I doled out five rules of writing poetry in 17 March 2019 edition of The Assam Tribune.
Wednesday, March 06, 2019
Popular Assamese short story writer and poet Partha Bijoy Dutta passed away in February 2019. He was young. I did not know him, but I noticed condolences flooding my timeline. Most of my friends also shared an Assamese poem Dutta wrote, perhaps soon before his passing. The poem moved me deeply in its calm acceptance of impending death, without resentment, without regret.
I had to attempt a poor translation of the poem. Here it is.
God’s Two Hands
By Partha Bijoy Dutta
Finally, I reached the sea shore, and standing
next to the moored boat, I looked at the sky.
Making me forget the world, the sea kept me innocent.
On the way, thorns made my feet bloody. Still,
I had the never-ending desire for the sea.
Spreading the two hands, God said, we have been busy,
fixing the chart of your stars, but just couldn’t do it.
The future doesn’t have a forecast. It arrives and
rip life into pieces. Is it easy to put together
all the pieces of a violently broken life?
I searched for God. Spread your two hands.
Pick me up. Unlike my expectation, there was no
lightning, no appearance of divine providence.
She came in silence. Holding up the x-ray plates in light,
she said, matter’s sensitive. I kept walking through the
severity of it. Spreading my hands, I kept calling God.
The sea found me when the life-support machine grabbed
hold of me. Multicoloured boats floated in a sea of hope.
Setting sails where do merchants go? The cheerful
nurse said, where do you go, it’s an ebbing life.
She entered the room in silence. She said
it looks like it’s possible. Are you ready?
God has spread the two hands. I’m not a sea.
I’m looking for a way to return.
Translated by Dibyajyoti Sarma
Monday, March 04, 2019
One, I have known Alice Richman for the last 22 years, since I found her on a rainy afternoon on 24 June 1997, my first day at the University of Pune (I was actually looking for the hostel office). I was a lonely introvert and she felt like a kindred spirit. Since then, I have spend countless afternoons with her, reading (the garden, where the tomb is located, was next to my department). Later, I would invite my classmates and friends and introduce them to her. As Amit alleges, I too would make up stories about her short life and eventual death. My favourite was she falling in love with a local gardener, a handsome Maratha boy. The story ends with double suicide, and Alice haunting the campus searching for her lover (Kamal Amrohi’s ‘Mahal’ is my favourite film). Later, I even took a few friends to the park at midnight, to spot Alice’s ghost.
Two, the story features Amit Ranjan, who is smart and intelligent (and very difficult to please) and whom I am proud to call a friend. I am proud to have worked with him in his tremendous debut as a poet, in the collection, ‘Find Me Leonard Cohen, I’m Almost Thirty’. The book also contains half-a-poem about Alice (the other half is about another Australian, about whom Amit has written a fantastic book, to be out soon. Watch this space).
Three, I’ve always considered Pune to be my second home, and The Times of India, Pune, my extended family. Now, my friend goes there and gets a Page One Anchor! I couldn’t have been prouder. Ajoy, Renuka, Connie sir, whoever edited the story, salute!
Four, and the story has been written by someone who has been a colleague since my rookie days as a deskie, doing sports in ‘The Maharashtra Herald’, which I absolutely abhorred and she absolutely enjoyed. Thank you, again, Swati. Thank you for the memories.