Silhouette Editor Amitava Nag has translated Soumitra Chatterjee’s selected Bengali poems into an English collection Walking through the Mist published this year. This is the first attempt at translating the legendary thespian’s poems. LnC is privileged to publish 6 of them.
A river wakes up in this body,
Breaks down the banks,
All that were safe
Flow away in torrents,
Love raises tidal waves in the mind
Wash away in the tsunami,
Wailing for beauty
Fills up the sky and wind,
Songs of spring –
A river awakened beats the drum,
To wake you up from your sleep
Spring songs try to assure you – all that is no more
May need not be lost,
Some days memories become real,
Memories turn into truth.
There is no custom to thank one for dreaming,
Humans are relieved
When dreams break,
For the man without dreams
Sleeplessness is personal,
The profound night calls out loud
Holding the iron grills of the window –
‘Captive, are you awake?’
Moon silently stepping into insomnia,
Ferries the difficult path
Dreamless eyes wide open in the dark
Look out for someone to thank,
Deep night, intense
Calls out loud holding the iron grills of the window –
‘Captive, are you awake?’
For a long time
Sadness resided in my heart cage,
Today, at dawn
I will open the door to let it fly away,
Like a floating cloud in a turquoise spring sky
As the evening beckons
For the bird to return on his own
I will keep the cage open,
Let him fly in
With wings caressed by the soft lunar light – blue.
Days afflicted with toil,
Groans of exhaustion,
Pain of futility
– all have been drowned now,
When that love bird returns to sing
A ballad of all six seasons stitched along,
My pain will extinguish sorrows
Reserved for long, in my heart cage.
(dedicated to Satyajit Ray)
Wishing your recovery since you are the bridge –
Between us and sanity,
We, the humans, have not returned to mother nature
With our debts, not even art,
Thirsty and lost we have so long followed
Shiny mirages, but in vain.
You are the road I yearn for,
I come to you endlessly with the dividends of my dreams, you keep well
In the map of existence,
You are always,
my pathway to beauty.
The khalasi is cleaning a truck in Kopai,
The water of the river
Drips and drains away pain.
A day will come
I am no longer here,
A different khalasi greets
(A khalasi is a helper of a truck-driver who runs all the small errands)
Maybe if I walk through this mist
I will reach near your loneliness, or
In this sluggish, post-summer afternoon
I can remember, once my day was over
When I was in the midst of my work, and many other,
Oh, even beyond the length of my longest work,
I could see the pained look in your eyes, but
I could never touch your solitude.
Now, in the mist I search
For the times lost
Between you and me.
Click here to buy Walking through the Mist on Amazon
Publisher: Dhauli Books (1 January 2020)
Cover Design: Piu Mahapatra
‘Walking through the Mist’ is a collection of 50 poems originally written in Bengali by Soumitra Chatterjee, a creative genius. Apart from being an actor of international eminence and recognition he is a painter, a theatre actor-cum-director, a playwright, a magazine editor, an elocutionist and also a poet.
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