Exile Poems

Translated from Bengali by Arunava Sinha

Asking questions from a distance
Seems so very simple today.
Write down, poetry notebook,
My secret alphabet, laughter
And all the garlands of tears.

I planted you, starfruit tree
How are you today?
Have the books on the shelves
Been swept away by dust already?
Have my favourite cats forgotten me?
Will I never see them again?

With these questions in my head,
I stroll in the lanes after dark.
People popping up in my path are startled.
Perhaps I’m not a man, I’m a ghost.

The Chinese are celebrating their New Year,
They’re calling it the year of the rooster.
I don’t know how many ways I can try
To make the year meaningful,
To make myself and my writing significant.
I often answer my furtive questions to myself
With these words: I don’t know.

The sound of fingers drumming
On a bar. I see people trying
Different methods to hide their
Restlessness. They’re oppressed,
Unknown to themselves,
When the migratory birds
Still return home in the evening
I don’t know why I’m surprised.

Another day.
The oak tree in front of my house is a news channel,
Like radar, he captures the wind,
Blowing furiously from the distance.
It’s from him I get the first bulletin
Of the cold wave laden with news of storms.
To him committed birds come
Twice a day without fail.
The flowers bedeck him for marriage.
I watch in envy.

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