Two Poems by Sudhir Ranjan Singh

    translated by Tuhin Bhowal

    Two Poems

    Time Taking Shape

    Permeating me
    Time takes
    Shape

    Time chisels
    The form of space
    And this form is moulded in
    Such a way as if
    I am the creator of everything

    Wherever I step
    A wild forest
    Spreads in front

    Grass transforms into fields
    Trees into shade
    And flowers wither
    Yielding shape to fruits

    According to my desire
    Sitting on a stone waiting
    Your lips take shape

    I take shape
    According to your desire

    Permeating me
    Time enters you . . .

    Inside you
    Time pounds you
    Measures you with the weights of my desire
    Like a meticulous jeweller

    Time takes the shape of a trail
    Which treads ahead and stops
    At the shape of a house

    I open
    All its windows
    And doors

    Time
    Like a gust of wind
    Leaving me
    Takes the shape of
    Cattle on the field in front

    Time takes the shape of that shepherd
    Who I might have been in any previous life

    All this is
    Taking place at such a time
    When time has been seen
    Tussling against
    Time.

    ***

    I While Looking for Lost Objects

    1

    I while looking for lost objects . . .

    After losing one
    I kept remembering many such lost objects
    The clock on the table missing time
    So many books where it’s written:
    This is the whole truth
    But the truth remains
    Nobody believes in what’s written now

    New objects will rain like hail
    And yet there will be no way to be seduced
    I will move out from the necessity of time
    Objects will move out from the necessity of light
    Darkness will be needed like water
    Man’s body will be desalinated
    And no one will be required to take a bath

    I will run across my hand on my face
    And the hand will feel like wood
    The face will feel like a broken stone
    I will get so lonely without these lost objects
    That to rediscover the meaning of woman
    I will need to consult an encyclopedia
    I will touch a child who will turn into a demon
    And I will not be afraid

    I will forget the lost objects
    I will forget the names of those lost objects
    Hence I will even forget the fear

    2

    Until yesterday, fear was contained as the face of objects
    Delusion of a snake disguised as a rope
    Wolf had been the symbol of fear in language

    It was awfully silent yet visible
    Each of our senses aware of its presence
    It was heard doing every task
    That we thought of a hundred times
    Should we do this or not
    Suppressing love’s hands
    Crying in pretence

    We went mad thinking
    This fear being inside us
    And we were also afraid

    Of seeing it
    In the disguise of a rat
    We laughed forcibly
    We laughed!

    We had to believe our fear
    Where there wasn’t fear, there was doubt
    Where there wasn’t doubt, there was ignorance
    Which the sheep had enshrouded like wool

    The greatest was the fear of the end
    Which even the frightening objects feared

    The shadow of fear
    Rendered the objects beautiful

    3

    Our belief turned shabby objects new
    We signed them
    Before owning them
    Upon our touching, the guava branches
    Turned a little springy
    We were seen
    Amidst thousands of metaphors of objects

    There was food, there was honey, there were flowers
    And the fire of being proud of ourselves . . .
    Even if weren’t eating or drinking
    We were satiated

    Yes, there was beauty, there were senses
    Speed and success
    There was sex . . .
    We turned jubilant remaining sad

    Even after the river dried up, there was the river
    Even after sunset, there was the sun
    And even she
    For whom this poem is being written

    4

    I asked wandering:
    There was a Sita, whose name was Sita
    Like papayas, like pumpkins
    Like the branches of guavas
    There was a Sita

    One could witness the dew-laced face, moonlit
    Even on a hot afternoon . . .

    On seeing her
    Taste filled the grains
    Trees posed larger than trees
    The turbulent loo had no effect
    Air whistled melodiously . . .
    Objects unattainable in the distance
    Appeared almost entering the grasp of hands

    See her and any object would become new
    Like water, like salt . . .

    She was living in an endowed body
    Like leaves, like grass
    Like the slobber of cattle
    Warbling the heart’s wounds
    Healing . . .

    There were one or two pimples on the cheek
    Inside them my sanguine desires glistened

    I was shredded into bits and pieces by the body’s knife
    Yes, my decay lay in Sita
    My decay . . .

    Sita was death’s message
    So lovely
    Now a lost object.

    5

    Cry until you can, lost objects
    Cry in front of my mirror of memories
    Wholeheartedly

    Gone
    Yes, gone are the times
    To keep a peacock’s feathers and
    Dried petals of flowers pressed inside books
    Gone is the age of slogans
    The age of lullabies and poetry

    Inside this old’s earth chest
    Termites and
    Ants will get filled
    No spot will remain bare even
    For a kiss

    Sadness won’t be engulfing me
    Then why would I keep chasing Sita?

    My bones have now become old rocks
    Breaking . . .

    Even if someone says or not
    Let love, turning into fossil
    Remain . . .

    Who cares sitting in seclusion
    Gossipping about the depth of the sky
    I, exhausting myself sneezing
    They, passing on the kerchief

    There will be no alternative to deceit

    Neither water nor salt
    Not even any god
    Nothing will be the truth of purity
    Neither love nor thought

    Deceit will also be considered
    The meaning of salt and water

    6

    And there will be no remedy
    Lest I go mad . . .
    For there exists no man
    Still sane

    Should I go mad decorating the
    Registry of lost objects in my heart,
    Reading some old fable of a prince
    That on opening all doors of memories
    I would turn so ecstatic
    That I’ll run away . . .

    Let all mirages of photographs
    Remain with their own scourges
    Only the word is a mirror . . .

    Right now
    Mumbling something
    I should run away
    And cuddle with the weather
    With monsoon
    With the loo, with a cold night . . .

    I want to escape
    Even from light’s needle-hole
    And yes, of course, in the end still needing to
    Reach Sita.

    Author’s Bio:

    Sudhir Ranjan Singh was born on 28th October 1960 in Gaya, Bihar. An alumnus of Patna College and Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi), he teaches at Government Hamidia College, Bhopal. His three published poetry collections are Aur Kuch Nahi Toh, Mokshdhara, and Shayad. Bhartrihari – Kavita ka Paras Paththar is his contribution to poetic transcreation from the Sanskrit of the Hindu linguistic philosopher. He is also the foremost living literary critic and his three published books are Hindi Samudaay aur RashtravaadKavita ke Prasthan and Kavita ki SamajhBhaariya: Paatalkot ka Jeevan Chhand is his published travelogue. He has served as the Editor of Adyatan Hindi Alochana and has translated R.P. Naronha’s book ‘A Tale Told by an Idiot’ into Hindi as Ek Anadi ki Kahi Kahaani. Three of his new books, one poetry collection, and two works in creative non-fiction are forthcoming in 2023 – one of which is a book-length interview series on poetics with the late eminent poet, Kedarnath Singh.

    Translator’s Bio:

    Recipient of the Deepankar Khiwani Memorial Prize 2022, Tuhin Bhowal’s poems and translations appear or are forthcoming in Bad Lilies, Poetry at Sangam, Oxford Anthology of Translation 2022, adda, Poetry City USA, Ovenbird Poetry, Parentheses Journal, South Florida Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Tuhin lives alone in Bangalore, India and tweets @tuhintranslates.

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