Introduction:: Aryanil Mukherjee
Bhaskar Chakrabarty‘s (1943-2003) poetry is synonymous with the romantic melancholia of Kolkata - a marooning alienation suffered by both young and old, inescapable, a sadly beautiful trapped-state from which there might exist an escape, but into a world of non-poetry. A whole generation of poets living in Kolkata in the 1960s and 70s wrote like him, but none can canon a karuN ras (juice of sadness), metropolitan isolation and meandering disconsolateness like Bhaskar. There is a subtle sentimentality in his lucid prose poems which validates an important dimension of an innately oriental urban modernity which often disgust western criticism. From his maiden voyage Sheetkaal Kabe Asabe Suparna (When Will It be Winter, Suparna, 1971), his first book of poems, Bhaskar Chakrabarty immediately drew attention, often hailed as one of the best poets in the city. A loner by nature, he stayed away from limelight and commotion all his life. Bhaskar has authored eight books of poetry and rarely wrote prose. He fell prey to lung cancer in 2003.
Selected Poems :: Bhaskar Chakrabarty
A tale of the lost
Never try to find out how I had lost myself. Too many people get lost. To be frank. Our new clothes, table lamps stay up prim and proper – and a teardrop of suddenness trickles down in the verandah, it gets dark soon. Look, I had grained into beings like dust. Spent a whole life in tiny rooms, on the street, at the edge of the drains – watching angels slide into slumber while washing cheap crockery in tea-stalls. Unknown humans – I loved you all. Iron-waves and of stones, I wished you could carry me like a fountain – didn’t want the house to look haunted – when the breeze will flirt with the floral curtains in your windows, when from your dark, grim office furniture will bubble bloat dreams, remember, I played my part too somewhere in there – like a dry tranquility – colorless, singular.
I forbid this afternoon, wish it is lost for good
Afternoon that brought back dad's body odor
his swollen face, warted black stone -
Like last year, I sat alone waiting since the early hours after lunch
alone waiting, knowing well how unhealthy that is -
What about the rustic tourists that come to see the city
didn't they arrive today ? a day comes finally
curing all - the young woman who lost her sleep
from the spooky dance of the skeletons
I hear, even she has gone far, farther than college
far off to Bally or Belur -
But what about me ? Shouldn't I go someplace ? What kind of day
is here, as if the ship leaves the dock - as if no place for dreams
as if the prince is dead somewhere and it rains
Bally, Belur - suburbs of Kolkata
Or the night for which one waits a lifetime
seems so close now. Brief, shrill birdcries
moments before the storm. And scatter-brained trees
enthusing from leaf to leaf ultimately to the interior.
Standing on the dark terrace I think of our empty lives.
Never wrote to you about those airless nights, those
unshared miseries, leave them to me - a space my lonely
pacing fills up and down - that's my life.
And bright new pills all wrapped in shiny zinc paper.
I think again of us sitting on our cuddled chairs.
Think of a gigantic night that'll scrape away our
grief, sense of sorrow - oh! harmonium in your
wooden case - come sing to us now.
All poems translated by Aryanil Mukherjee