Woman and Her Muse, a review

Woman and her muse

Author: Lopamudra Banerjee,

Publisher : Authorspress, New Delhi 110016,

ISBN 978-93-88008-42-6

Musings are part of every poet’s journey to writing. Without musing how can a poet write, dream, nurture words and embellish them to make them express his or her thoughts, beliefs, wanderings, religiosity, essence of being?

Lopamundra Banerjee has put her womanhood at the centre and like a flower , spreading petals, out of that centre are spread her poems and prose and once they spread they reach varied dimensions of both space and time. Divided into six sections, namely a) Five weird musings, b) Kolkata, the poetry I breathe , c) Bon Voyage , d) Portrait of a woman as the artist, e) The Durga series and f) cinema musings , this book of poetry and memoir brings the reader to the realm of poet’s mind and how fleeting things of life cast their impressions upon it. Being a collection of different poems and prose pieces written at different times, the work , quite naturally traces back and forth, the poet’s journeys, both on the physical plane which is real in the most real terms and that flight of mind which is the inseparable part of any poet and writer.

She has made it quite clear in ‘ Woman and Her Muse’ , the poem included in the first section ( pg 23) :

when she speaks poetry/wordless walls stare/invisible, foamy dreams./cardboard boxes of memories/childhood/scattered ashes,frozen in time.’

Yes, she has drawn a rich tapestry of her mind and its richness lies not in mere weaving of words so to say, for it puts the reader into a wider perspective. How much wide it is?

Well , for that the reader will have to believe in her ‘Writing in cursive, Melancholic letters’ :

‘First , a cursive a, then two swaying p’s , then an expectant l floating with a languid e;’

Never it has happened that apple, the fruit of knowledge, has been so deciphered! The children learning cursive handwriting can well do that on their exercise books and here is Lopa , doing the same thing but on a larger scale. She is taking from her notebook , the proverbial notebook of a poet, those writings which stirred her and also which came out of stirring, and putting them one after another like canvases being put before the eyes of the discerning reader to grasp their meanings, texture, tone and variety.

And that is why, the cover page has probably that pair of eyes of a face ( a work of art done by Sufia Khatoon, a poet and a painter/artist).

A pair of eyes that stare at the reader and at the same time, as the readers stare back at the book, its pages, at those printed alphabets arranged in forms of poems and prose, they find how seasons, places, people, photographs, come and linger and cast an unforgettable mark upon them.

If the city of Kolkata, arrives through ‘ the hungry salt of tears/ pelting on a window…’ in Tilottama , at Jorasanko it is not only ‘the red brick building ‘ but a building having ‘ the images illustrated. Kadambari, Mrinalini sing still, gazing from the white, lingering void’.

And then College Street:

I am a bystander in your serpentine lanes in the crossroads of my journey…’

And finally , Princep Ghat:

I know some evenings

Your breath brushes past mine,

And we are kindred souls,

Burning in each other’s fire.’

And Rowing : The Boat Song:

Tonight, I am in need of your mast and anchor,

I am chased by endless wafting.’

And when the city of her birth comes so, there should be as always, a tribute to the greatest bard.

And there, I find myself not as a mere reviewer. Reading her humble homage to Tagore, is like finding the true meaning of all writings and all lives we live. There she surpasses her womanhood. There she reaches to find where lies that touch of divinity which Gurudeb had left for all to find solace and comfort.

So she finds comfort in Tagore as she tries to come in terms of her Homecoming while rearranging her old study room all alone.

If places take up a part of her mental space , invariably there are people too.

If Between the Folds and Pleats : ARoseate Sonnet ( invented by Dr. A.V.Koshy) takes the metaphor of the sari and extends it to find where lies the agonies and hurts of a woman or all women, a memoir written for Get Bengal during Kolkata Book Fair, brings into fore her longing to cross paths with long lost friends.

Bon Voyage, the next section, is all about traveling and finding beauty and meditative contemplation. Be it By the side of Table Rock Lake, Missouri, or Kerala: a series of vignettes, or To The Grand Minaret, Qutub Minar, she finds how each and every place opens up vistas leading to her past and shaping her present.

Those vistas, are they sought like Joyce? I was asking myself the moment I moved to Portrait of a woman as the artist.

Is there Stephen in everyone of us , trying to come in terms with the intellectual awakening that we face in this world?

May be , and for Lopa, being a mother who is also very much part of Indian Diaspora, putting The Topography of the Mind, is the most sensitive and subjective work to do and she has done it with that candid tone which can not even be found in Joyce, primarily because Lopa is not following any Joycean repertoire, she is not adhering to his theme or his narrative technique.

She is doing it with her own characteristic elan. And so she can claim easily :

‘Crazy girls, listen, the topography of a fertile adult mind of a woman , turning middle aged and forlorn, is a queer one’.

She does not weave a folklore, she does not take circumlocutory ways. She is blatant. She holds no bar while she puts into paper her mind.

And so she resurrects. She finds Laxmanrekha: The pangs of Freedom and also Na Hanyate:The Resurrection. She responds to love poems of Kamala Das and let loose the fiery breath of a woman while going beyond cage following Maya Angelou.

She becomes Panchali and with fullest devotion, calls her Sakha, Krishna before laying open a bruised woman’s heart to Partha, Bheemsen, Dharmaraaj, Nakul and Sahadev and Karna.

The Durga series, inspired by paintings of Monica Talukdar and other works is eclectic as it should be and what takes this segment to its height of humanism is that belief of a poet and writer to allude Asifa Bano to The Goddess who Dies.

Cinema Musings begins with For Charulata and the Broken Home, which is quite logical given the fact that she has translated ‘Nastanirh‘ ( The Broken Home).

Next comes Durga and Apu and then invariably Apu and Aparna.

From there as we move, we find ghazals, Gulzar , Geeta Dutt.

The sufferings, the dreams, the journeys- all that make her life and make her a poet and a writer, are put with unabashed honesty and the culmination of that honesty is her tribute to Julie Andrews, the last but not the least one included in this incredible collection of poems and prose and this time, she generates her sound of music with profundity.

‘A skyful of balloons’ and finding Eric Segal’s ‘ Love Story’ and going even beyond that,

A skyful of balloons ( A novella)

Author: Santosh Bakaya

Publisher : Authorspress

ISBN 978 93 5207 —

The first time I read Santosh Bakaya was the time when I got her magnum opus ‘ The Ballad of Bapu’. Someone writing a ballad on Mahatma, someone who is creating a long biographical lyric on the Father of the country, must be doing it out of a serious love towards poetry and also to the country. That was the thought with which I started reading it and once I went through it, amazement was the only thing that I had and that amazement led me not only to review that work of hers but also later on her another work ‘ Under the apple boughs’ . ‘ Under the apple boughs’, being a collection of her poetry, brought all the poetic elements she had imbibed over years- her academic brilliance, her easy yet learned handling of varied kinds of poetry, her romantic bent of mind akin to that of any keen observer of nature and its inexhaustible beauty.

It is often said that a poet can never be a good story writer (and when it is said some exceptions are obviously kept aside as it is always done in case of any overtly generalised statement). Story writing is something which requires not only creating situations and events which formulate the plot, but also requires a greater understanding of how characters function in a story build-up, how they come across each other under the broader outline of the so called plot and how far they can move within the constraints of the plot.

If poetry, despite sometimes being very much metrically organised, can be free from plotting of events on a large scale, stories are bound to be well structured having delineation and denouement. So when Santosh ji, out of her elder sister like affection, asked me to have a read of her novella ‘A skyful of balloons’, I expected the novella to be an extremely poetic one having a rhyme of its own. But I was not sure how the characters would grow and evolve within the structure of an young adult fiction. But then, when there is Kashmir at the backdrop, a love story can never become a lacklustre one. It is bound to be poetic and also a gripping saga of human struggle.

If Kashmir is that place where Love of Nature can be felt at its supreme best, where chinar and walnut and pine trees dot the landscape, where shikaras on lakes make many to erupt with joy, finding two love birds Preeti and Vivek there, is like almost believing in the beauty of love and how it makes not only the two happy but also the world around them.

The two , being neighbours and also childhood friends, know each other like palms of their hands.They grow together, celebrate birthdays together and when the stars would twinkle in the sky , when even the birds would be snoozing, the two would bask in beauty of love. If they would be in the shikara, chirping on , breaking into songs and recitation, the birds in the trees fringing the lake would also break into chatter.

That’s how their love story becomes the story of Love, reminding one, time and again, that popular novella by Eric Segal, ‘ Love Story’.

If we try to find a parallel, ‘Love Story’ can be the one, in many respects, to this novella. Thematically the semblance is apparent. The abundant use of anecdotes related to literature and poetry in a novella which deals with love usually found in y/a fictions and yet which goes beyond the pre-set norms of y/a, primarily because of its treatment of the theme, is what that makes it different like ‘ Love Story’ became the different one.

Having said that, it would be wrong to assume ‘ A skyful of balloons’ is another ‘ Love Story’.

For ‘ A skyful of balloons’ has as its locale , Kashmir- its beauty, its inexhaustible resource of natural wonders, its people.

Secondly the narrative is a mixed one , flashback and present.

Thirdly and most importantly, it has someone like Vicky , a little boy, who like a sunflower shines to give the story that halo of hope and love at the end and there it follows the paradigm which is greatly different from the paradigm that is followed by ‘ Love Story’, essentially by providing a strong message of optimism in contrast to cathartic feeling that ‘ Love Story’ arouses.

Fourthly, if I may add, Santosh Bakaya has gone beyond the usual periphery of y/a novella by putting into ‘ A skyful of balloons’ poetic and delightful passages which take the novella to that height which transmutes the novella to a prosaic poem and there the novella supersedes even ‘ Love Story’ or for that matter all so called y/ a fictions.

To sum up, all I can do is to quote Santosh Bakaya from the novella:

“Walnuts keep falling on my lawn.
From dusk to dawn
On and on.”

Love, rain, Parama and Alokananda

‘Such a beautiful day…’
Parama said, ‘why not we go for a walk?’
Alokananda was trying to edit a passage.
The report would go to the editor’s desk by nine. From there to the composer’s.

‘Why not?’
Parama asked.

‘If Rajdeep da finds you loitering around like this, you know…’
Alokananda said, suppressing her smile.
‘Who’s that Rajdeep? I’m slave to none!’
Parama said, smiling.

It was only two forty.
A mild breeze was blowing.
It had the smell of flowers and a bit of moisture.
‘It might be raining somewhere…’
Parama thought the first thing she and Alokananda came down to the small park opposite their office. Break time.
The makeshift stalls of food and chai by the boundary of the park were having brisk business.

‘For the last few days noticed you are in the most blessed state…always smiling…doing all works in time…not sitting on papers and not keeping them piled up…clearing them as soon as they come…what?’
Alokananda asked Parama.
Parama looked at her.
‘Nothing… Just it is such a fine weather…’
‘Na…not letting go of you only by those words…’
She pulled Parama.
Parama danced her brows.
‘Tell me, will you?’
Alokananda asked, this time pleading.
‘Want to know?’
Parama asked.
Alokananda couldn’t suppress her excitement.
‘I am in Love…’
Parama replied bluntly.
Without any excitement.
Not even dancing her eyebrows.
Not even smiling.
Alokananda couldn’t close her mouth.
Parama, the girl she had known for the last five years, never even going out with any boyfriend, thinking them to be most childish, jealous, arrogant and silly, had fallen in love!
‘Don’t joke with me…I know how you only a few days back slapped a boy who just tried to offer you a rose…’
Alokananda said, looking confused.
Parama was singing.
Usually she sings English songs.
Alokananda had heard Bob Dylan to Bob Marley, courtesy Parama.
But Bengali songs…
Only Rabindra sangeet.
But this song though Bengali had a tribal tune.
‘Fallen in love with a tribal guy or what?’
Alokananda poked Parama, using her right hand.
Parama was not listening to Alokananda’s words.
She had bought kachuris from a shop and presently dividing them into two equal proportions, numerically, counting them.

‘Lunch break…stuff your stomach first…God knows when we would be out of office this evening…’
Parama gave some kachuris and potato curry held in a small plastic container.
They had sat down on a bench at the park.

‘Ok…but tell me, who that lucky guy is?’

Parama said, munching kachuris.
‘Come’n! Do you think I am a fool? Can’t I see it in your face?’
‘Really? Does it show?really?’
Parama became thoughtful.
‘Of course! When I met your Mriganko da, I didn’t sleep for a whole night!’
‘Ha ha ha…’
Parama guffawed.

‘Now tell me…please…’
‘Well, I am in love with Love…’
Parama said.
‘Love with Love? What kind of puzzle is this?’
Alokananda asked, her eyes patting.
‘Well…look…now that we are sitting here and having our lunch…in this park…ain’t it beautiful?’
‘Then what?’
‘Then we go to the office and edit stuff and compose things…you call Mriganko da, asking about Shiblu, in the midst of your terrible business,ain’t that beautiful?’
Parama asked, looking at Alokananda, with poignant eyes.
‘Yes…that’s we all do…I mean you call your dad and ask whether he had taken his lunch…don’t you?’

Alokananda was confused.
‘Okay…then you look at yourself at the mirror and don’t you say you are beautiful?’
‘I dress up standing there…but don’t say that…’
‘Okay…don’t you like it when a cuckoo sings or parrot talks back?’
‘My dear Alokananda di, that is love!’
Parama pinched Alokananda’s cheek.
‘Tui na…'(oh! You are such a …)
Alokananda giggled, almost like a child.

Gayatri’s discovery

That afternoon last, was the most blessed one probably I had’
Gayatri thought as she started ironing the school uniform of her daughter Ahona.
Ahona would go out at nine. She checked her school bag.
‘Have you taken your exercise books? The class work copies? That Enid Blyton which you borrowed from your friend?’
Gayatri asked.
Ahona nodded.

Kaushik was checking a script.
‘Ahona, have you seen my glasses?’
Kaushik asked.
‘You have put them on the bedside table’
Gayatri replied.
‘O yes…’
Kaushik went to fetch them.
The script of the story is to be checked.
Often while typing he loses a comma, or an exclamation or an apostrophe.

Gayatri was humming a song.
She was thinking of the afternoon last.
The cool breeze was sweeping the street then.
She was returning from office.
The sun was drawing a supranormal sketch on the sky.
She found herself immersed fully into the beauty of that moment.
She forgot to take the change from the vegetable man when she bought those vegetables.

‘Mom, where’s my pencil box?’

Gayatri was brought back to the reality.
‘Gosh, am I drifting?’
She thought.

Kaushik had started works with the script it seemed.
A song was being played at his music system.

An instrumental piece.
A piano.
Gayatri knew it.
Richard Clayderman.

The pool car had arrived.
Gayatri took Ahona to the car.
The children were chirping there inside the car like a flock of birds.

‘Have you memorised the poem aunty asked?’
‘I did…should I recite?’
‘I have got a new Percy Jackson!’
‘What is it?’
‘That Greek heroes…’
‘Oh! Would you lend that to me?’
‘Yes! Why not?’

The children were chirping.

Gayatri thought that the morning was just the continuation of the afternoon last.

Kaushik was writing something on his clipboard.

Gayatri looked at him and felt blessed.
‘A work centric man… How come he got so many words in him? How come he keeps on typing and writing and pouring?
All the time writing?
Where from he gets that energy?’

Gayatri had seen him for years.
He had remained that.

Then she thought of the scene of the last afternoon.
Her being fully immersed into the beauty of an afternoon of spring.
Her waking up today and being into the same kind of feeling.

‘It must be Love…’
Gayatri thought.
She started preparing the breakfast.
She started humming a song.

A song that had those words which narrates the story of finding Love as worship.
A kind of devotion.

‘Love, if it is there, it comes pouring, in forms of words, in form of a song, in form of an afternoon painting a sky…’

She thought.

‘Its a wonderful world…’
She heard Kaushik singing from his study.
A song.

Washington’s ?
Gayatri tried to recollect the name of the singer.

‘He must have completed checking the script…’
Gayatri smiled.

She thought of singing out aloud.
A song of Tagore.
Of finding Love as worship.

If music is that binds a family

Every evening, when the house would become agog with activities,
after the lull of the afternoon,
when uncles and father would return home,
Grandpa would switch on his turntable
And put LPs upon it,

Usually it would be a Bismillah Khan
Or Bade Ghulam Ali,
We had then also returned home from outdoors,

Mother and aunt would blow the counch shells
And put incense sticks at the tulshi mancha,

Grandpa would recline on his favourite armchair
And take puffs from his hookah,
His eyes would remain closed,
He would then be dipping into music,

And the house too would turn musical,
Aunt would be humming a tune while chopping vegetables at the kitchen,
Uncle would be reciting a poem to us
From our textbooks, teaching us the nuances of poetic diction,
And we would sometimes break out singing in chorus,
Our rhymes and verses,

At the backdrop, the vinyl LPs would turn on the table, giving a curious blessedness to all of us.

Some poems on Fathers

Today being Fathers’ Day,
sharing some famous and popular poems written by some prolific poets.
Reading each of them fills one with love, compassion, empathy and solidarity and of course a heightened passion which poetry in general is capable to evoke.
As without Mothers , Fathers become non existent, these poems invariably evoke our love for our Mothers too.

By sharing these poems here, I am just trying to pay my respect to Fathers who made us , Fathers of our countries too, like their counterparts, The Mothers of our lands.
1.The Little Big Man
– Rabindranath Tagore

I am small because I am a little child. I shall be big when I am
as old as my father is.
My teacher will come and say, “It is late, bring your slate
and your books.”
I shall tell him, ” Do you not know I am as big as father? And
I must not have lessons any more.”
My master will wonder and say, “He can leave his books if he
likes, for he is grown up.”
I shall dress myself and walk to the fair where the crowd is
My uncle will come rushing up to me and say, “You will get
lost, my boy; let me carry you.”
I shall answer, “Can’t you see, uncle, I am as big as father?
I must go to the fair alone.”
Uncle will say, “Yes, he can go wherever he likes, for he is
grown up.”
Mother will come from her bath when I am giving money to my
nurse, for I shall know how to open the box with my key.
Mother will say, “What are you about, naughty child?”
I shall tell her, “Mother, don’t you know, I am as big as
father, and I must give silver to my nurse.”
Mother will say to herself, “He can give money to whom he
likes, for he is grown up.”
In the holiday time in October father will come home and,
thinking that I am still a baby, will bring for me from the town
little shoes and small silken frocks.
I shall say, “Father, give them to my dada, for I am as big
as you are.”
Father will think and say, “He can buy his own clothes if he
likes, for he is grown up.”

2. Anecdote for Fathers
– William Wordsworth

I HAVE a boy of five years old;
His face is fair and fresh to see;
His limbs are cast in beauty’s mold
And dearly he loves me.

One morn we strolled on our dry walk,
Or quiet home all full in view,
And held such intermitted talk
As we are wont to do.

My thoughts on former pleasures ran;
I thought of Kilve’s delightful shore,
Our pleasant home when spring began,
A long, long year before.

A day it was when I could bear
Some fond regrets to entertain;
With so much happiness to spare,
I could not feel a pain.

The green earth echoed to the feet
Of lambs that bounded through the glade,
From shade to sunshine, and as fleet
From sunshine back to shade.

Birds warbled round me—and each trace
Of inward sadness had its charm;
Kilve, thought I, was a favoured place,
And so is Liswyn farm.

My boy beside me tripped, so slim
And graceful in his rustic dress!
And, as we talked, I questioned him,
In very idleness.

‘Now tell me, had you rather be,’
I said. and took him by the arm,
‘On Kilve’s smooth shore, by the green sea,
Or here at Liswyn farm?’

In careless mood he looked at me,
While still I held him by the arm,
And said, ‘At Kilve I’d rather be
Than here at Liswyn farm.’

‘Now, little Edward, say why so:
My little Edward, tell me why.’—
‘I cannot tell, I do not know.’—
‘Why, this is strange,’ said I;

‘For, here are woods, hills smooth and warm:
There surely must one reason be
Why you would change sweet Liswyn farm
For Kilve by the green sea.’

At this, my boy hung down his head,
He blushed with shame, nor made reply;
And three times to the child I said,
‘Why, :Edward, tell me why?’

His head he raised—there was in sight,
It caught his eye, he saw it plain—
Upon the house-top, glittering bright,
A broad and gilded vane.

Then did the boy his tongue unlock,
And eased his mind with this reply:
‘At Kilve there was no weather-cock;
And that’s the reaon why.’

O dearest, dearest boy! my heart
For better lore would seldom yearn,
Could I but teach the hundredth part
Of what from thee I learn.

3. My father moved through dooms of love
– E. E. Cummings.

my father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give,
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height

this motionless forgetful where
turned at his glance to shining here;
that if (so timid air is firm)
under his eyes would stir and squirm

newly as from unburied which
floats the first who, his april touch
drove sleeping selves to swarm their fates
woke dreamers to their ghostly roots

and should some why completely weep
my father’s fingers brought her sleep:
vainly no smallest voice might cry
for he could feel the mountains grow.

Lifting the valleys of the sea
my father moved through griefs of joy;
praising a forehead called the moon
singing desire into begin

joy was his song and joy so pure
a heart of star by him could steer
and pure so now and now so yes
the wrists of twilight would rejoice

keen as midsummer’s keen beyond
conceiving mind of sun will stand,
so strictly (over utmost him
so hugely) stood my father’s dream

his flesh was flesh his blood was blood:
no hungry man but wished him food;
no cripple wouldn’t creep one mile
uphill to only see him smile.

Scorning the Pomp of must and shall
my father moved through dooms of feel;
his anger was as right as rain
his pity was as green as grain

septembering arms of year extend
less humbly wealth to foe and friend
than he to foolish and to wise
offered immeasurable is

proudly and (by octobering flame
beckoned) as earth will downward climb,
so naked for immortal work
his shoulders marched against the dark

his sorrow was as true as bread:
no liar looked him in the head;
if every friend became his foe
he’d laugh and build a world with snow.

My father moved through theys of we,
singing each new leaf out of each tree
(and every child was sure that spring
danced when she heard my father sing)

then let men kill which cannot share,
let blood and flesh be mud and mire,
scheming imagine, passion willed,
freedom a drug that’s bought and sold

giving to steal and cruel kind,
a heart to fear, to doubt a mind,
to differ a disease of same,
conform the pinnacle of am

though dull were all we taste as bright,
bitter all utterly things sweet,
maggoty minus and dumb death
all we inherit, all bequeath

and nothing quite so least as truth
—i say though hate were why men breathe—
because my Father lived his soul
love is the whole and more than all

4. To Her Father with Some Verses


Most truly honoured, and as truly dear,

If worth in me or ought I do appear,

Who can of right better demand the same

Than may your worthy self from whom it came?

The principal might yield a greater sum,

Yet handled ill, amounts but to this crumb;

My stock’s so small I know not how to pay,

My bond remains in force unto this day;

Yet for part payment take this simple mite,

Where nothing’s to be had, kings loose their right.

Such is my debt I may not say forgive,

But as I can, I’ll pay it while I live;

Such is my bond, none can discharge but I,

Yet paying is not paid until I die.

5. Sarvodaya

– Devarakshanam Govinden

Unto this last
I give the same
As unto the first.

He who worked from the first hour
is equal to he
who worked from the eleventh.

Both meet in the dignity
of work and in the dignity
of pay.

The gift of bread for all
Is the bequest of
Peace for the world.

Some poems of Tagore, translation, transliteration and interpretations,

Some poems of Tagore,
Translation, transliteration and interpretations,

Over the years I have translated and transliterated some poems and songs of Rabindranath Tagore, purely out of my love for his songs and poems. In most cases, I tried to find Tagore’s love and passion as presented in his poems and songs and while doing so, sometimes added a word or two just to help the idea as interpreted by me to emerge , keeping in mind the basic tenet of Tagorean songs/ poems. So in that sense, in some cases they can be called my humble interpretations of Tagore’s poems as well.
Putting together all those translated and transliterated works into one single document had been my objective for quite some time.
I am glad that I have been able to do that just a few days before Tagore’s birth anniversary.



Where my moving stops
There whence I (like a leaf) drop
There how opens thy door;

Where my song ends
Whence it ( towards thy Self ) bends

There how the silent ocean lies;

Where my eyes get closed
With (thy )darkness whence it opens
There how the Eternity lights up;

The flower outside blooms
Onto dust how it swoons
Within me how thence
ambrosaic fruit bears essence;

Whence to thee
My works I see
How thence my words flow
Finding in the sky thy eternal show;

Whence I lose me
Spent absolute,
How do I find thee
In Thou how I find me.

(*note: it is a transliteration/ translation of a poem/ song of Rabindranath Tagore, number 100, as can be found in ‘গীতালি ‘ / ‘ Geetali’ section , page number 449, Collected Works/ রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি, volume two, Birth Centenary edition. )


Now have I scraped out time-
Whence wilt thy time come,
Put the taper there at thy door
Whence wilt thou light it up,
Shoved away all burden
Tied the boat at the ghat-
Left all the seeking on roads
Selling wares, buying up in markets
Of the ville;

At the evening that mallika which blooms
Her fragrance fills my room,
On leaves of lotus jasmine have I gathered
Only to pay obeiscance to thy feet,
Kept my mind for thee, calm and restive
For thou have I adorned my self
With sandalwood paste;

Spent the whole day doing works
Now whence thy time wilt come,
May I ask;

Whence the moon wilt rise tonight
By the side of the river
Hovering quiet over those coconut trees,
How the courtyard of the temple
Would find light embracing the shadows of trees;

The southern breeze would blow sudden
Bringing forth the tide-
The tied boat mine by waves so touched,
Would how with the ghat converse
About his longings and dreams
( expansive and vast);

Whence the tide would with the bay get merged
Whence the water would become still,
The breeze whence would become mild
The moon would also go to sleep,
How then would with indolence come sleep
Only to lie at thy feet;

Sitting quiet leaving my sleep on ground
How on wait I for time thine
Get bound.

(*note : it is a transliteration / translation of a poem of Rabindranath Tagore titled ‘প্রতীক্ষা ‘ / ‘ Pratiksha’ , as can be found in page number 195-196 , volume two, ‘ খেয়া’ / ‘ kheya’ section, Collected Works/ রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি, Birth Centenary edition.)
I only said
‘ can anyone for me
Take down the full moon
From that kadam tree
Right at the evening’
My words thus listening
Brother said laughing
‘ never seen anyone so
Like a fool like you
Moon resides far away
How can I touch the orb
Of silver’;
I said ‘ that I do not know
But whence our Mother
Smile through that window
Will you say the same
That our Mother stays
Far away, at some distant lane’;
Still brother said
‘never seen anyone so
Like a fool like you’;
Brother said
‘ where will you find
Such a big string or instrument
To bring moon here
To her bind’;
And I did revert
‘ yonder lies the moon
The small rounded one
Can not with ease
Her we by our hands bring
Listening to me thus
Brother laughed
‘ never seen so anyone near and far
Like a fool as you are ‘;

(* note: it is a transliteration of a poem of Rabindranath Tagore as can be found in page number 36-37, ‘ শিশু’ / ‘ Shishu’ section, Collected Works / রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি, volume two, Birth Centenary edition )

Those angels who live in the clouds
They how call me, how me they call;
They say ‘ Gee! How we play
From morn to afternoon to eve,
( with the passage of the day)
In the morn with golden rays
At night with silvery flakes
Of the moon
( how with her songs we swoon)

And I them ask,’ how can I in your joys bask?’
They say, ‘ Come with us to the end of the field
There we’ll with mirth do seal
You would’ve just to stand there quiet
And stretching your hands up stand upright
We’ll take you to the land of clouds’;

I tell them , ‘ Mother is there at home
Looking forward to meet me
How can I leave her
Only to see
Your fantasy?’

Hearing this, O mother,
How they go afloat
Only giggling;

Instead mother, I will be the clouds
And you wilt the moon be,
By my arms will you I embrace
We will make the sky on the terrace;

All those angels who live in waves
How me they call, how they call me
Saying, ( after rising from the blue blue sea)
‘ We only sing from the very beginning
Of the day,
We sing for all who want to be jocund and gay’;

They say , ‘ To which country do we go
No one that does really know’ ;

And I to them tell , ‘ How can I go?’
They ask me, ‘ why can’t you come to the ghat’s end
There standing quiet , closing your eyes
You should us call,
And we’ll take you sure
To the land of waves pure’ ;

I to them tell, ‘ Mother mine always me calls
When the day ends and the evening does fall,
How can I her so , for you leave?’

Hearing this, O mother
How they go afloat
Only giggling;

Instead mother, will I the wave be
And you a farway country,
I will go to sleep
On thy lap,
And no one will find us
With You in glory
Will I bask.

(* note : it is a transliteration of a poem of Rabindranath Tagore, titled ‘ মাতৃবৎসল’ / ‘ Matribotsol’ , as can be found in page number 39, Collected Works/ রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি, volume two, Birth Centenary edition. )


At what point of time
Know not me
Out of the infinite depth of sea
Of immense creativity
Rose Two;
One , the angel of heaven
The Goddess with splendour
Who could incite desire
And the other
The Goddess of Goodwill
And compassion
Filled with Love-
The primary potion
The Goddess of Heaven,

One meditation broke
Filling the cup
With laughter and fire
Putting desire
Of beauty
Purely ‘ falguni’,
She gave rise to songs
Of springs, of youth,
Which could never be kept at bay
For long,

(Like that flowery chants

Which come out spontaneous

From intoxicated hearts)

She took away sleep,
Made the bud of rose
To turn sanguine, red
Where passion is always bred;

The Other how returned
With tears of dew
Pouring forth
That serene feel
Of finding morning of life, renewed;
How She returned
With the sky full of bless
How She made all to smile
Finding solace, in self contentment;

How She had all brought
To that sublime thought
Where all could find
How the pristine could bind
All at that meeting point
Of life and death,
How She had ushered in the eternal
The songs of seasons, the autumn,( the fall,)
How She had implanted that pure
Where we can only by Devotion lured.

{*note: it is a transliteration of a poem / song number 23, of Rabindranath Tagore, as can be found in ‘ Balaka’ ( বলাকা) section of his Collected Works/ রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি, volume two, page number 500.}

Child O my child
Playing with dust
How you spend
Your day without end;
I just smile
Seeing you thus
Playing with bunch of grass;

And I remain how
With books and copies
My mind I rake
My soul I plough;
The copies I fill
With drawings and sketches
Moments of time I seal;

Child O my child
Playing with dust
How have I forgotten
Many little things;
Where could I get
Toys , thinking about them
How I have lost in the game
How go I searching in vain
Gold and silver how I gather
False (thinking thy name);

And You, the Child
How you do create
Whatever in hands thine
You with ease get,

And I how spend time
Wishing to get
Which is not in my fate;

How do i go beyond
The implausible
How by that
Do I turn a song, (a fable,)
How do I on the river of dreams
Float my boat ( as it seems).

{*note: it is a transliteration of a song/ poem of Rabindranath Tagore, titled ‘নির্লিপ্ত ‘ ( Nirlipto) as can be found in ‘ শিশু’ ( Shishu) section of Collected Works/ রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি, volume two, Birth Centenary edition. }


My freedom lies in the lighted sky

My freedom doth in dust and grass lie;

How I lose my self beyond the body and mind
In songs my liberty how do I oft find;
My freedom , in the minds of all , lies
In works hard which dangers and plight trivialise;

In the Lord’s sacrificial fire how my self I free
As if in that self annihilation I always find Thee.

(*note: this poem is a transliteration of a song/ poem of Rabindranath Tagore, )

Have not the courage to be
A small child so
With old age how I grow;
Try to save trivial things
With them boxes how I fill
Full upto brim;
Yesterday’s thoughts
How come today
How they brought
Tomorrow’s burden;
How that quest never ends
As I keep on the search
Those have I gathered
How discover I
Have no value
(So do I search
For eternity);

Being afraid of future
Can’t get to see
Where doth the path lie
Day after tomorrow
(Where wilt I be)
Future will remain
In future such
When wilt the holiday
Come with mirth?

Try to light up
My mind’s candle
Which just flickers
In the breeze and does tell
To walk me tip toeing;
So many people
So many friends
They advice bring,
So many little things
Nitty gritty they send
( how I take the path
That goes by without bends);

Come there that assurance
Again in me ,
To find that child
Within my mind’s sea;
Let there be that breeze
Which can touch my sails
As I wish to go floating
Without fail(s);

Wish to go beyond
The future so
That can I see
The present through;

At the terrace
At the bank of pond,
How I wish to learn
The unknown , Unbound;

(*note: it is a transliteration of first three stanzas of a poem of Rabindranath Tagore, as can be found in volume two, collected works/ রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি, birth centenary edition);
Mother, if thou have been the sky
And the champa tree, I,
With you without words
Would’ve I conversed;

The breeze from thou
Touching branches mine
Would’ve called me
With tunes for a dance, to thee;

Without words how can I
Pay heed to calls thine,
so my words doth fly
Falling on the leaves that shine;

Thy light to my dewy drenched soul
Would have whispered and told
Upon, making me sing
A song of joy (perhaps
As it would bring);

Then I would have made
All my buds to bloom pure
As they would have said
All the words, dancing sure;

The shadow of thy cloud
Floating in from somewhere
Touching mine for a while
Would again go away like a feather;

It would then become
That fanciful tale
And story of that prince
Who had gone beyond
kingdoms several;

He would have told me
Where lied that vine
Where lived the sea monster
Where the princess with beauty
Did everything bind;

Would have seen
those teary eyes
Of the queen
Heaving a sigh
And my leaf would
Tremble too
Seeing that
Heart rending view;

Then all of a sudden
Whence the rain
Would catch
The breeze even,
The drops of water
Would then dance
On my leaves
All by rhythmic chance;

They would then become
Thy recitation
Of Ramayana , epical,
They would then turn
The rains that fall;

Mother, if Thou hath been
That blue colored one
And me, a child small,
Thou would have been
The smile of the light
And me would just be
A trembling leaf
at thy sight;

You would have
From the sky
Opened your eyes,
And stretching hands I
Would just sing (for eternity);

Thou would be then
The starry night
(Not a feign)
And would I
Just give a try
To make flowers
Bloom everyday
( in words , stories and lays)

(* note: it is a transliteration of a poem of Rabindranath Tagore as can be found in page 609, vol.two, collected works/ রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি , birth centenary edition.)
Onto white and pristine sails
whence the mild breeze touch,
Never seen rowing of the Boat such;
From which land beyond the seas
Which treasure it brings never ceased,
With it the mind wishes to float,
And wishes to leave all desires and wants,
(Singing perhaps Thy songs with ease
As they come out from throat)

How the stream keeps on falling,
How the rumble can be heard,
How the ray of lighted beams
Comes through the clouds unbarred;

O Thou the Boatman, who art Thou, whose laughter and tears
by thy boat You tow,
How mind mine thinks of thee-
With which tune You would string
the day’s song ( giving it a meaning)
Which prayer would be sung (for long).

(* note: it is a transliteration of a song/ poem of Rabindranath Tagore, as can be found in collected works/ রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি,
song number 145, volume four, birth centenary edition.)

Never tried to know Thou still mind mine moves to thee
Never knowing Thou the World still rests in Thee,
Thy immense Beauty who had felt true
That sweetness eternal and new-
How have I given my soul to thee
So unknowingly,
Thou art the light of luminosity,
I am blinded in the darkness,
Thou art free , epitome of liberty,
I am immersed in that shoreless sea,
Thou art endless, I am so tiny, beggarly-
How we meet by wonder , You and me.

( * note: it is a transliteration of a poem of Rabindranath Tagore , as can be found in collected works / রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি , volume four, page 650, song/poem number 48. )
How many times have I thought
To feet thine should’ve my heart brought,

Holding thy feet, friend mine, will express
How much do I love thee in secret,

Thought as Thou hath been the God of Heaven
How could a mere mortal like me say my love even,

Thought will live at a distance from thee
All through my life will just remain a devotee,

No one wilt know my love so deep
No one wilt see where my tears me keep,

Now today whence Thou hath arrived to ask
How can I say how much Thou do I love.

( * Note: it is a transliteration of a song written by Rabindranath Tagore, included in ‘ প্রেম ও প্রকৃতি ‘ / Love and Nature section of his collected works, volume four, birth centenary edition, page 675.)
Told her , ” Queen
So many poets have come to thee
(Crossing lands and seas)
To put gifts at thy feet
I have also hearing that
Come to sing like the bird at thy door
Morning as songs pour”;

The Queen came to window
Veiled as she and said,
” Now that is winter,
Sky mine is filled with mist
Garden has no blossoms”;

Told her, ” Queen
Beyond that sea brought for thee
My music, my flute,
Can you not unveil thy face
Only wish to trace
Light in eyes thine”;

She said , ” I have not put on colorful dress today,
Hey poet, impatient, please go back
When the sweetness of falgun would come
I will you beckon,
When will I sit on blossoms,
I will ask you to come and sit
Just by my side
(As we would see the beauty thence
And have a treat);

Told her , ” Queen
I think this journey
Has been by thee
Turned fruitful
For have I heard
Songs of hopes full;
In the mild breeze of spring
Inviting thee to my garden
in blooming flowers
Thou will I see;
On that day of succulent joy
Filled by fragrance thine
Will I find my path to that window thine
Thence will with thee come good times mine;
Today while going away will I be singing true
Songs only hailing thee”.

(* note : this poem is a transliteration of a poem of Rabindranath Tagore titled ‘ইটালিয়া’ / ‘ Italia’ as can be found in page number 727- 728 , Collected Works / রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি, volume two, Birth Centenary edition. )

Who art thou
Who people doth ferry!
And I sitting at the door
See how you take
People from one ghat
To another,
You ferryman smart!
Whence the day ends
And men , women , children
From the market come to you
How I also think of rushing to thee
You, the ferryman, how you I see
(And think why can’t you ferry me!)

At the twilight hours
How you take your boat
To the other side
Seeing that how a tune strikes
The chord of my heart
And how do for you I sing!
You, the ferryman, how you people
From distant lands bring!
On the waters, how the golden hue
From the other side
Silken patterns drew,
And how in my eyes
They twinkle with longings due
Enveloping my heart, my soul,
O You, the ferryman bold!

Seen how You speak not a word
You the Ferryman, my heart’s joy, The Lord!
Try to find, what is there written in Thy eyes,
If by chance, Thy eyes,
Upon my countenance lies
How do I feel to go
Ferryman, only to Thou!

(*note: it is a transliteration of a poem of Rabindranath Tagore titled ‘ খেয়া’ /’ Kheya’, as can be found in page number 212, Collected Works/রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি, volume two, Birth Centenary edition. )
If it is a holiday
Float on water
Boat mine
Made of paper;
Write on it
In words
My name
The street
The ville
Names such
In bold alphabets
Before the boat
Do i set
If it would reach
Someone’s hand
He would know
From which land
The boat had come
Sailing so;

The boat mine
How do i decorate
With ‘ shiuli ‘ and ‘bokul’,
In the garden
Early morn
How the blossoms
Gather and fall
Under the trees
And with dews
On their lips
How do they glitter
As the light of the morn
Piercing winter
Set them with beauty;

And that little boat
How goes with flowers
Towards the end of the day
Whence it reaches the bay
It there how delivers
Those ‘ shiuli’ and ‘bokul’ flowers,

Floating my boat on water
How do i just sit and stare
At it, little waves whence rise and fall
The light of the sun whence shine on them all,
The birds giving calls how go away flying
The mild breeze whence blowing saying
How the day has come again after night
( O how do I with dreams wish to take a flight!);

How little cloudlets float in the sky
Like my little boat how they fly
How they go away , in the ocean of light
To which land , to which country them, people sight,
Those cloudlets and my little boat
How they just haply with each other vie;

At the twilight how they pull me out of home
How with them do I feel the presence of the awesome,
To which village, goes floating my boat
No one knows where it wilt go afloat;
No one stops it , no one compels,
How my boat just goes where it wishes to sail,
Goes it to newer lands, newer seas,
The paper boat mine how goes on unceased,
And rowing with it how does mind mine also go
To newer discoveries how the boat I row;

(*note : it is a transliteration of a poem by Rabindranath Tagore titled ‘কাগজের নৌকা’ / Paper Boat, as can be found in page 61-62, volume two, ‘ শিশু’ / Shishu section , Collected Works / রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি, Birth Centenary edition. )

That boat of Madhu the boatman
Is left tied at the ghat of Rajganj
No one is taking it
As it is filled with jute raw;
If they would give me that
I would attach hundred oars
To it would fly sails four five six-
Would I not with it float
Selling wares , instead would I
Go even if for once
Away voyaging
Seven seas thirteen rivers, just sailing;

Then You should not cry, sitting
At the corner of the hut, lone,
Iwould not go away like Rama
For fourteen years to some forest;

Iwould go like a prince
Carrying wealth in the boat
Would take Ashu and Shyam with me
Would we go sailing, we three;
Would go for once voyaging
Seven seas thirteen rivers crossing;

At the morn would set the boat free
And how it would go all by itself (to the sea),
At the noon You would be
At the bank of the pond
Then we would’ve new kingdom found;

Would go beyond that ghat of Tirpurni
Would go beyond that faraway land,
It would take the whole day for me
To come back to thee,
At the twilight hours surely would
Tell You stories where I had gone
Sitting on thy lap,

Only would I go for once
Crossing seven seas thirteen rivers.

{*note : it is a translation/ transliteration of a poem titled ‘ Noukajatra’ ( নৌকাযাত্রা), as can be found at page 31, volume two, ‘ Shishu’ ( শিশু) section, Collected Works/ রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি, Birth Centenary edition. }
There’s no end to my devotion to thee,
whence in You do I see,
all my wishes and desires
(Melting into tranquility);

This search, is it for fruits?
(Or for corns? )
Nay for that wilt be
Taking away me
From thee,
(Can never carry that burden
If I think only of fruits,
coming to me sudden),
Instead leaving the fruits
Do I soulful sing,
To make buds bloom;

Thus in my life comes
That eagerness like a balm,
Which brings new pains
With newer creative sense;

Once do I get things I wish
They with time only diminish
And I (opening to thy sky)
Stretch my hands again
To get more of thy perpetual music
Thy perennial sense that sticks,

And how that keeps on
Me getting Thy ambrosaic potion
And I turning them to songs.

(*note: it is a transliteration of poem/ song number 37, as can be found in page number 411, Collected Works/ রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি , Birth Centenary edition. )
If thou hath reached the shore
Leave thy oar
Take my hands instead
For moments make me sit
By thy side ( for a treat)
For moments few
Make me sit
On the meadows (drenched by dew),
The night has got blown away
By the waves, as arrives the day;

Thou the Boatman,
If my home is not far away
If the tune of homecoming
Holds over me the sway,
With the arrival of the morn,
Just that music Thou play
Which upholds the song
Of the road at that root of the tree
( as my home do I see
Arriving at that step of door)

Thou the Boatman
If Thou hath reached the shore
Leave thy oar
And take my hands instead.

( *note: it is a transliteration of a poem/ song of Rabindranath Tagore, number 66, as can be found in page 429, volume two, Collected Works/ রবীন্দ্ররচনাবলি, Birth Centenary edition)
Where does this path go,
Who that does really know,
To the foot of which hill,
To which sea coast
To which wish implausible
Who does that really know;

Who travels to and fro
Through this road , who goes
Who does that know,
How are His songs,
What smile doth He carry for long,
For which quest does he go
Who that does really know.

{* note: it is a transliteration of a poem of Rabindranath Tagore, as can be found in collected works, birth centenary edition, volume four, page 123, included in ‘ পূজা ‘ ( worship) section.}
Breaking the key to my home, who wilt take me
O friend mine!
Without seeing thou, canst live life so lone;

Perhaps the night has ended
Perhaps the sun has sent rays,
Thy soft pinkish morning’s glow
On the sky blue how doth show-
There can see the path ahead,
Wilt not thy chariot reach my door?

All those stars of the sky
How stare momentless
As they beside the night
and dawn’s path take rest,
Seeing thou they wilt leaving all
Into the luminous sea take a fall;

All those pilgrims of the morn
Perhaps they have come like birds-
Singing songs of mirth, in flocks,
Perhaps the flower has bloomed,
Perhaps the music has arisen
In thy lyre of the sky ( of this season).

( * Note: it is a transliteration of a song of Rabindranath Tagore, as can be found in collected works, birth centenary edition, page 22, volume four.)
There the Palm Tree stands on leg one,
Surpassing every tree,
Peeping to the Sky of Thee,
Having the wish, piercing the clouds dark, up there,
Thinking where from wilt she get the free air,

So She just over her head
Her wishes hath She bred,
Thinking all those Dreams of her, near the sky,
Can,at least away,from Home,someway, fly;

Her leaves how tremble all day long,
How her dreams, fly, to where(the Sky) they belong,
As if, evading those Stars, wilt they go, lone,
Catching the air, to where Her dreams the Palm hath sown,

But whence, the breeze ceases, true,
And the murmur stops too,
Those Dreams of Her, doth return,
To the Motherly Earth of her,
Loving more her deep, loving more , the Mother.

(*Note: based on a poem written for children by Rabindranath Tagore, )
Can’t remember mother mine;
Only whilst playing
All of a sudden unnecessarily
A tune rings in my ears,
Then thoughts of mother mine
With my games intertwine;
She probably used to sing
Rocking the cradle-
She had gone away
But left the song subtle;

Can’t remember mother mine;
Only when in morns of ashwin
Carried by the dew drenched breeze
Comes the fragrance of sheuli,
Then don’t know why mother mine
Comes to my mind;
Probably she used to bring
Blossoms such in basket-
So the smell of puja
Comes to me as smell of mother ;

Can’t remember mother mine;
Only while sitting at one corner of bedroom
Try to look out through the window
Towards the sky azure,
Then get the feel of mother mine
Staring at me simply
Like the way she
used to look at me
Many many years ago
Holding me in her arms-
She had left that stare
All over the sky.

(Transliteration of a poem by Tagore)

Across the world in tune generous
Song of mirth soars
When will that song in
Depth of heart ring ,
Only the Lord knows,

The air, water, sky and the light
When will love them the best,
They will take seat on heart allright,
Wearing varied colored dress;

When will open eyes
To fill the mind glad
Will take path thine,
Leaving none sad,

That You art there
When in life that will sing,
Thy name will in every work
Only happiness bring.

(* a transliteration of song number fifteen, Gitanjali, )
Who plays the flute in me?
Who fills me with,
mirth and melancholy?
Why the tune of flowers on bloom,
fills my soul’s little room?
Why does the breeze flow,
in such a way, so much perfumed?
Why is this abrupt rise,
Of a desire in my eyes?
Why my words do take the form,
Of a curious fiery oath?
Why is there a flood of scriptures,
In my heart, breaking forth?
Why is there such a dare
Of words long confined, to come out bare?

(Note: it is a transliteration of poem, from Collected works of Rabindranath Tagore, Birth centenary edition, vol.4,pg 312)
Which tune rings in me,I know, knows my soul,
Which keeps me for days awake,
From whom what I get as deliverance,
Why I stare at the path of the sky,
Why on door mine morn leaves a dye,
Why evening sings a wooded dense song,
How Thy flute keeps me entombed,
Keeping me from all banal works, torn,
I know, knows my Soul.

(Note: it is a transliteration of a short poem,from collected works of Rabindranath Tagore, vol, 4, pg 301, Birth centenary edition, )

There canst be any end to your gift,veritable,
The blood which flows down my veins, eternal, a fable,
You hath given me the gold of Sun, the dazzle of stars,the silver of Moon,
Making my life as blessed as your never ending boon.

(Note: it is a transliteration of a short poem by Rabindranath Tagore, titled ‘Matribondona’, )


There’s no end of works for Soudamini. Be in winter, summer or monsoon. She would have to wake up as early as four thirty or five, then would have to go to the shed first. Then she would give grains and straws to her flock of hens, goats.
After that she would start sweeping the yard with broom.
If it is winter or summer her works remain simple, just to broom.
If it is monsoon, there is no need to sweep though.
After that she would have to go wake up her sons and daughters.
They would try to wriggle on the cot.
But Soudamini would never stop from waking them up.
Her husband, Haran, would go to the fields, waking up even before her. His mind was always with his fields and cows.
If he could, he would go and sleep in the paddy field which he owned.
He loved his one acre land of paddy field the most. The mahajans, the zaminders, and now the merchants- they all tried to snatch that land from him. But they could not do that from Haran’s father.
They could not take that from him as well.

The one acre land.

Haran’s only Love.

Soudamini, on the contrary, had never shown love to anything, barring working till morn to night.
She would gather stray leaves of coconut and twigs to tend fire in the earthen chulla. She would cook rice and lentils.
She would send her children to the primary school some two miles away from their hut. She would, in a small bag, pack puffed rice and a bit of vegetables or grounded flour for her four children.
After sending them to school, she would take the cloths heaped on the floor of their hut, to the nearby pond.
After washing those clothes and bathing, she would come back home with a pitcher of water.
When she would return, her husband, she would find sitting at the dawa.
She would hurriedly serve him the meagre food she had cooked.
Haran would take the food and go away to the field.
An acre land of his love, the paddy fields.

By that time the children, coming home would start playing at the yard.
Soudamini would watch them, sitting at the dawa, resting her body against the bamboo pole that supported the thatched roof.

At dusk Haran would return with his cows.
Soudamini would take the cows to the shed. Feed the cows, tend them, tend the flocks of hens and goats.

At the evening, after tapers would be lighted at the tulsi manch, Soudamini would go near her earthen chulla again.
There she would have to cook food for her children and husband, if there were something to cook.

If not, she would still go there, to boil something. The vegetables or the grains of rice.
She would eat after all were served.
And she would sleep after all would have slept.
That’s Soudamini.
The mother.
Soudamini had never expressed her love though.
For anything in her life.

A flight of an immense mind

Flights from My Terrace
The Boy in Yellow Knickers and Other Essays
ISBN 978-93-5207-***-*
Publisher : Authorspress

Very rarely we have found essayists who could put into their works daily events of life for the reason essays are always parenthesized as something which should be pedantic, erudite, stirring our thoughts and grey cells with ideas that make us ponder and debate and discuss. Essays carry no slightest touch of poetry, usually, if not we are reading someone like Charles Lamb.

And Santosh Bakaya has written essays which are like stories. They are filled with events of life, very subjective and by doing so she has gone beyond the traditional idea of essays being objective and unwittingly readers can still relate to that subjective and personal view as expressed in the essays for they have that quality of engaging the readers, that quality which stories have .

The very first one, ‘ Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive’ begins with opening up of an immense mind to the beauty of nature and also to that understanding of how mind and heart work at tandem to gather that beauty specially in case of a writer and poet.

‘ As I sat in my chair looking up at the aqua sky, the birds flocking to and fro , I heard a chugging sound…’

Unbelievably poetic as the description is, it at once brings to the readers, the eternal show of nature which keeps on happening all the time around us. Gradually as we move on with the essays we come across snippets of our daily lives, our houses, our furniture, our parents, siblings, children, spouses, maids, newspaper vendors and hundreds of people we meet on streets, at parks, at cafes.

The author has put them all in and has done so with such succulent ease that the readers simply forget whether they are actually reading essays. They get the feel of mornings, afternoons, evenings, nights of different seasons of years. Nature and people as in real life create our lives, in a similar fashion the essays reflect life as if they create life through words.

In ‘ The boy with the crutch’ we get a vivid empathetic mind finding rhythm in the boy’s ‘stumbling tumbling tripping limping haste towards a runaway kite’. We at once picture a scene , as if a clipping of a movie being cast infront of our eyes.

So fluid is the movement of incidents, so dynamic is the structure of the essayist’s keenness , that we continue to savour the little things of our lives through the essays which perhaps we oft overlook in our real life.

There lies Santosh Bakaya’s strength.

She brings us back to life and to its little pieces of happiness as embodied in scenes or events which we all witness in our lives in one way or other but oft fail to gather them.

For example , think of the graphic description of a policeman in ‘The power of the baton’.

‘He had gaps in his front teeth and he appeared to be whistling out the words’.

We at once relate to the scene or to the character. We are reminded of people around us who talk as if whistling out words. So from a very subjective experience the essays move towards objective views.

Add to that the poetic fervour that always keeps the words into a musical flow.

‘ to slippery chunks of joy, passed and gone, like the disappearing dewdrops on a verdant lawn’

( In the blink of an eye)

We find rhythm, we find movement, we find cadence. We find moments.

And as in our daily lives we sing or dance or watch movies or go out for tours, the essays also bring them all.

They take us to discover the variety of life and its pied hues.

If in ‘The two guys’ we are amused by the conversation between an Indian and a Frenchman , in ‘Love in the air’ we find an elderly couple sitting at a place beside a group of youngsters and how by a simple act of kindness the old man gives a lesson on love to the youngsters.

Yes, lessons are there in the essays and they are being given with that beautiful subtlety which never makes the essays pedantic or didactic.

A poetic view of life or a writer’s view of life is what the essays bring forth and they give us that with abundant music. They ennoble us. They make us keen. They make us make out more our life.

Yimli’s Eyes of Buddha

‘Then what happened?’ Suparna asked Yimli.

Yimli was busy making noodles in her big pot.

At the counter there were two people, foreigners, backpackers.

Suparna cast a look at them. They were talking in English though the accent was different. Guttaral.

‘They might be Germans…’

Yimli’s husband, Butsugen was bringing in logs upon his shoulders from the barn.

Late October, the nip in the air was catching in. The morning had a feel of cosiness.

Suparna’s husband had not yet woken up.

Suparna also didn’t wake him up. She wanted to get the feel of the place all by her own.

Being an editor of a magazine on women’s issues, she was always on the lookout to find real-life stories.

Yimli’s face had a big scar. Running across from her right ear lobe end to chin. It had almost smoothened but the scar could be visible if anyone could see her face up close.

‘And then what? I ran away from him…’ Yimli said.

‘He didn’t look for you?’

‘How can a husband look for his wife if he had performed no duty to her other than those rituals related to bed time?’

Yimli was straight.

Suparna smiled.

‘Brave girl you are! But how got this scar across your face?’

Hearing this query, Yimli’s face suddenly lit up. She even blushed.

Suparna was perplexed. How can one blush and get lit up talking about a big scar on one’s face? She thought.

Yimli stirred the noodles. They had softened. She started pouring the noodles with a ladle upon a sieve. Water started dripping. Steam started coming out.

‘That’s how I met him…’ Yimli blushed again.

This time she looked at Butsugen.

‘Tell me, tell me!’

Suparna became excited.

‘I was running through the wilderness all day, not knowing where I was going… I only felt that I would have to somehow escape from that hell…the hell where he came drunk every night and beat me up if I refused to perform for him that bedtime thing… He was a beast…’

Yimli paused.

She became absentminded for awhile.

‘Then?’ Suparna asked.

Prodded by her, Yimli restarted the narrative.

‘Then suddenly from nowhere a mountain bear pounced upon me…I am not sure whether I stumbled upon it or it jumped at me…but it happened…its sharp claws I felt running through my skin, face. I thought I would be dead. I was so much astounded and puzzled that I couldn’t even shout out. Then he came with his axe and with it took a big swing and rammed it on the head of the bear, using it as a club. The bear, to my amazement, fell to the ground, as if it went dizzy.

Butsugen took me up and took me to his hut. His mother and sister were there.

They took care of me using herbs…And…and I never left Butsugen after that…’ Yimli said.

The noodles had drained out the water.

She took a cotton cloth and put the noodles on it, spreading its strands using a flat wooden spatula.

‘How much do you love your Butsugen?’ Suparna asked.

‘A little bit more than my own heart…’ Yimli said, flashing a cute smile.

She was blushing again.

Suparna looked at Butsugen.

He had started serving meals to the backpackers. His face had a tinge of simplicity and fulfilment.

At least Suparna felt that, after hearing his act of saving Yimli.

‘What is the meaning of Butsugen, in your language?’ Suparna asked Yimli.

‘Buddha’s eyes.’

Yimli said as she got busy spreading the strands of noodles on the cotton cloth.

They were to be cooked soon for within half an hour the counter would have people. Tourists, travellers, backpackers, honeymooners, monks and drivers.