Translated by Kingshuk Sarkar
Where’s Attila? Where, that
tempestuous Hun emperor?
Where’s his curved sword, the gold crown? Where,
the blade of his spear?
On seeing grey dust-clouds on the horizon
terrified crowds would shout – “There’s Attila. There
comes his stallion”.
Then the plain would soak in blood,
the soil - slithery with crimson curd.
Some leftovers would remain by the wayside –
a severed family (faces covered), a few muffled cries.
Job done, the flag-bearing stallion would gallop on.
Now, on the quiet plain blue shadows blend with the sky.
Attila’s stallion has gone that way. How far? How far
has he gone?
A Realization near the Science College
Radiant love like Radium
had once illuminated the dark deep inside of the heart.
But time didn’t leave it undisturbed…
particles left the centre…
radiation gave birth to glum helium!
Where’s that love, that face, that nascent name?
Now, everything is grey lead, disintegrated
by the laws that governed.
Only the unbearable weight of pure pain
rests on my chest!
When the blue worm turns foe the red lays it to waste.
From what remains a black worm rises whose head
in turn is torn and devoured by a brown one!
Worms are stubbornly alike when it comes to the self.
Worms, worms, an unending procession of worms on every side –
on land, in water, on streets, on highways, worms of every
colour and size.
There’s no yardstick to measure which is dumb and which is wise
everyone is same when it comes to violence and malice.
On every side drop-worms drop into time’s abyss
yet all the time tiny worms try to get big!
At one end, a violet worm catches them in a wink
at the other, other worms rise and sink.
Gently, I touch the river’s breast.
She roughly removes my hand, hissing in the darkness.
The room is tense. The darkness – palpable, dense.
Luckily, my moment of disgrace didn’t have a witness.
The river has calmed and shifted a bit
the skylight now is bluish, sky-lit.
It’s dawn. I’ve to get up but I promise
to pay back in the same coin I’ve been paid with.
Suddenly, a tug. Turning, startled –
A flood! Oh, what a flood!
Sambhunath Chattopadhyay -(1930 – 2018) lived the better
part of his life in Manirampur a small town on the outskirts of
Kolkata, India. Having chosen to remain outside the poetic
movements and fraternities of Bengal, Chattopadhyay never
received the limelight of his contemporaries. Neither was he
bothered about it. In an interview to ‘Prohor’, a Bengali
literary magazine, he remarked “I wander about alone like a
child enchanted by a scenery. I pick up whatever I find -
coloured feathers dropped by birds, wild red berries, ripe
tamarinds, a wild pigeon’s abandoned egg (could also be that of
a snake). These have been my life’s savings. When I leave, I’ll
leave them to the road. I’ll not look back to see if they ever
sparkled in the sunlight. This wandering life has given me more
than I could have asked for.” Sambhunath Chattopadhyay died in
November 2018, cared for by a young Bengali poet and his wife.
Kingshuk Sarkar works as a Spanish teacher and
translator. He has been involved in translating the poetry of
Federico Garcia Lorca, Juan Ramon Jimenez and Octavio Paz from
Spanish to Bengali. His translations of Lorca and Jimenez from
Spanish to Assamese have been published in ‘Satsori’ – an
Assamese literary magazine – in 2018. Four poems of Sambhunath
Chattopadhyay (translated from Bengali to English by him) have
been accepted for publication by an American literary magazine.