This Place is Enough

Between two addresses, an undiscovered geography—
I wrote it, kept it aside, and bothering not to read
A face at first, then a second, and a third…
A story that was yours and mine remained an unfinished business
Like a corpus of drying clothes tossing in the wind
Like always, ripe with a miscellany of the unconsummated—
In those pages, I tuck another day,
Turning them and then I walk away

Winter! A muffler around my neck
I turn back to inspect something, groping for my pocket
Feeling like a stranger to myself,
I disappear from the street into an alley
From the visible self, past the threshold of the door
Household, to courtyard, to solitude

In the guise of hope fear follows at each step
My shadow, like a receipt for arrivals and departures
So I have stopped
Here and there, between shadows, measuring my height
And then running with shackled feet, until
This place that is enough to stand, hide
And lie in silence
Or turn into the green doob grass.

Translation from Hindi by Arup K Chatterjee and Amrita Ajay.

 

Camera

Can he remember two images in one photograph, at once
Or administer in his arteries the blood of grief
Between the borderlines his own history, mapped out in other faces
A shimmering afternoon thins into green twigs that have abjured melancholy

Translation from Hindi by Arup K Chatterjee and Amrita Ajay.

 

If

If there were no jungles, what would be the identity of trees—
If there was no sadness, what would be joy?

Nothing else could be born,
Not even the fleeting moment of unbirth—
Except a shirt and a pair of trousers
The meals of the day and evening
A tiny ray of hope
That someone spares a solitary moment to reminisce

If I chose something else
I could have said what is always fragmentary, otherwise
Leaving me unheard in deaf countries

Translation from Hindi by Arup K Chatterjee and Amrita Ajay.

 

Black Wind

I have stopped looking at the watch
For long no message has been delivered to my phone
In the cacophony, the December noon has started to melt
While the hiss of the earth has clung to its ears
Even the soothsayer cannot tell when this road will be concrete
Or if the tenth planet still revolves in its orbit in the solar system?
History thrown out of joint while waiting at a bus-station in the Delhi border,
I try to measure some more depth of meaning, in the meaningless

Perhaps the potholes were scrutinized while laying the new road
In which there are no corners but only withering slopes
On which are strewn
Several missing feet, wheels and leaves
Dust gathers on the noisy branches
Of the roadside Acacia
The dreams that happened to me have bled and dried on them
And are invisible as the darkness of the day
Against the black wind of Baghpat Road

I shut my ears with my palms and wonder
What I have not written are the leftovers behind

Translation from Hindi by Arup K Chatterjee and Amrita Ajay.

 

A Droplet on the Face

Dark is the color of night, the darkness too black
How can the eyes survey without any light?
How did anyone recognize while hiding
Their memories in the shadows,
The rhythms of the heart flinging conjectures
From the swarming torrents to the stony plains
It falls, it scatters, it sprinkles—
Quietly, a droplet descends from my cheek on to the face of the pillow

Translation from Hindi by Arup K Chatterjee and Amrita Ajay.

 

Fall of Sofia

(For Lucy)

I wonder when the comet will return again
To that very time, a new birth, a new life
Afternoons grow damp in the fall of Sofia
In the soliloquy of a quiescent noise,
Time did not want me to recognize it again
Like our first rendezvous—when I forgot my being

Translation from Hindi by Arup K Chatterjee.

 

The Disquiet

There is a flight in this arousal
A revelation not meant for all—
With eyes stark open behind leaning brows—
It is not visible in this violent storm
Beneath the precipices of words
No one speaks against fearless dictators
Not in a soiree or under a flag
Not in festivals, seminars or forum threads
The neighbourhoods are silent, no song is heard
In the civil districts of songs
A few days it has been, the consolation recurs
And indeed the years have been sixty four
Someone whispers cautiously, truth transpires as a traitor too
Dreams sigh to themselves, underneath the banyan tree
Only the heart beats inside a comatose frame

Translation from Hindi by Arup K Chatterjee.

 

Line on the Map

That which was lost is distant now
That which approaches is farther still
Meanwhile we will have to renovate our days and nights
Pull down the chair, if possible, while turning in sleep
In a no man’s land between two longitudes, a plane crosses the border
In meter and feet now reads its distance from the shore
It slides ever so slightly on a line on the map

I have seen that
And lived that
Which I can mutely narrate

The summers that will come here shall not be remembered
But always, far away from me,
I have felt another line on the map
There is a certain melancholy even in parched summer afternoon
Where, as I sat in the shade beneath a rustling Peepul tree
Startled to realize the summer’s scintilla might just fall into my lap

Translation from Hindi by Arup K Chatterjee.

 

Acacia

On waking each body assumes my guise
Pressures of everyday worldliness abound all around me
As I begin the quest for the real
Wearing yet another mask of mine
I have hung my trophies on the wall quite systematically
I have found many missing ones lending them my identity
Having occasionally posted their “gone missing” notices
Kept their memories hanging on Acacia branches, flip flops
And my socks, both were stung by nettles of the prickly clime
Now let it end, at every sigh I am more replete with the humid air
In the inertia of walking to the corner of earth, I slowly become
A winged creature void of flight, thrust into a glassy alcove
Who, with the changing directions of light
Keeps revolving on a clamp for endless revolutions
The gathering of dust on my trophies is a triumph in itself
While trying to lose the coming ones
While trying to forget written words
Dejected my falsehood was not so real
Despite my daily identifications of the invisible Aeyaar*

Translation from Hindi by Arup K Chatterjee.

 

*A mystical raconteur with talismanic powers to shapeshift.

 

Mohan Rana

Mohan Rana

Mohan Rana one of the foremost Hindi poets living and writing outside of India. He has published eight poetry collections in Hindi in India and a bilingual chapbook Poems (2011) translated from Hindi by Bernard O'Donoghue and Lucy Rosenstein, published by the Poetry Translations Centre London. His most recent collection of poems is Shesh Anek (Much Remains), published by Copper Coin publishing in India in 2016. Besides English, his poems have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Norwegian, German, Dutch, Persian, Marathi and Nepali. He lives in Bath.

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