Translation of Dibbendu Palit’s “Rajenbabu”

For Rajenbabu, were the days

                                         Like nights,

And the nights were the days. 

Came every now and again—

And pressed the bell with a force

                                    More than usual.

Neither a penance nor penitence

                                    Was in his mind;

Then laughing a fool, he said,

                                    You know, nobody thinks I’m

                                            A decent man.

 

Only for Rajenbabu, lamps were

                                    Beaconed in our midnight house.

Floated in air from the kitchen a smell of yellow yolk—

                                    And the music of dancing spoon.  

Suspecting the paw-running of cornice-crossing cat

                                    Pigeons from the pigeon-hole stretched

                                    Their wings in the scary sky.

 

Rajenbabu often said, how strange,

                                    Tram-car rests so early!

Passenger’s got no range!    

                                    And taxi fare? Oh my Gosh!

                                    You know what? Four times my daily meal.

Anyway, leave it.

                                    What about you? Bought the flat?

Price­­­­-hikes of cars are the hot news in the newspapers—,

                                    So what’s new? How about them?

                                                What? Cancer!

Don’t worry— it can also be cured;

                                    I’ve witnessed many cases like this.    

(Daughter-in-law), why have you gone so gaunt, my child!

I’m afraid, it’s Anemia!

                                    You better test your blood— and so on.

 

We had never been eager for

                                     Rajendababu anyway—

Neither about his coming,

                                     Nor about his going away.

 

Letting him speak and counting through

                                    The stairs we used to

                                                Mount the rooftop—

Our excited eyes were at him; 

                                    As people from far-away look at

                                                The Magicians to save a coin.

Then Rajenbabu disappeared suddenly-

                                    Years and years passed away.

No curiosity aroused in our mind into his concern

                                    Nor a question; taking

                                                Whereabouts.                            

 

Sometimes merely at a fair midnight sleep on the way

                                                To safety

One thing came into apprehended mind,

The man disappeared for many a nights was

                                                Rajenbabu.

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