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.