In Search of a Spine

Posted by Dev Baul - 25/06/21 at 12:06 am

In Search of a Spine 

All obituaries and tributes for poet Shankha Ghosh who succumbed to post-corona complications last April,  have been full of hyperboles like “conscience of Bengal”, “prophet of humanity”, and so on. It is enormously ironic that the legacy of a poet known for his subtleties, sarcastic innuendoes and understatement,  has to be celebrated with such overstatements and embellishments. 

Such exaggerations paint an off-putting halo around the poet and take him away from the readers, especially those who have not read Shankha Ghosh in Bengali. Shankha Ghosh’s mastery over his craft, his relentless inquisition against the establishment—all get lost in this din.

Here I present an English and a Hindi  version of his poem “The Crawl.”  This epigrammatic poem, to my mind, is most representative of his writing.

These are not authorized literal translations but rather personal interpretations of the poet’s verse. Hindi version is by  Mrs. Sipra Choudhury, an ex-professor of Bengali at the University of Delhi.

Hopefully, this will incite some readers to read more of Shankha Ghosh’s poetry in Bengali or more authentic translations. 

 

The Crawl

Shankha Ghosh

 

(I) Wake up suddenly.

A storm brewing outside?

The window panes are pounding,

Lightning strikes fleetingly.

As I go to bed again, in the flash of that lightning,

it seems someone is crawling in the room.

 

-‘Who’s there? Who? ‘

The crawler makes no sound.

Coming near him, I ask again:

-‘Who are you? What do you want?’

 

 

Silently he keeps moving from corner to corner

Keeping the head low, avoiding eye contact.

 

– ‘Are you looking for something?’

I can hear:

 

 

– Sure ‘I’m looking for it, I must find it –

On finding it, will walk away on my own

 

-‘What are you looking for? ‘

He says in a soft voice:

– ‘My Spine’

 

At that moment the lightning flashes again.

I look up in shock:

He is not alone – many, many
crawlers are searching for the same
across all corners of the room…

 

(Translated from Bangla…………………………………. Dev Baul)

 

 

Recited by Manishikha Baul – Odissi Dancer, Performing Artist and Social Activist

रेंगना – 

शंख घोष

 

अचानक नींद टूट गई।

बाहर क्या आँधि आ रही है?

खिड़की में ज़ोर ज़ोर से आवाज़ हो रही है।

बीच बीच में बिजली चमक रही है।

फ़िर लेटते वक्त बिजली की छटपटाते हुई रोशनी में

ऐसा लग  जैसे कमरे में कोई घुटने के बल रेंग रहा है

 

“कौन है वहां पर? कौन?”

कोई आवाज़ नही आती

उठके आता हूँ, फ़िर से पूंछता हूँ,

“आप कौन है क्या चाहते है?”

 

वह फ़िर भी जवाब नही देता है।

यह कोणा वह कोणा घूमता रहता है।

 

“आप क्या कुछ ढूंढ रहे हैं”

सुनाइ दिया,

 

” ढूंढ तो रहा हूँ, ढूंढना तो पड़ेगा ही।

मिलने पर निकल जाऊंगा, खुद अपने पैरों से चलकर।”

 

“क्या ढूंढ रहे हैं”

धीमी आवाज़ में वो बोले,

“मेरा मेरुदण्ड”

 

तभी फ़िर से बिजली चमकी,

चौंक कर देखा,

अकेला वह ही नहीं, बहुत सारे लोग

उसी खोज में कमरे का कोणा-कोणा रेंग रहे है।

 

(बांगला कविता अनुवाद करने की अक्षम कोशिश……..शिप्रा चौधरी)

Recited by Sipra Choudhury

 

হামাগুড়ি

শঙ্খ ঘোষ

ঘুমটা ভেঙ্গে গেল হঠাৎ।

বাইরে কি ঝড় হচ্ছে?

দাপাদাপি করছে জানলার

পাল্লাদুটো,

মাঝে মাঝে বিজলি ঝলকাচ্ছে।

ফের শুয়ে পড়তে গিয়ে সেই

বিদ্যুতের ছটফটে আলোয় মনে

হল ঘরের মধ্যে যেন হামা

দিচ্ছে কেউ।

 

-‘কে ওখানে? কে?’

 

হামা কোনো শব্দই করে না।

উঠে আসি কাছে, আবারও

জিজ্ঞেস করিঃ

 

-‘কে আপনি? কী চান?’

 

সে তবু নিশ্চুপ থেকে এ –

কোণে ও -কোণে ঘুরছে

মাথা তুলছে না কিছুতেই, চোখে

চোখ নয়।

 

-‘কিছু কি খুঁজছেন আপনি?’

 

শুনতে পাচ্ছিঃ

 

-‘খুঁজছি ঠিকই, খুঁজতে তো হবেই –

পেলেই বেরিয়ে যাব, নিজে নিজে

হেঁটে।’

-‘কি খুঁজছেন?’

 

মিহি স্বরে বললেন তিনি :

-‘মেরুদণ্ডখানা।’

 

সেই মুহুর্তে বিদ্যুৎ ঝলকালো

ফের। চমকে উঠে দেখিঃ

একা নয়, বহু বহু জন

একই খোঁজে হামা দিচ্ছে এ-

কোণে ও কোণে ঘর জুড়ে।

 

Recited by Subhasri Roy – a Voice & Recitation Artist

 

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11 Responses to “In Search of a Spine”

  1. Shyamal Mazumder says:
    June 25th, 2021 at 7:13 am

    Hats off dear bro.

  2. Mitali Baul says:
    August 12th, 2021 at 4:15 pm

    প্রতাপ , তোর introduction টা খুবই ভালো বলা হয়েছ ।তোর voice টাও ভালো লাগছে । Translation টাও খুব ভালো হয়েছে ।
    Manishikha র বলাটা খুবই স্পষ্ট হয়েছে কবিতার মানে টা পরিষ্কার হয়েছে ।
    শিপ্রার translation টা এবং বলা খুবই ভালো লাগলো ।

    শঙ্খ ঘোষের বাংলা কবিতা শুভশ্রীর কন্ঠে অালাদা মাত্রা এনেছে ।

  3. Sourav says:
    August 12th, 2021 at 4:18 pm

    Excellent renditions…

  4. Debashish Bhattacharyya says:
    August 12th, 2021 at 6:24 pm

    অনুবাদ অসাধারণ হয়েছে, আবৃত্তিও খুব ভাল । আমরা কি অদূর ভবিষ্যতে কবি দেবপ্রতাপ বলের সর্বসমক্ষে আসার অপেক্ষায় আছি?

  5. Aali Pant says:
    August 13th, 2021 at 4:45 pm

    I have never read any of his poem. This is a wonderful initiative Dev Da especially for people like me who are oblivious to such gems. The Hindi translation though needs more emotions and less of strict translations. I had written a post about the feelings that get lost in translation while reading a Hindi translated story of Tagore. In case you may want to read:
    https://aalipant.com/2019/10/13/%e0%a4%85%e0%a4%a8%e0%a5%81%e0%a4%b5%e0%a4%be%e0%a4%a6/

  6. Dev Baul says:
    August 14th, 2021 at 2:10 pm

    I read your piece.Agree with you totally. If you notice this post is under page “Lost in translation ‘

    Will discuss at length in mail

  7. Kasturi Chattopadhyay says:
    August 14th, 2021 at 1:02 am

    অপূর্ব হয়েছে বলা, অনুবাদ ,আবৃত্তি, সব মিলে খুব ভালো একটা কোলাজ হয়েছে শঙ্খদার এই বিখ্যাত কবিতাটি। খুব ভালো লাগলো, প্রথমে তোমার বলাটাও খুবই ভালো হয়েছে…

  8. Ritwika chaudhuri says:
    August 15th, 2021 at 2:00 am

    Tomar kabita er choice ta shirdarae shiharan janai, karan amra sobai bodh hoi merudandahin hoye gechi.hindi bhalo Porte parina kintoo recitation ta bhalo laglo. Tomar anubaad o …aar bangla r English recitation.

  9. Jayant Bhattacharjee says:
    August 15th, 2021 at 8:19 am

    Impeccable diction in both English and Hindi.
    Your mastery over both languages is commendable.

  10. Dev Baul says:
    August 15th, 2021 at 8:45 am

    Thanks – Hindi translation by me pisi Sipra Choudhury.

  11. Vinod Ullal says:
    August 19th, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    Such a lovely and apt remembrance of a great Poet and thanks for introducing him to some of us through ‘The Crawl’
    I had initially thought this was so contemporary and apt…realizing this would be so for any part of the world and at all times…such universal appeal through a few words…

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