Jibanananda das

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Jibanananda
by Abdul Mannan Syed, translated by S M Maniruzzaman

On the streets, I sometimes see Jibanananda Das:
A sturdy figure with slightly dirty panjabi and dhoti hanging upon his knee
And a pair of obscure sandal embracing his feet
Steps slowly along the footpath with a relaxed gait.
And inside his two eyes
The green prism that I’ve lost in my childhood
Broken apart burn bright.

One day I saw him in the end of the green road,
One day in the stadium market he passed by me on the stairs
When I was running upstairs to the bookshop,
One day as on a hurry I was galloping through the crowd
I saw him standing reading a book on the pavement in Nilkhet.
One day I saw him walking self-absorbed along the lake,
One day I saw him whirling in the circular fish market.

One day no sooner had I seen him with my curious eyes
Than I lost him in the midst of the crowd
He dissolved in desolateness.

Only once as he was passing by
Giving me a blank glance
Said as if he’d spoken a soliloquy
“Where have you been so long? ”
And without waiting for a reply
He dissolved in disillusionment.

One day in the evening I saw him
Ashamed like a star caught red-handed
Standing on the most desolate field of the capital
On a rickshaw I was passing by the field
I saw the night harboured on his hair
Grasshoppers were jumping out of the prisms of his eyes.

The needles of the cold dew of late autumn surround his legs
Like the obscure people kneeling in prayer around a primitive deity.
I saw him wearing dhuti-panjabi woven of fog
I saw the stars were rising out of his mouth when he was speaking alone
I saw the moon was shining inside the loose pocket of his panjabi.

Then Jibanananda began mooning
Every which way and moving away
Further and further away from my sorrow of life.