Holiday Preparations by Rabindranath Tagore

Puja holidays draw near.
Sunshine is draped in the colour of Champa.
The air ripples with dew,
Shiuli’s fragrance lingers
like the delicate caress of someone’s cool hands.
White clouds make the sky lazy—
seeing which, the mind becomes laid-back.
Mastermoshai continues to teach
the primitive story of coal
While a student sits on the bench and paddles his feet,
his mind awash with images
The cracked ghat of Kamal pond,
And the fruit-laden custard apple tree of the Bhanjas.
And he sees in his mind’s eyes, the zigzag path
that leads from the milkmen’s neighbourhood
by the side of the haat,
into the tishi fields, next to the river.
During the economics class at college
the bespectacled, medal-winning student
jots down a list–
which recent novel to buy,
which shop will give on credit—
the sari with the “Do Remember” border,
shakha washed in gold,
a pair of red velvet chappals, handcrafted in Dilli
and a silk cloth-bound poetry book,
printed on antique paper—
the title of which eludes him.
At the three-storied house in Bhabanipur
a melange of shrill, hoarse voices talk—
This time will it be MountAbu or Madurai,
Dalhousie or Puri,
or that ever familiar Darjiling?
And I see, on the auburn path that leads to the station
five or six lambs tethered with ropes,
their helpless cry rending
the calm autumn sky that lilts with brushing kaash flowers.
How do they know
their puja holidays are nigh?

Mastermoshai = Respectful term for teacher (Bengali)

Champa, Shiuli = Flowers

Ghat = Bank

Haat = Weekly village market

Tishi = Linseed

Shakha = White bangle made of a particular stone. Is worn by married Bengali women.

Chappal = Footwear


Translated by: Bhaswati Ghosh

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12 thoughts on “Holiday Preparations by Rabindranath Tagore

  1. Bhaswati, your poetry is so evocative. I felt all the flavor of the Druga Puja. I especially enjoyed the last stanza: the helpless cry of lambs across the autumn sky and the brush of kaash flowers. Excellent!

  2. This is really wonderful, specially the twist at the end, which heightens the effect and adds poignancy to the lines before it.Can you please indicate the original first line and whether it has been sung by anyone?Truly thankful for this one.

  3. In the economics class at collegethe bespectacled, medal-winning studentjots down a listwhich recent novel to buywhich shop will give in credit—the sari with the “Do Remember” border,shakha washed in gold,These lines…In their beauty and splendour, how deeply painful the poignant memory and familiarity of my heritage, even for me…of what once came and went when I was

  4. Cesar, it was a good one. :DCereal Girl, welcome to my blog. I am glad you liked the poem. You have a great blog too. I shall be visiting often. :)Jas, it’s so satisfying when the reader feels the emotions and atmosphere a piece of writing conveys. I am always a little nervous to translate Tagore, since he can never be “fully” translated. But it gives me real joy to see reactions like yours. Bhupinder, it does throw in a surprise at the end, doesn’t it? Am glad you liked reading it. :)Susan, it’s so wonderful to know those lines evoked nostalgia for you. Good memories never hurt. :)WA, not only is the twist at the end poignant, but Tagore weaves it in so seamlessly, doesn’t he? Never ceases to amaze me. Abhay, welcome to my blog. Thanks for your kind words and the link. You have a wonderful blog too. And I am linking you up as well. :)BK, you said it so aptly. “Different perspectives of the season,” indeed it is. Glad to share. :)Bernita, :).

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