A meeting to Remember
On 28 June, say almost a month ago, I met my friend Shri Arun Kamal, the poet. Nay, Mr Kamal is too respectable for me and I just cannot force this kind of friendly informality on him, but then again I felt exactly that on that day. I had visited him once more a year ago when I went to personally invite him to release my book, "Virasat". He had honoured me by accepting it and all that he did on the release day of my book and thereafter has only encouraged me. That was a landmark day in my writing career: I went to the hall, unsure of the reaction, but came out charged with a positive self-image. Since then I had thought of visiting him again to say him thanks. So, on 28 June as I visited him I went with a small present that I was sure would make him happy. Yes, I went with a miniature sheet of the philatelic stamp of Jaydev, the 12th century devotional poet of Orissa. He was so happy that instantly he returned me a gift of his own. It was a matching gift at that, his book of poem "Naye Ilaka Mein", [Into A New Locale] the one that was translated into my mother tongue Oriya by one Suchitra Panigrahi. Mr Kamal signed it with the following words, " प्रिय कथाकार श्री अनंत नारायण नन्द जी को सादर." It was a happy gift for me and instantly I requested if I could try translating some of his poems onto my blog. He was happy to hear that. I don't know if I've reached anywhere near the sense that the original poem so profoundly carries, for mine is a translation from an already translated poem. To add to that, I've in me the bad habit of expanding a poem in the garb of transcreation. Still....
A Journey by Night
‘Could you hear that?
There’s something over yonder
That sounded like a khat.?’
‘A fox, it could be
Or maybe some other of that ilk!
Got run over n finished, and that’s all’—
Observed the TTE from behind his muffler.
Standing beside was me in that dark night
At the entrance, my baggage bogging me down
And the whole coach had lost itself in sleep.
Repeated itself once again, the sound
A little fainter this time
Maybe a cub of fox or maybe a dog itself.
‘Look, could you hear that again?’
‘Ah! A poor bull this time
That set itself free
Uprooting its stake’—
‘Most of them get run over like that
Ah! The poor animals
In winter and in the rains
Like the humans dying the most
In the months of September
And also in December and I know that for sure—
For I’m the oldest TTE on the route.’
‘Ah! Tut-tut! It’s gone’—
‘What’s that this time again?’
‘Oh no, is it that?’
‘Yeah, it only sounded like that.’
‘Came out to gather firewood?
And at this ungodly hour!’
The train trundled on…
I was too tired to stand
And sat down on my box
‘How far is my station?’
A Poem by Arun Kamal from his book "Naye Ilaka Mein" [नए इलाका में]
A. N. Nanda