Poetry in Translation

Blank Call

Your cajolery notwithstanding,

My words remain curled up

In the deep wells of my gut.

It’s only my breathing, walking on tiptoes,

That reaches out to touch you and comes back,

Over the telephone.

(Translated from the Hindi by Paromita Chakrabarti)

Blank call

(The Hindi original)

Tumhare lakh manaane par bhi nahi mante mere shabd

baithe rehte hain haath-pair sikode

meri atariyon ke andhe kuen mein kahin

Sirf meri saansein dabe paanv phone ke raste

tumhe chhooker laut aati hain



You turned up in a green shirt that day.

You, of the boring blue and white stripes,

Breaking out in laughter every now and then,

Almost as if you have felt the urge to,

For the first time.

Your eyes crinkled up each time you laughed,

The lines reminding me of the intricate roots

Of a two-hundred-year-old peepul tree.

I was in raptures under the over-wrought boughs

That night I slept the sleep of the peaceful.

Our relationship

had just begun.

 (Translated from the Hindi by Paromita Chakrabarti)


(The Hindi original)

Boring neeley-safed stripes pehenne wale tum

us din sabz kameez pehen kar aaye they.

us din reh reh kar hanste they tum

jaise pehli baar hasne ko man kiya ho tumhara

ankhon ke neeche anginat baareek lakeerein ubhar aati theen

mujhe do sau saal purane kisi peepul ki maheen jadein yaad aayeen

main usi ped ki ghaneri chhaya mein jhoom rahi thi

Us raat bahut meethi neend aayi mujhe

hamara rishta judne sa lag gaya tha ab




Like a sandstorm

Sticks to the hair,

Hurts the eye,

Blows away

My carefully constructed world of good and bad.

The tinny sound of sand between my teeth,

And just imagine,

My whole body

Made of sand as well!

Catch me in your fist

And pour me quick,

Into some colourful bottle somewhere.

 (Translated from the Hindi by Paromita Chakrabarti)


(The Hindi original)

Waqt jaise ret ki andhi ho chala hai

baalon mein bhar jata hai

ankhon ko chubhaata hai

achha-bura jo sanjo rakha tha sab uda le jata hai

daanton ke beech kat-kat bajta ret

tan-badan sab ret ho gaya hai bas maano

ek mutthi bhar ke rakh lo mujhe

kisi rangeen botal mein kahin



I wonder who’s emptied the bottle of blue all around,

The evenings have begun to take on its hue.

There’s blue in the veins of the wind,

Making me dissolve in its embrace.

There’s small talk and longer silences,

And blue–

The colour of my heart,

And my body.

Don’t touch me today

To pull me into the brightness of the day.

Let me slip a bit

Into the beauty of death.

Silence wrapped around my finger

Like a sapphire ring today.

(Translated from the Hindi by Paromita Chakrabarti)



(The Hindi original)

Jane kisne fiza mein neel ki sheeshi udel dee hai

poori sham neeli neeli hui jaati hai aaj

gehri neeli par jati hain hawa ki nasein

unhi ki agosh mein utarti chali jati hoon

baatein choti hoti jati hai, chuppiyan lambi

neela hua jata hai mera man

neela, sara tan

aj mat haath dena mujhe

din ke ujale mein kheench lane ke liye

aj chala jane de zara

maut ke us khoobsurat jheel pe paas

Khamoshi meri angoothi ka neelam ho gayi hai aj!


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