Monday, May 07, 2012

Small and Big

Here's my annual Tagore translation, on yet another birth anniversary of the poet. This one might seem a little concocted at places, since I lost my original translation in my hard drive crash and hurriedly had to cook up this version from what I remembered of my own translation. The original poem can be found here.

Small and Big
~Rabindranath Tagore

I am not grown up yet,
          I'm young hence I'm still small.
I'll be much bigger than big brother
          When like father I grow tall.
Then, if brother doesn't study,
Wants to play with his little birdie,
How I'll chastise him then!
           "Study quietly!" I'll scold.
"How naughty you are!" I'll say,
            When like father, I'm old.
      Brother's bird-cage I'll get,
      And keep little birds as pet.

When the clock goes past ten,
            I won't hurry for my bath.
With an umbrella on my head
            I will amble down the path.
Seeing my tutor on the porch
I'll call him to sit indoors.
If he asks, "Where's your slate?
             Don't delay, read your book."
I'll say, "I'm no longer a child,
             I'm as big as father, look."
       Hearing that, he'll say,
       "Then, Sir, I'll go away."

In the evening, when Bhulu comes,
             To take me to play in his tow,
I will scold him and say,
             "I'm working, don't make a row."
However crowded be the fair,
I'll go alone, without any fear.
If uncle comes running and says
                "You'll get lost! Ride me, son."
I'll tell him, "Uncle, don't you see,
                 Big as father I've grown!"
       Seeing that, uncle will say, "Wow!
       Our child is not so small now."

The day when I first grow up,
                  Mother, after her river-dip rite,
Comes wondering through the back door,
                  "Why is the house so quiet?"
Meanwhile I've learnt to use the keys
And I'm paying the maid as I please.
Mother, seeing this, will say,
                   "Child, your game is so wrong!"
I will say, "I'm paying her salary, mother,
                    Like father, I'm now big and strong.
          If we ran out of money, or food,
          Replenish it mother, I would."

In October, in the festival-break,
                   During Gajantala's annual fair,
Father's boat will come from afar,
                   And dock at the Babuganj pier.
Father, with his simple mind,
Will think his son's still a child.
Tiny shirts and shoes he'll buy,
               Give them to me and say, "Wear!"
I will say, "Let big brother don them,
               I am now as big as you there.
         That shirt is too small, don't you see?
          If I wear, it will be tight on me."

(Translation by Sugata Banerji)


  1. ami apekkha korchhilam. dhonyobad dhonyobad. mon bhore gelo.

  2. Atreyee: Thanks!

    Kuntala: Dhonyobad. apni apekkha korchhilen jene bhalo laglo.