Let me start with the dream. It isn't mine, it was Rabindranath Tagore's dream. The original Bengali poem is part of a collection of easy prose and poetry aimed at children learning to read. This is the poem that I chose for translating on Tagore's birthday this year. This was very different from the other Tagore poems that I have translated in recent times, and was great fun. The poem doesn't really have a name, but I decided to give it the title "The Dream" in my English translation. I decided to use the names Calcutta and Bombay instead of the more modern versions Kolkata and Mumbai since those were the names used during Tagore's time.
(Translated by Sugata Banerji)
The other night I had a dream
“Look! Look!” I heard Binu scream.
I looked and saw roof beams collide,
Calcutta on the go, nodding side-to-side.
The houses are rhinos made of brick
Doors and windows moving quick.
The roads, like pythons they crawl,
On their backs the tramcars fall.
Up and down go markets and shops.
Rooftops head-butt other rooftops.
The Howrah Bridge, giant centipede goes,
Harrison Road on its tail follows.
The Monument swings, an elephant crazed
Dancing, his trunk skyward raised.
Our schoolhouse runs with a clamor
The math book runs, so does grammar
The maps on the walls struggle and slap
Just like birds, when wings they flap.
The bell rings ding-dong swinging away—
Does not stop any hour of the day.
Millions of people say, “Stop please!”
“Wherefrom? Where to? This is craziness.”
Calcutta, busy going, ignores these calls—
Drunk with dance her pillars and walls.
I think to myself, worry there’s none,
To Bombay Calcutta can straight go on.
If Delhi, Lahore or Agra she’ll choose
I’ll wear a turban, put on jeweled shoes.
Or if today, to London she scoots
Like English folk, all would wear suits.
Then some noise made my sleep shatter
I saw, Calcutta was still in Calcutta.
Which brings us to the announcement. And that is very much mine.
My sleep is getting shattered by some noise or other every night now for the last two weeks, and so is my wife Poulami's. Unlike Tagore, we don't find our life restored to normalcy even when we wake up, because our dream has come true and has decided to live with us (while making all kinds of noises at all kinds of hours).
She is our daughter Shalmoli. She was born on April 25, 2018 at Lake Forest Hospital, approximately three weeks before her due date amidst a lot of drama. Shalmoli is the name of a flower that blooms in early summer in India on a dry, rugged-looking tree and contains letters from both my name and my wife's. Being a Bengali, she also has a nickname, and that nickname is formed by the last three letters of her official name. The nickname has a meaning too. Oli means bee in Bengali.
Oli also rhymes with Tuli, which is the name of my niece.
So right now, my parents are staying with us. They were supposed to arrive on the 26th anyway, and throw a baby shower for my wife on the 27th. Oli was born while they were in the air and the baby arrived on the day of the baby shower. Now I am finding it hard to do anything not strictly necessary (such as blogging), between the final exams week at the college, all kinds of extra work at home and pediatrician visits at, well, the pediatrician's office. Life has changed overnight - nothing is as easy as it was before.
And we're enjoying every moment of it.
|Shirt painted by me. Photos not taken by me.|