Women Vendors Along the steep bank near the bourn That flows through the bosom of the craggy hill Come down daily Kadam, Basapi and others Each carrying a wicker basket of dreams. Laying out their commodities wait for buyers Countless speculations in their eyes On every tuft of vegetables depends their family budget. Bargaining for the tufts priced at rupees ten or twenty, For want to small coins the buyers go away leaving behind The unbought polythene bags full of vegetables. Hiding their flaring up anger And arranging in order the commodities again They wait for the next buyers. Instead of showing a little compassion for The whimpering babies in their laps The buyers take away one or two chillies And okras asking for these as extra. If they have to carry the vegetable baskets back Their calculations go away They keep back the list of items for the baby they were mulling over With the yearning to live life Carrying with them new and newer dreams daily They come down in the early morning everyday Over the steep banks of the bourn.
Sarhepi She is Sarhepi She is known by this name Her emotions and feelings are dedicated to the dead. Singing Kasarhe Alun She becomes one with the soul of the dead Narrating virtues and vices in life of the dead Suddenly she sheds sorrows, With Towar Kethan song She informs the soul of the dead about the way to heaven also. This is her burden of responsibility But then, she is speechless today with pangs of loss The tune of her song has lost its rhythm For She knew the dead long since When they knelt down together before the people Seeking blessings and became one Bound to each other by pledge To walk the path of life and death together Apprising him of the way to heaven How would she bid him in her song To go to the unknown world leaving her behind To begin life anew And tell him to live life happily. ____________________ Sarhepi: Woman who sings dirge for the dead. Kasarhe Alun: Keening song/dirge. Towar Kethan: To give information about roads and locations.
Translated by Uttam Duorah
Geeta Hansepi is an Assamese poet and writer based in Diphu. She has two books in Assamese to her credit. She teaches Assamese in Diphu Government College, Karbi Anglong.