Rain-drenched winds in my sleep

Joy Goswami

Translated from Bangla by Nandini Gupta

["In my youth, one day, love came to me"
 Rabindranath, Arogya No. 13]


When did light string me to sleep’s dark branches,
                                                                       O Tamal,
When did peacocks enter
                          night's township
                       go from door to door peddling songs!
You carefree soul,
         Let the wayfarer give alms today let her give
all your best wishes to lovers
Gladly let her give to paupers like you---
         Only a fistful of grass only a handful
                   of desolate sand may she offer to the river, enough,
You the destitute
          Do not linger any longer thinking
Aid is on the way aid will be here      wait no more
Waste no more time
          Someone has sent out a call to every village, every hamlet
Beyond my thoughts all forests, groves, trees
                             have gone crazy in the wind in the wind
                             like a crazy girl walking down the street
                             unheeding uncaring shoeless.

And seeing that
         from all directions waves swell distant vistas
                                                              come flying in
And wondrously, now in Chaitra, what a furore
“Sraban has come, Sraban has come”,
The sky grows eager with dense deep clouds
A fierce gale tears since morning
Its madness knows no bounds
Drunken trees sway their heads        now
                  now they begin to fly
And over the flying forest clang cymbals,
Drums beat again   again      kohl-black rain clouds
                                 rain clouds     mine.


For me, only the walking
              All night
                      within the cloud-hued black dreams beneath sleep
All night a bewitching snakebite in my head
              Never to be forgotten
O seven seas, however did I, a wayward fishing boat
Blithely ride your various heaving billowing waves
Who was it, a coral island, that stopped me midway
made me set up house
My meagre shelter for a few days----------
That too I left behind when in dream one dawn I heard
The command
Left behind family friends and a lap to put my head in
                      without a word I came away
My fishing boat hurtles from one hill to another
Suddenly my boat sinks
Rises again, and then
Heedless of my protests      my reluctance
She takes me on the sandbanks
                  on the fishing boat
She took me        unknown woman.....


Days die. O dusk trailing the dusty soil
If you have known me
Then come, take me back home
Hold me by the hand and take me
In the steps of a ballad I have come
                                                 this far
Now I know not where I am
My eyes were fixed
                        on its watery footprints
I no more know what comes
Watching the road so long
                      my eyes are blinded
Today I hesitate,
My own words sound strange
Yet one day in the darkness
Feet had pressed down on my feet, lips
                      desperately found my lips
Clasped my head to breasts, drowning it,
                                   Two waves, two meagre waves....

And over my newly hatched throbbing youthful words
someone had deliriously rubbed her face
again and again and said, “No peace
no peace not a moment’s respite will this man let me.”

The days died.
O dusk trailing the dusty soil
O dusk shadowy behind trees
I hold your both hands and say---can you
not take me once, just once
back to that long-done kiss
of those faraway days?

I promise you:
I shall begin to write you afresh
Right from scratch
In a brand new tongue…………


Come death’s simple words
                             Sleeping waters in wind’s way
On the water, death’s simple words

The divine perches on a branch
Along night’s way with the morning sun
                           Come death’s simple words

A sparrow perches on his shoulders
                          He forgets the divine
                                           stares at flowers

A dewdrop on the grass-blade
       another a teardrop in his eye
Flowersprig, flowersprig
       Touch him gently while he sleeps.

Speak, death’s simple words,
       Of the land begun in fire
                 Of the sowing in that land

This song will outlive death
What river this beneath your feet
       Where its bends and meanders

There the women tend the garden
       Sprinkle on their hearts in the morning
                    moist words

He who has never known love
Let him go and lie beside the red river

Burn simple words mine
       On that tree where
              Every leaf cups fire

A beggar-woman’s lost child
              Falls asleep by the roadside
Touch him gently, o flowersprig,
       Leave all else aside,
                        come gently touch.

Published October 25, 2005

The original poem [sbapne paaoYaa baadal haaoYaa*] is from a collection titles Aaj Jadi Amaake Jigyes Karofirst published in 1991 by Ananda Publishers, Kolkata.

Translated by Nandini Gupta. Nandini is currently in the Department of Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India. Prior to this, she was ... (more).

Illustrated by Nilanjana Basu. Nilanjana is mechanical engineer by profession and currently lives in San Francisco Bay area. She is one of the regular illustrators for Parabaas.

Click here to send your feedback

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