Children of Srinagar, Kashmir
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  Whether flowers bloom or not  

 Growing up
  Vol IV : issue 3

  Cover page
  Subhash Mukhopadhyay
  Lucy Nusseibeh
  Rajan Hoole
  Syed Mohammad Ashraf
  Vasant Abaji Dahake
  
Dilip Chitre
  Only in Print

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Subhash Mukhopadhyay

Whether flowers bloom or not

it’s spring today

 

On the paved footpath

with feet dipped in stone

a rather wooden tree

laughs out loud

chest bursting with fresh green leaves

Whether flowers bloom or not

it’s spring today.

 

The days of masking the sun

and then unmasking it

of laying people down in the lap of death

of picking them up again

those days that have passed this way

let them not return

That lad of many voices

who for a coin or two

would chirp like a koel down the street

in the ceremonial yellow of twilight

— those days have taken him away

 

With the sky like a red and yellow wedding invitation

on her head

clasping the railing to her breast

a dark and ugly unwed girl down this alley

played with such idle thoughts

Right then

there fluttered in, shamelessly, right onto her body,

oh damnation! A stupid, awful, foolish butterfly!*

Then the sound of a door slamming shut.

Hiding his face in the dark

that sinewy tree

was still laughing.

Acrylic on canvas by SHANU LAHIRI

Pupé

My daughter Pupé

whenever on the terrace

wants the big blue sky

in her tiny little hands

and if she’s denied,

just grabs it

As Pupé grows up

she’ll want other stuff

at fairs she’ll make a fuss

for a comb and looking-glass

However lazy I may be,

I know she won’t stay on with me

Then to put on sindoor one day

She may open her silver box

And suddenly she just may

Think, what is it that she’s lost?

So at that moment it may be

That she opens her clenched fist to see

And finds the big blue sky in there

Has vanished into thin air

That’s when she’s all grown up

My daughter Pupé

Acrylic on canvas by SHANU LAHIRI

The stride

Standing on one leg, arms reaching up

hair piled high in unkempt yogi knots

a tree peers down

and the more he sees the more he is amazed

The woman who goes door to door

baby on her hip

washing dishes

and at night

sleeps on a mat under a tree

the woman discarded by her husband

disdained even by death

Oh how shameful!

She’s pregnant again.

At the water tap

to cover up that shame

he toddles up carefully

to hand his mother the tattered sari

a tiny life crowned by shame

why, just the other day

he used to crawl on the pavement!

Which means

On this earth

one more pair of eyes

one more head held high

arms like the wings of a bird

swinging on either side

will stride through

feet firmly on the ground

Standing on one leg

forever in the same spot

the tree

with arms outstretched and hair in
yogi knots

peers down

and the more he sees the more he is amazed

Translated from the Bengali poems ‘Phool phutuk na phutuk’, ‘Pupé’ and ‘Dang dang korey’
by Antara Dev Sen

 
 
Best loved for his sharp social criticism through powerful lyrical poetry, Subhash Mukhopadhyay was an icon for left-wing poets and the rebellious youth in Bengal for generations. Honoured by the Jnanpith and Sahitya Akademi awards, he lived in Calcutta and wrote in Bengali. He passed away in July 2003