Song of the Red Road

An unbound auburn road bears songs not washed away by the gust of time; songs the sage poet sang to extol the road’s hypnotic effect on the weary traveler’s mind. The road lives, the songs live, too. The road and its songs are one now.

That ruddy road down the village makes my heart stray.
Who does the hand reach out to, only to roll over the dust?

The road makes its own way, unrestricted and haphazard and comes to meet its friend, the giant banyan tree. She knows the sun likes to play behind it, splashing its gleam through the banyan’s curtains.

When I first met that banyan tree, its leaves were the green color of spring. The sky’s fugitive light would flash through its gaps and embrace earth’s shadows on the grass. After that ashadh’s rain came; like the clouds its leaves became somber. Today the pile of leaves is akin to the mature intelligence of the elderly, no outside light can pervade its gaps… This morning, she said to me, dangling her enormous emerald necklace, “Why are you sitting with all those bricks and stones on your head? Come all out in the open like me!”

After sharing her pleasure-pain tales with the banyan, the red road curves toward the shal forests. There, inebriated trees oscillate on the wayward wind’s notes.

How rapturous, this dance of light on leaves
The wild storm in the shal forest makes my heart quiver.
Following the trail of the red road, folks dart to the haat
A little girl sits by the dusty path and spreads out her toys
These scenes that I bear witness to strike the cords of my heart’s veena.

The sun has stopped its play for the day. Dusk joins the red road as she makes her way to commune with her people—those who know the soil and the forests as dear friends. Santhal villagers greet the road with their earthy smile and rustic songs.

The Santhal girl comes and goes
through the pebble-strewn road by the Shimul tree.
A thick sari tightly wraps her dark, slim body.

One of god’s absent-minded artisans

must have lost his way while creating a black bird

and perusing ingredients from monsoon’s clouds and lightning

fashioned that woman.

Then night comes—with the glow of intermittent fireflies flickering through the invisible marshes along pale green ponds. The auburn road doesn’t stop. It continues to sing—all out in the open—where day and night, past and present, work and play are enmeshed with the One.

All of the above is a languid reminiscing of my journey to Shantiniketan in March.

Note: All quoted text written by Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Bhaswati Ghosh.


7 thoughts on “Song of the Red Road

  1. Hi Bhaswati,I enjoy reading your posts.Nevermind about not attending the Book Release Ceremony, Delhi was too hot that time. Please send me your address so that I can ask my publisher to send you a copy of my book.Cheers!

  2. Prashanth, you are too kind. If only you read Tagore’s original, you would agree with me. :)Bernita, roads call to use, indeed. Some roads tell you more that the destination they lead you to. Sid, it’s a joy to be able to share even a little of Tagore’s enchanting world with you all. Thanks for your kind remarks. Abhay, so good to see you. I still feel bad about not making it to your release ceremony. Thanks for being so kind as to send me your book. I am emailing you. 🙂

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