English Poetry

Guddi

Chirag Jain

Translated from Hindi by Amrita Bera

Guddi’s father
during the office lunch hours
closes his eyes while
opening his tiffin box,
because he cannot look
at the chapattis,
bearing the brunt of
the holed tawa.
An honest clerk
cannot understand
the game of destiny,
that’s why he gulps down
the holed, burnt chapattis.
Guddi, most of the days
reaches late to the school
and she doesn’t make any
mistake in that.
Because the rules of the school are:-
For the late comer students
two lashes of staff were enough,
and for dirty uniform
even four lashes were less.
Utilizing her intelligence
Guddi saves herself from
the bonus lashes,
because the uniform supervisor
of the school, doesn’t check the
dresses of the students,
who came late.
Guddi’s mother
more than often
remains irritated.
The whole day she keeps grumbling.
For small-small things,
her heart keeps languishing.
When she feels herself helpless,
She keeps cursing Guddi & her father.
“Oh! God, never ever give
such a child to anyone.
Girl! Can’t you give me some poison?
Atleast I’ll be saved of screaming
the whole day.
Atleast I’ll be saved from fretting
for this family.
What a hell is this living?
Just giving rupees two thousand
for running the house,
He thinks he has done some
great thing.
He changes a pair of clothes
twice in a week.
As if his father and ancestors
are running factories.
So is the off spring
As if under the spell of a witch,
while cleaning the utensils,
scrubs the tawa hard with
the piece of brick.
All this rubbing has made holes
in the tawa.
She doesn’t realize
a tawa is a tawa,
but it’s our destiny
Which is bleak as the black colour.”
When I watch this standing far
I find poverty – the demon Sursa
Who has swallowed the motherly
feelings of a mother.
The nails of adversities have nailed,
the childhood of an innocent child, forever.
Guddi fearing her mother
Covers the torn chunni (scarf)
Into it’s folds.
Mother hides the poverty of the house
Into the barely covering saree of hers.
Guddi’s father seeing all this
breaks down into pitiable sobs.
An honest clerk, in an offense of honesty
Can do nothing else than
Shedding tears.

Click here to read the original poetry in Hindi

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A scene

Neel

Translated from Hindi by Amrita Bera

First,
a purple sky
above my head

Then,
on my palm
a drop of rain

and now,
on my palm
is the purple sky.

Click here to read the original poetry in Hindi

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A lake in a river

Neel

Translated from Hindi by Amrita Bera

The path he takes,
the same way comes back
the boatman.

Everyday he brings
so many people to the shores
how much confined is a boatman,
between the boat
and the coasts of the river.

As if, there is a lake confined
within the river.
Even his oars are incapable
to drift him with the
flow of the river.
For him, the meaning
of a flowing river
is only to bring others to the shore.

That is why, he is a boatman,
confined to the boundaries
like a lake.

Click to read the Original Poetry in Hindi

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The Lamp

Neel

Translated from Hindi by Amrita Bera

The whole night it struggles
with the darkness,
fights for its own identity
for its own recognition,
but, it never complaints
about the storms, ranting winds
or the darkness,
who try to wipe out
the identity of the
flame of the lamp.

The lamp
keeps burning
for itself,
for others.

Click here to read original poetry in Hindi

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Butterflies

Neel

Translated from Hindi by Amrita Bera

I was small,
the butterflies used to
rove around me
flirtatiously eyeing me
as if I also had some fragrance,
as if my voice was laden with pollens.
I do not know
when this sequence
got broken,
when the chord of affection
got severed,

something like this
never happens now.
May be the butterflies
are grown up now.

Click here to read original poetry in Hindi

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Remote

Vivek Mishra

Translated from Hindi by Amrita Bera

Each day you
trampled her,
nothing of her
remained
concealed
from you.

You wrung
her being
to use her
to the optimum.

Living together
under one roof
you wrenched
even
her breaths
choking her
to the brim,
still
under oath
in your statement
you alleged that
her lack of
concomitance
cracked the relation.

What sort of
togetherness
you were
looking for?
You were
in the habit of
decorating
lifeless objects
in your home
and to
operate them
with a remote.

Perhaps it was
Her only
weakness
that
she was not
the toy
whom
you could
handle with
a remote.

Click here to read original poetry in Hindi

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Desire

Vivek Mishra

Translated from Hindi by Amrita Bera

In a big
courtyard
racing a
small bicycle,
round and round,
a child of seven
doesn’t know
which part
of the world
he is in.

He doesn’t know
since when,
the huge,
golden sphere
shining throughout
the dawn till dusk
is wandering
across the
sky blue ground,
hanging
upside down,
above his head.

He doesn’t
even know
from where do
suddenly
the machine birds
appear,
whizzing angrily
across the
sky blue ground
and drop
balls of fire
around his house

He only understands
this much,
that even after
so much
being effaced
around him,
he is the
only one
left with
two legs,
one bicycle
and the desire
to race it
fast,
round and round,
race it
fast
round and round.

Click here to read the original poetry in Hindi

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The Rickshaw – puller

Chirag Jain

Translated from Hindi by Amrita Bera

Alongwith the
fearful, timid wife
and three children
in a rented house,
lives the rickshaw-puller.

The children every evening
play a game, in which,
the train doesn’t whistle,
there is no hustle-bustle,
no run and catch,
there is no competition
to beat others,
there is no distinction
of high or low,
there is no secret to hide.
There is only one voice
“Fatehpuri – single passenger”.

A small child
folding the bottoms
of the old pant,
holding the handle of
the rickshaw,
shrieks in a loud voice
and his younger sister
becomes the passenger
and sits on the rear seat.

For some time,
kicking the pedals
here and there,
he spreads his
small, black hands
in front of his passenger,
the false rickshaw-puller.

According to the pre-planned program,
the passenger steps down and
according to her role,
gives the fake rickshaw-puller,
from her clenched fist,
a fake five rupee note
(which you get in a one rupee
packet of anise seeds).

Then enters in the game,
a third child.
holding a dry, dirty wooden stick,
just the way a policeman
holds his staff
in his ruthless hands.

He hits the tyres of the rickshaw
and scolds the rickshaw-puller
like a policeman.
He snatches the very first
income of the day,
the fake money,
from the fake rickshaw-puller,
a fake policeman,
just like the
real policeman.

Click here to read original poetry in Hindi

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Illiterate mother

Chirag Jain

Translated from Hindi by Amrita Bera

Busy in the kitchen,
mother, who had never
been to a school
cannot tell
how many 9 by 4 bricks
will be required
to erect a 10 feet wall.
But she knows very well,
when and how much
love is required
for a happy-loving family.

To know the area of a triangle
or to measure the density
of a liquid. In her words
is a Herculean task,
because she always measured
my chest with the number of
loops of the wool and by the
thickness of the knitting needles.

She doesn’t understand
to convert ‘A’ to ‘C’,
what has to be added or
subtracted to it?
But, she knows exactly
which formula to apply
to make the vegetable vendor
reduce the price of potatoes.

Cooking since ages,
she has never measured
the temperature of any
of the substances,
had never weighed vegetables
to cook a dish,
neither has she ever
weighed the fuel to
ignite the hearth.
She could just tell
by the aroma, how much
more to cook the millet porridge?

According to the income
of the house,
she always made the monthly list
of groceries.
Has taken out the ratio of income &
expenditure, created balance between
the empty containers, rate list & the
income of the house,
but any principles of economy
always remained beyond her perception.

She doesn’t understand
the harmony of sound and rhythm,
the seven notes of the sargam,
harsh, soft or shrill.
She doesn’t know the difference
between the sthai & antara
for practicing the notes,
she doesn’t even call any
music teacher to train
her vocals
but I, listening to her lullaby
fall into a sweet sleep.

She doesn’t know
who all had invaded India
and what all atrocities
they had done.
Who were the Aryans, Mughals & Mongols?
From where did they come?
She had never known
which race had brought
what to this country?
But she always remembers
how much my aunt from Nagpur
had spent to come to my place.

She could never decide
which symbol of which party
she should vote during the election.
But it is she, who always decides,
Which saree should go to
The sister of Jodhpur
During the Diwali.

My illiterate mother
is actually not illiterate.
During a conversation
She could always read
My father’s face
and assuming some tension
which could lead to some contention,
she could alter the direction of the
conversation.
Judging the time, place and person,
She could redirect everything
to a beautiful note.

If in pain, her concoction of
milk & turmeric would kill
all the pain,
a cotton wick soaked in
the mustard oil, she could
save you from all evil eyes.

The fragrance of her incense
would keep the whole house
fragrant, day & night.
Without doing any hard work,
the whole family would sleep
tired at night.
She, working the whole day,
thinking about the family wouldn’t
get a good night’s sleep.

True, no mother is illiterate.
They are clever,
because even after
accumulating many degrees,
a daughter has to learn from
her mother,
how to run a family?

Click here to read original poetry in Hindi

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Someone touches the heart

Sandhya Garg

Translated from Hindi by Amrita Bera

If only
someone touches the heart
without touching the body.

Heart,
which is buried somewhere
underneath the many layers
of this body.

Someone, who with a
magic wand
would touch the heart
and the heart would wake-up
like the princess of dreams.

And then
the story must end
just there only.

The princess of dreams
must not go away with
the prince with the magic wand.

Only the heart should wake-up and
create it’s own path,
wings of it’s own,
and it’s own sky.

Click here to read original poetry in Hindi

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