Two Poems by Ketaki Dutta

Back from Coma

Peregrinations on a plane called Earth,

Like the parachute, alighting on a dry land,

With all dreams cocooned in its womb;

Brought a wide smile on her face!

At least she could win the battle of existence,

Slipping off the main charter of diurnal reality,

Mixing up day and night in a beaker,

Stopping all conjectures and all snigger,

Jumping up from her comatose state

To be reinstated in the cycle of Life,

As a lost planet leaping up to its orbit

it was chucked out from,

Long, long ago.

 

Promises made to be Broken

 

Reason and unreason lay strewn on her way,

She waded gingerly through the clutter,

She cocked a snook at her foe,

She took her pal in a bear-hug,

She could not make out whether

To walk along the undulated way

Of unsure choices, not many,

Though held out to her in a platter!

She hesitated, she swooned,

She erased her presence off the

Map of being and nothingness,

Yet she came, breaking a promise

Of not coming back at all!

 

 Dr. Ketaki Datta is an Associate Professor of English, Bidhannagar College[Govt], Kolkata. She is a novelist, short story writer, critic and a translator. Her debut novel “A Bird Alone” has won rave reviews in India and abroad. Her poems have been published in anthologies published by Brian Wrixon, Canada and in Pangolin Review, books edited by Padmaja Iyengar and P. Gopichand and P. Nagasuseela. Her second novel “ One Year for Mourning” has been acclaimed, here and abroad. Sahitya Akademi has assigned her with the translation of “Dhruboputra”, a Sahitya Award winning Bengali novel by Amar Mitra , lately. She has a book of poems , “ Across the Blue Horizon” [Feedaread Publishers, UK, 2014].Her translations of short stories have been included in several national and international anthologies.

 

Translations by Huzaifa Pandit

Two poems by Abdul Satar ‘Ranjoor’

 

The caged bird: On the treaty of Amritsar (1846)

What does a fulfilled wish cost?

I wish a wish:

A caesura, a pause

An audience for my aggrieved tale.

A remedy for me

Behind policed bars.

 

I was a golden bird

My beauty was legendary

Eyes, ears and hearts captivated

Everyone would covet me.

 

I roamed gardens

of epics, old books and brochures of proposed luxury.

Fountains, fresh water springs, blossom, bulging boughs

Ripe fruit and vast green.

One day I was out as routine

When a meadow tempted me.

I felt at peace immediately.

 

I don’t recall

When the snare crept upon me.

A stupor had overcome me

No inkling of the forfeit

Reached me.

 

A loud whisper

Like a half spat gurgle awoke me

To prison: I’d been caged.

 

My captor peddled me:

Lock, stock and barrel.

The man who bought me

too took no pity on me.

 

Puddles of dull ache

accumulate in my knees.

Ropes bind my wings

Eyes blindfolded.

In prison, I lie listless –

A shrivelled cripple.

 

Kaleem’s tongue wrenched,

Deaf, dumb, blinded.

Starved of grain and water

I’m neglected, famished.

 

A foolish wish rustles in my sore chest:

I wish I’d flutter my wings

Like in old carefree days of yore.

Faint hope still flickers

A sip once more of blue freedom

trickling from the sun.

A kiss of soft spring

in the arms of sighing meadows.

 

Squeezed inside the cage

The bars bellow

prohibition to flutter.

All paths to escape shut.

My heart is sick

What dreadful misgivings haunt me!

 

How’d I plead?

Unkempt grief snuffs my voice.

My famished children weep,

My family left with nothing

But souvenirs of tragedy.

 

I have but one quality:

Every morning, I lay a golden egg.

Alas! But for this quality

I’d not have faced tragedy.

Master bought me cheap.

A few coins for the cage, a few for me.

All profits accrue to him

He siphons the fruit of my body.

 

His heart never melts with mercy

I plead each day for liberty.

He dangles a promise,

But rescinds

Cites concerns for my safety.

Meanwhile, another bastard

Advises him against my liberty.

 

He is my arch-enemy

Who advises him to ignore me

I only pray such travesty

Be engraved in his destiny.

He shares culpability

For spilling innocent blood.

He profits nothing from

Depriving me my liberty.

I wish

Smoke billowed from earth, one last time.

The sky toppled over, one last time.

 

Ranjoor, everyday

I am tormented

By starvation and contemplation.

Patience runs short now

Either decide my destiny

Or let me die and be free.

 

Thoughts on Kashmiristan

 

I address you my fellow Kashmiri

Take particular care

That you are sound of mind and body.

Scion of its soil, let nothing foil

Your dream of a flag fluttering free

Proclaiming Kashmiristan.

I hear you will sign

the decree of partition.

Read every article carefully

Be prepared beforehand.

Never lower your sight

from the pinnacle of glory.

I swear you by your land and people

Never forget their memory:

People whose houses are painted with penury.

Enemies surround you, they close in.

Look sharp! Keep your wits about you.

Be wary of dangers ahead and behind you.

Beware! This new-fangled friendship

Might make a fool out of you.

Beware!

Don’t take the nation’s boat out

The whirlpools will drown you.

Shed your stupor, stand guard, the storm descends

Light lamps of kindness, put on valour

Roar to the demons

Like a fierce lion out of his lair.

The enemy might know the terrain

Better than you.

Ranjoor if you profess to love serving people

Dedicate yourself, your plot and phrase

to your people.

 

(Abdul Sattar Ranjoor (born 12 October 1917, dead 23 March 1990) was a Kashmiri politician, and a renowned revolutionary poet and writer. He was a veteran leader of the Communist Party of India (CPI). and the founding state secretary of the party in Jammu and Kashmir.)

 

Ghazal by Ghulam Rasul Nazki

 

Yet again today, you rake

the subject of desires of my heart:

fresh tales of salting the wounds of my heart.

 

I waxed eloquent with my tale, you heard me

out patiently. Else, who in the world

listens to lovers pouring out their heart?

 

Relic of the garden –

Flower raised in garden’s shade

In deserts too, I speak of gardens

with a breeze in my heart.

 

You sculpted my idol, I followed

your lead. Ritual of idolatry

started right, thus, from Kabba’s heart.

 

The candle burnt and wept

all night. Till dawn, all conversation

revolved around the moth’s heart.

 

(Mir Ghulam Rasool Nazki (March 16, 1910 – April 16, 1998) was a prominent scholar, poet, writer, intellectual and broadcaster from Kashmir)

huzaifa2Huzaifa Pandit is the author of the recently published ‘‘Green is the Colour of Memory’ which won the first edition of Rhythm Divine Poets Chapbook Contest 2017. Born and raised in Kashmir, his poems alternate between despair, defiance, resistance and compliance as they seek to make sense of a world where his identity is outlawed. His inspirations in poetry can be guessed from the topic of his PhD: “Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Agha Shahid Ali and Mahmoud Darwish – Poetics of Resistance” at University of Kashmir. His poems, translations, interviews, essays and papers have been published in various journals like Indian Literature, PaperCuts, Life and Legends, Jaggery Lit, JLA India, Punch and Noble/Gas qtrly.

Poems by Nishi Pulugurtha

 

  1. RIGHT AND WRONG

Are we bothered about it anymore?

Small acts, idealism, fights, struggles,

Are we bothered any longer?

Do they really matter?

Yes, they do, they have to

A single act cannot dislodge what one feels

The timid sun’s ray does filter through

The seed breaks through the soil in a burst of green

Inspite of all disillusion, I find a reason to smile

I must find a reason to smile.

 

  1. LOSS

It is a usual, busy day by the river

People bathing at the ghat, praying by the river

Priests performing funeral obsequies

People dressed in white, hands folded

He utters mantras in a grave solemn tone

Paraphernalia all ready with him, he asks to do this and that

Mantras to be repeated, occasionally intersperses them with explanations

Explanations of how important the rites are

To me it was all over the moment the breath left the body

The living, breathing person, was no longer there

Just the still, lifeless body, a mere shadow of what had been

Present turning to past

I see a small boy, a boy six or seven

His teeth chattering, he must have had the obligatory dip in the river

His head tonsured, a reminder of the loss of a parent

An uncle asks him to stand in the sun as he was cold

The cold bothers him, he shivers for a while

The sun warms him up

His dear ones come and take him along

More rites and rituals to be done

He is too small to have seen all that, to have to go through all that

But then, rites and rituals are to be done.

The little boy standing in the sun, shivering

Still unaware of the fact that his life might be changed forever.

 

NISHI PULUDr. Nishi Pulugurtha is Head and Associate Professor in the department of English, Brahmananda Keshab Chandra College and has taught courses at West Bengal State University and Rabindra Bharati University. Her research areas are British Romantic literature, Postcolonial literature, Indian writing in English, literature of the diaspora and film. She is a creative writer and writes on travel, Alzheimer’s Disease, film, short stories and poetry. Her work has been published in The Statesman, Kolkata, in the anthology Tranquil Muse and online – Café Dissensus, Coldnoon, Queen Mob’s Tea House and Setu. She guest edited the June 2018 Issue of Café Dissensus on Travel.