Five Poems of Joy Goswami

Translated from Bengali by Oindrila Mukherjee

Poem From Another Land

By deeper water, upon greener rock, I had pitched my tent
And washed away with care the colour of my scream
Your bone and stone ornaments dried on wet rock
And Night would spread its blue-black skin upon the water
Then, it wasnít in this land I lived!
The animal hides you gave me to wrap around my waist
I laid beneath my head to sleep on the island sand
In the distance a whale released water through its nose, in the early morning sun
One by one all the corals emerged from the sea -
One day a wandering Marco Polo anchored his ship
One day Columbus too -
Who was first, who second, can you remember? - And once
On his way back from his long desolate exile
Crusoe, Robinson; he spent a couple of hours with us
Dined with us on long fish roasted in fire
Not a single bone in them - ďexcellentĒ he remarked
in dense creeper-covered forest, I noticed
the way the early morning sun flashed - while speaking
with you from beneath his nutbrown beard there flashed
such a smile -
Then, it wasnít in this land I lived!

Tonight why do I recall that tent upon a rock
Why do those bone and feather ornaments sparkle in the dark?
Here where the butterflies are lightless and the minerals damp as a cold
From sleeping bodies warm vapour rises constantly
If I try to wash the wound of my scream, then
From the water there will rise a crimson smoke!

But running will not help!
I will fetch the rocks and warm them
Warm them and whet them
Soon their inert tips
Will sharpen and glisten

            And then
Do you remember one time in the dark how
A drunken bear pounced on you
And I with just such a sharp rock
Flattened him right there, in the sand?

(--Anya Desher Kabita; collected in Kabita-Sangraha (Vol.1),[1990])

A Bathroom Fairytale

Lay yourself down, when you wish to be born lay yourself down
in a grassy field meadow pasture lay yourself down and say Ma Baba Ma Baba
Soon your body will become this tiny in the morning
Office-goers will see on the grass drops of dew
Your one drop will vanish with the warmth of the sun, go,
Go if you wish to be born say to the clouds Ma Baba Ma Baba
The clouds will hurl you from their womb such rain such rain such rain
Down below a beautiful maiden enters her bath in a roofless rented bathroom
Today there isnít enough tap water when the rain comes
Her joy as she embraces you to her bosom such love such love such love....

(--`Kalgharer Roopkatha', Patar Poshak, [1997])

Donít Wait for Your Lover Any Longer

Dusk has fallen. Go home.
Donít wait any more.
         Trees, flats, trees, signboard, trees
In between the slate sky - in the distance, shops by evening
         Every scooter, Maruti
Flashes light and turns by the culvert
The same storm that came and went seven days ago
Is coming back again.
         On the street dust swirls with the paper bag
The windís voice gradually rises to a roar.
         What a strange restlessness
Has begun to tremble in the suburban pondís water...

Go home, wait no more. Go and see
The child you left behind with the nanny
Was playing when he fell asleep on the floor
In the jungle of small and big toys.

(--`Premiker Janye Aar Apekkha Koro Na ', collected in Kabita-Sangraha (Vol.3), [2000])


A name Iíve written on a blade of grass
On the date my mother breathed her last.

(--`Batshorik', Ghumiyecho, Jhaupata? [1990])

An Evening of Rain

An eye had wandered, to anotherís beloved, her leg.
When, carelessly, her sari lifted just a little -
Outside, the rain comes down. A lanternís been lowered underneath the table, in the dark
Now and then the fair lustre of a hidden foot drifts up...

The fault is not in the eye. There was no choice but to look.
Wasnít there? Why? -- Rainspray rushes in noisily
Wasnít there? Why? -- Flowering bushes leap on barbed wire
Wasnít there? Why? -- From the one who has no right
Everything is concealed by a fringe of embroidered lace...

Now the rain has stopped. Now she too has left the room.
Only, the breeze returns. Only, like the eye of a powerless man
From time to time the lantern beneath the table trembles.

(--`Ekti Brishtir Sandhya ', Ghumiyecho, Jhaupata? [1990])

These poems have been translated during a workshop at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. The workshop was conducted by Dr. Sidney Wade, a poet, translator, and a professor of Creative Writing at the same University.

Published August 4, 2004

Translated by Oindrila Mukherjee. Oindrila Mukherjee lived in several places in India but spent the longest time in ... (more).

Illustrated by Nilanjana Basu has been regularly illustrating for Parabaas. She lives in New Hampshire.

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©Parabaas, 2004