The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mother: A Poem to Translate

Gourishankar Kar is a poet to watch. He writes in his mother tongue Oriya and all his poems are so very readable. They are complete poems written with overpowering muse, with right stress at right places! They have the power, the force that transports the reader to the world of poetic tranquility and sustains him there until he is rewarded with his share of inspiration. I've once attempted to translate a few poems and posted them in my old blog and it was a creative pleasure to do so. One of these days I'll repost them here. As of now, I'm presenting a new poem that I picked for translation from Shri Kar's second book "Chandra Chalan". It's about his mother, old and mellowed, and the feeling she has brought to the poet is one of gratitude and adoration.

She's my first sustenance,
The spark that stoked the fire of my life,
The teacher that instilled words in me
To arrange themselves in expression of a feeling
That's me, my mother's child.

Ageing gracefully she is now
dangling from the dried stalk of life,
Now gravity has got the better of her
With sight enfeebled and skin sagging
And bones, the two hundred and six of them
Rattle and hold her onto the illusion of life
Adorning her like a garland of twigs--
And she is my mother, the mother of mine.

But she was once strong in all her limbs
Strong enough to leave me strengthened,
Her stroke has made my legs
nimble and sturdy for the race of life,
And my hands have grown long enough
to heave morsel to mouth quite effortlessly.
It's a feverish world of anger and venom
But I'm ready to endure them all
With her invigorating massage of my tummy
And with all those pats on my back, truly assuring.

Now she's a candle
flickering inside a dilapidated castle,
Now she's a solitary harvester
winnowing her memory-grains
in her moments of ripe existence,
All of them are now left behind
Her eighty long years of worldly experience.

The sun and wind outside
Contaminated to the core,
As dirty as the rags of a demented could be
Redolent of an evil desire or a barbaric horror
Of an unrequited love or a blind lie.
But thanks to my mother--
I'm so very decently dressed
In the apparel of affection, and adorned
With the jewels of trust.
Eternal stream she is, she flows on and on
Endowing life of fearlessness and pure benediction.

Aha! My ageing mind melts
Into the depth of her motherliness,
She still preserves in her
The beats of my uncomplicated existence,
They still remain intact in her
Like the key bunch tied to her sari end--
My idyllic childhood and my blissful adolescence
My stressful present of a worrisome existence.

A Poem by
Shri Gourishankar Kar

Taken from his poetry collection
"Chandra Chalan", First Ed. 2000

Translated by me
A. N. Nanda


Friday, March 14, 2008

Text of Innocence

This is a post I retrieved from the saved archive of my old (now defunct) blog. It is one such posts I had enjoyed writing. Months gone, its essential humour has not wanned, at least not for me. Hope my reader will agree.

Scientific Rain

‘Right then, tell me how it rains. Aren’t clouds the vapours formed out of the smoke that escapes a pond, a river, the oceans, and the cooking pots that boil rice?’

‘Hmm…smoke and water vapours are not the same, but then in a way you’re right. The so-called smoke that billows out of the water bodies does form the clouds and when they condense and fall, we call them rain. That’s okay. Now tell me how does your sacred fire stoked up with wood and ghee produce rain?’

‘Simple, it’s the same way vapour brings you the rain. As we consign wood and ghee to the sacred fire we get smoke, right? And the smoke that escapes fire along with the special power of hymns forms the cloud, which in turn gives the rain. It’s as simple as that. Our forefathers in Vedic age knew what your modern science now claims to be its own discovery. They knew many more things like this. You people now borrow from our old scriptures in the name of inventions and glorify yourselves.’

‘Say for instance…what is that the scientists borrowed from your scriptures? Try if you can name at least one thing interesting.’

‘Aeroplane, my dear. It’s aeroplane that Wright Brothers had imitated from Ravana’s Puspak aircraft. Haven't you read the Ramayan? Go and read scriptures to learn many more examples. You'll find in our scriptures mobile phones, computers, missiles, blackberries, ipods, gameboys, camcorders, X-boxes--almost every gizmo and every swanky contraption!’

Skimmed Water

When the multi-purpose hydel project was completed with the construction of a dam, a powerhouse, a reservoir and a system of distributary canals, not all people were happy. In this case, the unhappiness was not fomented by environmental activists; rather it was spontaneous, born out of those genuine apprehensions of people affected.

At the downstream delta the advent of an assured source of irrigation did not make anybody happy. That an era of agricultural prosperity had already arrived was not entirely unknown to them, but there was a big doubt. And soon they voiced that.

And what was their doubt?

‘Of what great help is this water? It’ll be totally useless for our crops?’

‘But why? What is wrong with it?’

‘There is. Will this water, discharged from the powerhouses, retain any potency to do any good to our firms? We know all its essence will be skimmed as electricity before it’s discharged to us for irrigation here. Oh, we’re being taken for a ride!’

Iron Ladies

The city became prosperous with an integrated steel plant, a host of ancillary units, good roads, planned housing and other community facilities. The population became composite and cosmopolitan. And the most remarkable thing about it was the visibility of the progress of womankind.

The ladies with their fashionable make-ups were found on the road riding two-wheelers, moving in convivial company shoulder to shoulder with manfolks. Certainly they, as a group, ranked more advanced, more fashionable, and finally more buxom than their counterparts in other cities of the state.

Not that man folk in the town were unaware of this speciality of their women—they also knew its secret. And on this they were unanimous too. If you had asked anybody from them about this, you would get his elaborate response, something like this:

‘Look, ladies need more of iron than men do, right? When they’re in the family way, doctors advise them to take plenty of iron capsules. So why would they not flourish in this city? Isn’t it a city of iron and steel? What I mean is they get sufficient iron from the water they drink and the air they inhale. They make them healthy. It’s as simple as that.’

Male folks here have never ever tried to chew iron ores to become robust, because they know what works for women would not work for men! No way!