Niladri Gomes‘ translation of Subrata Gomes’ poem: Who knows what will happen (Bengali to English)

Who knows what will happen in the end!

I was standing at the bank of the meandering Rupnarayan,

By the time my eyes could reach the turn

Rupnarayan changed to Vidyadhari. 

At the turn, there is a village,

Shiuli used to live there.

One fine evening, Shiuli came bag and baggage.

“Let’s flee this place, somewhere very far,

There will be just the two of us”, she said.

“How can I leave?”, said I, 

” The river, the moon, and the sky are here,

How can I leave them?”

“But I can’t go back,” said she.

“See the dock?

The boatman has gone home,

The ferry is empty – we have a chance;

I am a girl from the land of rivers, 

I can sail it.

Come, just sit with me!”

I said, “No. I can’t.” 

Shiuli went down the dock, further down to the little ferry,

And sailed until she went out of sight. 

I came back. 

Vidyadhari sees its ebb and flow. 

The moon appears late at night, disappears on time.

How many skyscrapers do I have now around me?

I live in one of them; the breeze oozes in, 

Like the letter arrived. 

That’s a surprise! 

Who writes letters nowadays? 

The glasses went up after a moment of wiping.

“You don’t know what happened after that!

How many days, how many months I sailed.

I was clueless until I woke up to find many surrounding me.

“Who are you? Where will you go?”- they asked,

“I love someone”-said I, and they didn’t ask any further.

They told me, “Can you teach us to love?”

“Yes,” said I, and since then, 

I have been teaching in their school of love.

I have told them, don’t search for tears in the eyes, 

Tears and hunger have their own smell.   

So could you not use your eyes to search for them?

They now recognise all kinds of smells. 

Now when they smell tears, hunger, and agony, they gather.

There is a brook here,  a stream, the starry night, the moon,

They are all here. 

They presume all that I have learned about love are from you. 

Or else, how could I leave everything behind?

I have a neat house here. 

And a room for you too. 

I clean them myself, I decorate. 

They bring me flowers- the white ones. 

They know about your favourite smell..” 

Somebody knocked at the door. 

I had to switch, 

And the letter had to be left half-read.

Subrata Gomes is a retired mathematics teacher who writes articles, poems, direct plays and promotes non-formal education for the under privileged children. He and his friends also run a weekly school called Prangon where they teach mathematics, language and science.
Niladri is a physicist by training. Currently, he works in Berkley National Lab where they develop algorithms for next-gen (quantum) computers. He cares about human rights and likes interacting with people from diverse backgrounds to learn about their culture and tradition. He also likes hiking..

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