem [raatre kI kI mane pa.Dechhilo* by Joy Goswami*] appeared in the collection of poems paataar poshhaak*, first published in 1997.

Translated by Prasenjit Gupta [Proshenjit Gupto ]. Prasenjit Gupta is a translator and writer living in Iowa City. (more)

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* To learn more about the ITRANS script for Bengali, click here.