Three Poems from Rage of Fire
This can even be read as a ghost story. The naked rows of mountains stare blankly at the sky, like white-haired ascetics. This hill station fogged in mystery, as if the subconscious peeps now and then. Horses fly—one after the other—from the streets to the evening skies. How have Pashupati babu, Jaya De Sarkar and Bishal Chhetri been? Ghost is past . . . shadows. The year 1984 is a ghost. Can living memories be called ghosts?
Mohanraj Subba walks in his western outfit with Duke, the Alsatian. Both are dead. Only shadows remain. O the Mountain Lord! How much of illusion shrouds these foggy streets, the wild plants, the caves? How much of reality pervades?
Let us take a break from the slaughterhouse and move towards Tuesday. A storm is approaching. Shut the windows. A pond. A cycle. A ruined church. Stopped, headless watch. Does any mridanga-player live in this city? I wish to write right here, like an old play, a dance-melody within brackets. Or in an aside. However, there’s a lot of water between the preface and the curtain call. Some tears, some rains. Formless. In that vacuum, I hear only the sound of chisels. Wish, if a sleeping child’s face could be edged! On midnights constructed with dog-barks, sound of trains and smell of candles, I devour darkness, and belch thunderously. Mountain peaks break. Land cracks. Meeting is organised in Geneva regarding the ensuing catastrophe. Hail, Sitangshu babu! Talk about the sea. Is the tornado visible from the hotel room?
The reader is bored by witnessing my idle lying. Something like the moon has risen in the sky. Whispering shadowy figures are walking by the road. I had been waiting long years to capture the moment of falling asleep. Just like the prey chases the huntsman, or the hunter runs after the catch. I fail each time. Only deep embrace pervades. A play, in abysmal unconscious waters. Mutilated child, raped minor, nude, standing amidst the forests . . . return in refrains in my dreams. A pair of broken spectacles lie beside the armoured camp. Insane Ibrahim is laughing at the bloody kite. Shyamsundar kaka, tell me, where does the lane end? On solid walls or wider roads? Where will this gibberish, repentance, conversation reach? I bag a sunny day and enter the bank. That was the day of the centenary celebrations of the national victory of war. So, clothes, the tattered sandals, even the bag were drenched in the rains. The neighbour arrived at the reader’s house. With a vial of nerve-stimulating drugs. I am snatching that away, with the misnotion of awakening. Wait, my phantom and I will gradually be able to stand up. We will run. So will my writings.
Translated from the Bengali by Hriya Banerjee
Aveek Majumder (b. 1965) is an esteemed Bangla poet and literary critic from Kolkata, India. He has authored more than twelve books of poems, including a collection of selected poems, published by well-known publishers in West Bengal. He takes keen interest in Tagore’s creative expressions, and his critical essays focus on literature, history and culture. He has edited seminal books on Indian literature and poetry. He has also translated Indian literature into Bangla. He received the prestigious Sudhindranath Dutta Award for Poetry in 2021. He has been a teacher of Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University since 1996.
Hriya Banerjee is a PhD research scholar at the Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, and assistant professor of English at Netaji Subhash Engineering College, Kolkata. Her areas of research and publication are popular culture, modern Indian literatures, Tagore studies, translation studies and literary urban studies. She has worked as a language expert at the University of Calcutta for a research project titled “A Survey of Bengali Language in India”. Hriya has a deep-rooted passion for the performative arts and is a trained Rabindra sangeet singer.