And We Open the Gates

By Devakanta Barua

A painting by Nicholas Roerich.
Is on my table.
It's title? 
Titled, “And we open the gates”.

Which gates?
The gate to the East or to the West?
Or Yama’s gate at the South, it suggests?
Or is it the Northern door of grand exit
That receives the great souls at the point of transit?

I'm Devakanta, the poet,
Past is the prime of my life.
Resting for a while by the roadside
I cherish dreams 
Of interminable ways
Ways of
Failures endless

Roars of laughter, fun and frolic
Spring in the recess hall and ring in my ears.
Where is the space for rest?
On the threshold of its closed passage
Crowd crash for a space.
Then where is the open gate?

I know, the rapturous rhythm of life
Makes my soul restless.
I know I'm bereft of all the ways
Other than being on the ways.
But would I have an open gate 
Where the journey ends?
Could I reach the grand entrance
In my soul's spell
Unlocking on its own
Welcome me with warm youthful embrace?

A long journey it was!
Riding the golden palanquin
In Peru with Inca.
A wild sojourn in Mexico
The wide vista of my youth
As daring as death
Soulful of offerings, I paid
Along with the longing souls
Of lovelorn handsome men
 And beautiful dancing maidens.

Dance of demons
Led the procession
To Nineveh’s winged bull, in celebration.
Into that too I plunged in wanton abandon,
Hanging garden at Babylon.
Inanna's temple—
Thousands throng at the threshold
With their longing for love.
I relished the elixir of love
Of princesses and Devdasis
To my heart's content.
Joined the prologue
To men and women’s mindless mirth
And carnival spirit
On the backdrop of marvelous Crete
Sea’s bosom exotic.
Such were the vagaries of my wandering spirit.
But where is the open gate?
Closed are all gateways!
On the heaps of books
The painting by Nicholas Roerich 
In stasis
Ushers in to the sole gateway
Open after all these listless vagaries.

Translated by Dr. Pori Hiloidari

Devakanta Barua (b. 1914-d. 1996) was a noted Indian poet, journalist and politician of Assam. Sagar Dekhisa is his only collection of poems.

Dr. Pori Hiloidari is a critic and award winning translator of Assam. She teaches English in Handiqui Girls’ College, Panbazar, Guwahati.

Click here to read the original Assamese poem.

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