Iowa Writes

JOY GOSWAMI
Things Recalled at Night
Translated from Bengali by Prasenjit Gupta


All that rainfall
Laid out in the rainfall, all those dead bodies
Beating at the dead bodies, all that wind
Trembling with the wind but not billowing out, all those
                    encompassing shrouds
Thrusting their muzzles in, tugging at the cloth, all those night-time dogs
Shouting, driving the dogs away, all those attendants
Half-naked, squatting attendants
Laid down beside the attendants, all those wooden staves
Those clay pipes not burning, in the rain
Those not-burning pyres
Spaced apart, all those not-burning pyres

All that rainfall
Laid out in the rainfall, all those dead bodies
Beating at the dead bodies, all that wind
Trembling with the wind but not billowing out, all those
                    encompassing shrouds
Thrusting their muzzles in, tugging at the cloth, all those night-time dogs
Shouting, driving the dogs away, all those attendants
Half-naked, squatting attendants
Laid down beside the attendants, all those wooden staves
Those clay pipes not burning, in the rain
Those not-burning pyres
Spaced apart, all those not-burning pyres

Behind the pyres, the ragged river-bank
And on all those ragged edges, risen from the water,
All their mothers sit
Their heads covered with uncolored cloth
Risen up from the water after long years, climbed down from the rain,
All their mothers sit like small white bundles
So that at burning time
They can be close to their sonsó
At burning time when the dead will remember
                    a wife left behind
An only daughter who ran away with her lover
Unresolved property and a friend's treachery
The dead man will remember the first day at school and
Unseen for so long,
                    unresisted, the cause of his own death
When he tries, flustered, to sit up on the pyre
                    one last time
And the attendant's stave strikes hard,
                    breaking him, laying him outó
Then she can touch that fire-burnt skull
With her age-old kitchen-weary pot-scrubbing shriveled hand
And, spreading the end of her sari over those molten eyes,
                    the widow can say
Don't fret, baba, my son, here I am, here, I'm your mother,
                    here, right at your side!

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


JOY GOSWAMI

Joy Goswami is regarded as one of the finest poets in the "post-Jibananda Das era" of Bengali poetry. He is the author of twenty-five collections of poetry, ten novels (one of which is in verse), and a book of critical essays. In 2001 he participated in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.

Prasenjit Gupta, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, is the author of A Brown Man and Other Stories (Rupa, 2002). He lived in Iowa City and worked at the UI Press for twelve years, then joined the Foreign Service and is currently serving in Chennai, India.

The original poem appeared in the collection of poems paataar poshhaak, first published in 1997. The translation was first published on Parabaas.com, the leading web site devoted to Bengali literature in Bengali and translation.

This page was first displayed
on August 31, 2006

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