How strange an aspect the forlorn shadows wear How strange an aspect the forlorn shadows wear Nobody knows where the bodies have disappeared The desert is gradually devouring the hearts, Brimming with contemptuous vanity While running over cadavers Are the opulent motorcars. The eyes have lost the sense of sight The rivers have run dry The fields have turned fallow In the forest no trees and branches remain. Then ... what remains? The apartments with shuttered doors and windows The agonised laments of pain The pangs of unrequited love writ on faces Endless funeral processions and sighings remain Appalling levels of contaminants remain Insincere conversations borne of lukewarm friendships, etcetra, Among many other things Remain. The strange aspect of the gradually enveloping Forlorn shadows too remain. Ask the flock of birds navigating through the smoky haze Ask the flock of birds navigating through the smoky haze, How they go in search of forests, fields, And— Clasp in their beaks blighted blue-speckled seeds. Place your hand on the breast of the parched river and ask, How will she hear The sound of the flowing stream, The pebbles will don the water's robes The songs of the waterfall will become a lost cause. Rivers running dry Forests bereft of flora - Hugging tight a bare, craggy mountain Inquire the earth gasping in agonised throes How long— How long will it take to assume a Saharan form Lying strewn and scattered everywhere Are heaps of mangled skulls and bones. Time quipped, "Relax, don't fret, Let's witness the apocalyptic scene of the final act." Though the heart is torn asunder, we only live once The rivers are desperately crying out for water The ocean levels are receding The moon is seeking its reflection in a water body In the thick of a concrete jungle. The birds are wallowing in the briny lake The fishes are swimming back and forth Laving it up to make up for lost time. My beloved friend Open your arms wide towards the sky Let despair, hopelessness and pain get washed away in the rain Close your eyes May a deep forest come unleashed from your eyelashes Place both hands over your chest and feel The metronomic pulsations of heartbeat The hand working in unison with the noble heart Build a bridge of trust Looking intently in the eye, move down to the core of your breast Lift up the radiant face suffused with love And lock the earth, forest, human, all in a powerful embrace Though the heart is torn asunder, we only live once.
Translated by Mridul Bordoloi
Sarifa Khatoon Chowdhury is an Assamese poet and novelist based in Doomdooma, Assam. She has two collections of poems to her credit. She is a Consulting Editor of PWF.
Dr. Mridul Bordoloi teaches in the Department of English, Dibrugarh University. As a literary critic, he writes in English and Assamese as well.