তূম্বা য়াদবা অহিং (Insomniac Night)

Last night it rained here in this part of Delhi where I live. Its sound was so sweet. The sound of the rain is my crush. After sleepless nights, days and nights of sleep and wakefulness in fits and starts of about two weeks, finally sleep came heavily on me after 60 hours of sleeplessness at a stretch. The rain continued.

The alarm rang long before dawn. I could not remember setting it. The last time I went to Manipur (yes, recently), I was so busy that such basic things of life as food and sleep became secondary–I worked at the studio day and night, without sleeping for 48 hours or more. I must have set it then, not to miss the dawn run of the Kakching Runners. Things often slip off my mind. But back to Delhi, I have not once heard the alarm ringing. Strange.

When I woke up, it was still raining, though slow. In the dark. I could not go back to sleep. Then memory brought a lot of things back to me. My thought was set into motion. My emotions aroused.

ঙরাং অহিং দেলিগি ঐনা লৈবা মফমদা নোং খরা তাখি৷ মখোলদু য়াম্না নুংশি৷ নোংগি মখোলসি ঐগি ঙাওজবীনি৷ ইতৎ তত্তনা অহিং তূমদবা, খরা তূম্বা য়াও তূমদবা য়াও হপ্তা অনী লৈরকপনা মমৈদা অমুক্তদা পূং ৬০ চূপ্না তূম্লক্ত্রবা মতুংদা ঙরাং অহিংদি য়াম্না তুম্নীংবা ফাওখি৷ নোংদু অদুম তাহৌই৷

নোং ঙানগদবা ৱাৎলিঙৈদা অলার্ম খোংলকই৷ মদু থমখিবা ঐ নীংশিংদ্রে৷ ঐনা মনিপুরদা অকোনবা চৎলুবদা অহিং নুংথিল তূম্বা চাবা খঙদনা ষ্টুদিওদা থবক চিনখিবা, অহিং অনীকা তূমদনা থবক তৌখিবা, মদুদা ককচীং রন্নর্স কাঙবুগা নোং ঙাল্লমদাইদা লমজেল চেনশি হৌনখিবদু শোয়দনবা থমখিবা ওইরম্বা য়াই৷ ঐ খরা কাউগল্লী৷ অদুবু নহানমখৈদি ঐগি ফোনগি অলার্মসি অমুক্তসু খীংলকপা তাদে৷ করিনো খঙদে৷

হৌগৎলকপদা নোং খরা খরা চুরম্লি৷ অমম্বদা৷ অমুক তূম্মু য়াদ্রে। অদুদগিদি করি করিনো য়াম্না নীংশিংলক্লে৷ করি করিনো য়াম্না খল্লক্লে৷ করি করিনো য়াম্না ফাওরক্লে৷

 

(১)
অহিংগি ঈচীক হুনবদা
ঊৎমান মচুগি অনেম্বা অতিয়া মখাদা
কাঙলূপ কাঙলূপ ঊচানশিংদো
মুশুক মশুক
মুরূম মুরূম
অরোনবা অমা তানবগুম
কৈনোমা ৱানা ঙাইবগুম
মীৎশেন খাঙদুনা
(য়ৌরকহন্নীংদবা নুংশিবরা মদো?
কুইরবা অহিংদু নীংশিংলি
মমা মপানা পমদুনা পুরকখিবদু
অচীকপা ময়োম অমা য়ূমদা, অপীকপা মচলগি
তুমিন্না, ঈচীক চীক্না
অরাপ্পা লায়েংশঙদগি৷)
লেঙদবা অহিংবু চুরূপকুম চিংদুনা
নিংথমগি অৱাউবা মনিল কামদুনা৷
অচীকপদা
মখোয়গি ফি তক্নবগি মখোল
মখোয়গি শোরনা চঙবগি থোকপগি৷

নুংশীৎ শীৎলকপদা
মখোয়গি মশমশু মফিশু
মায়কৈ অমদা ফ্র-ফ্র৷
য়েংবশু৷
মখোয়না ঙাইরিবদু নুংশীৎনা চেনবীখ্রগুম
ঊনাগুম মরী মরী
হনুবগি মীৎনদি উদবা৷

২.
তপ!
তপ!
তপ তপ!
তপ!
অতিয়ানা থোঙ থীল্লক্লে
মীৎশেন খাঙলিঙৈ তূম্বা ঊনাগি৷
তূম্বা য়াদবা অহিংদা
অহিংনা ঈচীক হুনবদা
নাকোঙগি ঈখৌলাংবা মখূৎ মশা মরেং ঙম্নমক
মরেঙ মরেঙ লামথোরকই৷
খোঞ্জেল মরীক অমত্তশু!
লৈতাদবা ফমুংদা লোংনা৷

নোংগি অশাংবা মরীশিংদু চেন্থরক্লে
মুশুক মশুকপা ঊচান মরক্তা
মখোলদি ইথোক থোকহন্দ
অরোনবা থবক তৌরিবগুম
হোন্দোক হোঞ্জিন তৌরিবগুম অরোনবা খরা
মালেমগা অতিয়াগগি মরক্তা
তপ্না, য়াম্না তপ্না
অচীকপদা খোঞ্জেলদং থিবা
তূম্বা য়াদবা হনুবতনা তাগদবা মতৌদা৷

৩.
নুমীৎনা মমীৎ পাঙলকপদা
উচেক ৱায়া ঈরাঙ লাঙলে৷
অদুগা লৈমায়–মদু অশিবগি ইমুংগুম
ইহিং হিংই, তরু তরুই,
খোঙ্গুল অমত্তশু তাদে
ঊচানগি শম্না অমত্তসু
ঊনা খরা নত্তনা কদায়দগিনো খঙদবা
অকংবা, কংফাত্তবা, নাপু৷

অরোনববু অশুক লোনব্রনে?

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নিংথম ময়ায় / Midwinter

Midwinter
by Tomas Tranströmer (1931–2015)
Nobel Prize in Literature (2011)

শংবান্নবা অমা
ঙাল্লকই ঐগি ফিজোলদৈ৷
নিংথম ময়ায় চবূক৷
জ্রিং জ্রিং মরীকশিংসে উনগি৷
ঐ মীৎ উইশিল্লী৷
ঈচীক হুল্লে তাইবঙসে
অকায়বা মখুল অমা
মদুদৈ অশিবা হোন্দুনা
থাঙই লোন্না ঙমখৈ লান্না৷

Robert Fulton’s translation:

A blue sheen
radiates from my clothes.
Midwinter.
Jangling tambourines of ice.
I close my eyes.
There is a soundless world
there is a crack
where dead people
are smuggled across the border.

 

 

 

 

সোই / Signature

Signature
by Tomas Tranströmer (1931–2015)
Nobel Prize in Literature (2011)

কানশিনবা তারে ঐগি
খোঙ অমম্বা থোঙজিনসিদা৷
শঙজাউ৷
ইঙান ঙাল্লী অঙৌবা চেদু৷
মমি কয়ানা লেঙ লেঙ৷
শোই তৌনীংই পূম্নমক মদুদা৷

মঙালদুনা ঐবু লাকহৎ
মতম্বু খুমজিনখিন্দ্রিখৈ৷

Robert Fulton’s translation:

I have to step
over the dark threshold.
A hall.
The white document gleams.
With many shadows moving.
Everyone wants to sign it.

Until the light overtook me
and folded up time.

 

 

 

To John Ashbery

John Askbery photo by Lynn Davis
Photograph by LYNN DAVIS

Poetry is ash, Ashbery—your dust has already scattered in the wind, been the breath of many who have turned into ashes and joined the dust, wind, fire, water and the sky. I don’t know where you came from, Ashbery, but I think you return where you came from, like all of us. We are ashes for a while and we fly and scatter when the home-bound wind comes.

John Ashbery, the beloved Ashbery, your death has let the hell loose in me again, and a sadist or joyist (who can tell them apart, if they aren’t one and the same thing?), I love it because there is a pleasure in all this. You are like me—guilt tasted pleasing, and it made you a poet, for which you have become the beloved.

Surviving the death of a loved one always accompanies a subtle (often acute) feeling of guilt. Life wants to live and death wants to go on, and unfortunately love cannot bridge the two, to our chagrin. If not bridge, love should be able to keep us together in life, through life, or in death, we petulantly demand. But we the warlike humans, who just don’t let it go without a fight but wage wars against and kill each other for whatever petty thing there can be, can’t possibly put ourselves into any action when death wrests our loved ones from our arms invisibly even as we see it, which is stabbingly painful. And life is such that in most of the cases we drag on (just out of nature, but for nothing obvious to live for—it really feels rather empty, unbearably heavily empty, and you just don’t commit suicide), feeling the fading pang of guilt—the survivor’s guilt fading into general sadness or general weakness that pervades the rest of our life, which gravitates toward and finally empties itself into death. Life with its apparent injustice ends well in ash, so it all seems well. Maybe, there will be a lingering after-life feeling of anger at having put through it that badly.

Ashbery, you go on. Your ash, a berry to home—it sucks you back. All the world is ash. I loved you. I love you. I love myself. Life and death. Living and dying. I don’t put myself to a final death maybe because that would deprive me of the (extended) pleasure of continual dying, the pleasure of hating life that in turn breeds love of life, the pleasure of feeling angry at being wronged or done out of something good. The sadism or joy of all this.

Of God and Men (Part 2)

Click go to to Part 1

When the boy returns with a bottle of water, Stille first drips a few drops into his (the man’s) mouth, which he immediately swallows eagerly. He then tilts a half-filled glass slowly into his mouth, which the man drinks more eagerly until his mouth shuts before Stille cants off the glass dry.

It seems he is relived for a while–his complaining eases off and then stops. The mist of tension lifts. Even the old woman rises with an effort and comes trudging past Stille, stops beside him and smiles weakly down at the man.

Is she his wife older by five or ten years? Stille wonders. Or his mother, him having sprinted through his life so fast almost overtaking his mother’s age, perhaps consumingly quickened by what he is suffering from?

Soon the creases of faint smile around her lips and eyes wither back home into the usual crow’s feet, and she leaves there before long, trudges back and sits down at a new place, curled up like before. However, when Stille begins to think of going back, the man starts again, and worse this time. He tosses and turns and twists and kicks, and the low moans develop into long-drawn shrieking cries. The spirits that showed a weak rise during the momentary let-up quail.

“What is the doctor saying?” Stille asks the boy without expecting much of an answer of the boy.

“Nothing!” He is quick on the trigger.

Exactly, Stille thinks.

He leans over the man and asks him in a calm, firm voice, “Please don’t cry. Let’s face this.”

The swaying of the head breaks off, and in the dark, steep depressions in the gnarly emaciated face, a pair of glinting eyeballs rolls to a stop to look at the speaker. “What do you want me to do?” Stille asks softly.

The eyeballs glint at Stille for a moment. There is no anger in them. No defiance. No suspicion. No wickedness. Nothing. Just pain, fear and confusion. Then the head that begins to sway takes them in tow. Now his body twists and then his legs shake as if they were kicking off the pain.

Stille leans back up, shifts his position a bit toward his left and begins to massage the man over his blanket. Unaware of what is troubling him and where the trouble lies, Stille is quite quick about the massage covering the man’s back, waist and legs. However, it seems that the man’s body does not feel his massage—the man groans on, as if the pain is as deep as his marrow, oozing out of the pores of his bones, unaffected by the massage.

“My skull! Frozen! My legs!” The slurred murmur amid his moans is fibered. He is tired, but the illness pulsates what remains in him. His slurs a second language to him now, the boy gets closer to the bedhead on the other side and massages the man’s skull with both his little hands, the fingers hooked and flicked out like the prongs of a harpoon. Stille moves further left down to the foot and finds the feet cold like a block of ice. The temperature felt normal five minutes ago. He manages to rub them fast until the increasingly more terrible jolting makes it impossible. Then the man gives himself up to more jolting, more strained groaning, cursing and crying.

The night has both ends of sound—silence and this man’s cry—together in such a strange fashion. There is the engulfing silence and his occasional cry tears into its pitching, throwing its spear-tipped flight into the darkness toward the other end of the long ward. And the ward’s dark silence kisses the sound dry off it even as it flies and turns it into one of its kind. The silent sitters who have woken up remain still like ghosts pitched in their sick beds black against the dull glass windows.

The place felt empty to Stille when he entered, and now when he scans the space allotted to the bed, its emptiness feels so chilling—the bed, the stainless steel on one side of the bed, the rusted steel bedside table with cabinets between the bed and the wall, which the hospital provides, and nothing else, except for a small bag under the bed and a small plastic trough smelling of urine. The steel cabinets contain no medicine. The only vestige of medicine is the spent plastic IV bottle on the hanger attached to the bed, with the tube casually coiled back up and the connector plugged into the hub of an extra needle punched into it.

Did the woman or the boy put the prescription away? In one of the half open empty cabinets? The darkness inside would not give away a small piece of paper that anybody would tend to fold. Or in a shirt or trousers pocket or in a petticoat pocket, as many Throny Vale women of the lower middle class steeped in hard earning with some valued money usually show doing when they furtively loosen the phanek slit to reach for the money when they need to part with part of that on a bill at a hospital or on an unavoidable distant trip? It is not anywhere visible, but yes we don’t put a prescription on the show. We tend to take prescriptions carefully even when we are too broke to make them meaningful and keep them at a safe place intensifying the feeling of safety, false as it may be, and the lesser money we have, the tighter and tighter does our hold get. How tightly a penniless person holds a prescription shows how tightly and dearly they hold their loved ones on a hospital bed against the pull of death, as if the piece of paper were the very soul of their loved ones.

The boy shakes his head. The innocent face has learnt to show despair. Stille shifts his eyes to the man in noisy torment and it looks like he is dying.

Stille’s lips tighten. He draws in a long draft of air and gives a long sigh, and taking a couple of brisk steps toward the right, he leans low over the man’s face and asks,

“Do you believe in God? In Allah, or any God?”

Is he hesitating? The man gives no visible sign readable as a response to Stille’s question. Not even a different twitch in his lean face almost grotesque in fighting pain. Does he not believe in the idea of God or is he pissed off with me bringing in the far-fetched, inane and useless idea of God while he is struggling for life?

 

Go to Of God and Men (Part 1)

 

Neeru Naorem

Happiness spreads across the tissues of the living moments of life, but it is like the air–it slips through your fingers when you try to clasp it in your hands. It is not that we cannot think about happiness. Of course we humans are self-conscious beings and we can think about and examine our own conditions and our happiness. However, when we do so, we put happiness on the table for the equivalent of a clinical examination, and happiness stops being happiness, because happiness is not a singularity. It is a multiplicity–a multiple of several factors. A surgical examination of your happiness may reveal the factors of your happiness, but at that moment of examination, you do no experience the multiple feeling called happiness. Happiness is a composite feeling–let’s say “a feeling”–experienced, not an analyzed one. You may know happiness, but you are not happy if you do not experience this feeling. It is like sadness in this sense. You know your friend must be sad when his loved one dies, but this knowledge does not necessarily make you sad. Knowledge is one thing, and being is something else.

We feel the grainy texture of what we go through when we are deeply in the moments of whatever we go through. In plainer terms, being at the moment of the living moment and being focused on what we are doing at the moment is to be experiencing what life has for us. There is nothing to live beyond that. There is no life beyond that. Spirituality is something else and it does not preclude happiness.

I have seen happy people, living their daily lives happily. This girl I knew from my town is one of them. Irrespective of her material conditions, …

Oops! I gotta go. Will continue later tonight.

 

Sleeping Home

When you can’t carry your own weight
against the earth’s call for a fall
life is reduced to the weight
of flesh, blood and bone.

The old man settles into his unmade bed,
made only by the fussy wind from the sea—
a bundle of wrinkles among the messy folds.
Old and spent, he sleeps the last sleep.

No snore. The folds and wrinkles at rest.
It feels like time has done with all its fuss—
there is nothing stirring in the bedroom,
in the living room, the corridors, the kitchen,
on the stairs and the cornice—the white silk curtains
in frozen stirs at the windows, and the breeze
caught in the cobweb of the air.

None will hear and the air won’t feel touched
when the old door creaks again to close
when you’ve walked home in your sleep.

নুংঙাইবা থিবদা ৱারদুনা

নুংঙাইবা থিবদা ৱারদুনা
ফমথখ্রে অঙাংদো নুমীৎ তাফমদা
ঙাথদুনা মমীৎ উইশিনখ্রবা নুমীৎতা
মদৌগুম মপোক্না পূংঙৌ ঙৌরদনা৷

মহৌশাগি মচৎতা কনানসু ৱাহং হংলুদে।
মহৌশাদি মহৌশানিদনা,
অঙাংনা শান্নবা পাম্ববো!
অদো, নুঙাইবা থিবদা ৱারবদা
পোত্থাফম থিবদা চোকথরবদা
খল্লুদব্রনে নঙবু নোংমতসু
কনানা করিগি নুংঙাইববু অসুক মমল য়ামহল্লিবা?

য়েকশিনবীরমই লৈই কয়া মাগি মায়থোংদা মতম্না,
ঙাথু থেংথুরবীরমই নুংশিদুনা মাগি হকচাংদা নুংশীৎনা
তারে লৈচিল কয়াগি খূৎফমসু
মমাগি মতম্বাক্তগি শীৎথখিবদা ঙাইরিবা ঊন্সাদা ৷

মদোমই মাদি অদো
কনাসু করিসু লৈজদ্রবগুম–মমাশু, নুমীৎশুুু–
মরোল লোল্লিবা তাইবঙগি
খাঙঙমদবা অচীকপা মরক্তা৷

 

Unfinished Poems

1

A child was born with death, a poppy birthmark
tattooed cutely on its tender skin adding art to flesh.

Pulling long carrot roots from the soft mulch
one weary evening, the boy saw sleepy time,
inveterate as an old hoary smoker, drowse across the valley
like a lucent birthmark floating free of skin.

2

What’s the body to the earth?
It reaches for and slips down to the floor
when breath begins migrating
and the blood slows down to a thick stop.

The accordion, singing voices, loud laughters and cries
and brisk and elaborate movements of dance
have made it a warm winter in the suburb pub.
The cold of the floor creeps up his cheeks
in exchange for the warm flow from
the cooling hole in his heart—
he is drowning in his own life.
A dancing girl takes a break, sits down
at a stool by the counter and tosses a swig
of red-blood hot life into her life-sucker.
Crimson seeps through the cotton clouds
slowly revealing the sky bleeds—
crimson drops trickling down the cold earth.

3

Death is quite different when you’ve survived
Several suicides and several other deaths—
Death is so useless; life—you’ve nowhere to go!

I died there in that city, in that small, dark, boring room
In those monotonous restaurants
Those parks, those benches, those thorns
Those hospital beds, corridors and clinic rooms
Those same boring streets, same boring traffic
Day in, day out. Year in, year out!
I lived there, across the city, digging a grave across it
I died there, across that city, in that grave
Buried my dead body there, in that grave, across that city
With the body of my dead love—
Love, nowhere to live, nowhere to die.

A piece of me still moving—a sure sign of life,
Like a dead actor in an olden movie.
Something doesn’t quite let it alone—life, death,
And I love it and I hate it—it just confuses me.
No name! My heart just pumps it, and it flows
Through my veins and capillaries all over my body!

Quiet like a dark mountain at night.

Forgotten Self, Unfinished Poems

The grey curls from the ash tray
trail up like an unwilling soul
stretched from life to death.
Somewhere in the dark under the thatch rafters
they would meet with the spiral
up from the cigarette between his fingers
and the infrequent clouds from the lips.
He’s smoking away the night—
the night comes in a whirlpool into his cigarette,
mazing through that stuff of the tube,
turning into brooding smoke on the other side
in the cave that blows it back out
in clouds into where it belongs.
Bored, I had gone out time and again,
spilled my heart out in the moonless night
wide as a fisher’s net, to see
if anything in the dark interests me

I found this untitled, unfinished poem when I organize my usually messy desktop today. Too messy today. The MS Word properties say it was written on 7 January 2017. Left unfinished. Many poems. In fact most poems. Yes, I often delete unfinished poem, when I cannot finish them, when I am not in the same mood as I was in when I wrote the original piece. I don’t know why I wrote this. Not in the same mood.

Here is another piece. Left unfinished on the same day–7 January 2017. This one is titled, but certainly unfinished:

Melody at Dawn

This dawn the rain suddenly comes.
I had thrown my wishes up in the skies,
my memories too, where they’d come from.
and I’d forgotten about the rains.
Now suddenly the drops of the rain
come a long way and patter these ancients
against my doors and window panes,
on the dusty leaves in the garden
and the hard long-dry ground—
they must be kicking up the dust
the air smells of the dusty long sigh
of the earth and the vegetation
at the first rain of the season
after they have held their breath for long.
From the balcony I see the dark all around wet,
the sound all around are wet
and the strings of rain run on in the dark
and the drops of rain beat on in the wet.

January 2017. That was when I was so deeply depressed, if I remember it correctly. And when I did not want to talk with anybody or see anybody. I remember I wanted to flee Delhi, but I could not yet do so until 16 January after I had done the formalities at my university, which I wanted to run away from too. I was in no mood to see a single human being, especially the ones I have known and am familiar with.

I more often than not delete unfinished poems. I know I would not ever be able to finish them. I have not done it today. I don’t know why.

Forgotten moods. Forgotten pieces of my self. The idea of the self! How much do I know about myself, if knowledge is made of memory? I forget most about myself. So life goes on. Forgotten promises to myself. Forgotten wishes, left unattended. Pieces of life left unlived. Strange pieces of life I have rather lived, without having wished at all.

কনা-করিশু লৈজদ্রবী

লৈরাংবগি গারী চৎখ্রে মশা লূম্না
ওল্লদুনা নুং থাবা লম্বীদা চকা
লান্দুনা লম্বী চিদাইগি মোংশোঙসে৷

লৈরাংনা নীক-নীক, নোম-নোম
লম্বীগি অকূৎ-অতোঙ তান্থাদা৷

কনা-করিশু লৈজদ্রবীদো
ঙাইজবনি নুংতিগি খূঞ্জগে হায়না লৈরাং
য়েংদুনা লৈজহৌবনি চৎখিবদো গারিনা
লম্বীগি অকূৎ-অতোঙ তান্থাদা৷

মপান্নাইদবদবসিদা ইখৌ লাংলিবা ঐনা

চৎখি নুংশিবা কয়ানা ঐবু লান্দুনা অসুম
হাইফেত্তফাওবা য়েংলমদনা করিসু মরী থোক্নদবগুম
ঈচেলগা তোর্বানগি উপালগগি মতৌগুম৷

ফজবা পূম্নমকসে য়েংজরিঙৈ ঙমজদনা ইশকসে শেমজবা
মিপাইজরিঙৈ থোৎল লৈনাশিংগিদমক উনখাসিদা
মথূম মরাঙ হৌরিঙৈ পীক্লবা থমোইসে ফজবগি ঈথক্না নীকপিরদুনা
অসুম লেপতুনা লৈরম্লে তোর্বানসিদা, লম্বী মতাইসিদা
খঙজহৌদ্রে করিম’ ঐসু চৎকনি হায়বা৷

ফজবা পূম্বসে য়েংনা য়েংনা
নুংশিবা পূম্বসে উনা উনা
ঈখৌ লাংলক্লে ঐ অসুম অসুম
ইখূবামসিদগি অসুম য়ুখ্রবদা পুন্সি মহীসিনা৷

ঐ অসুম চোকথরক্লে,
নুংঙাইনা অমুক্তং তূম্নীংখ্রেদা!