POEM | Amalkanti by Nirendranath Chakraborty



Nirendranath Chakraborty

Here is a beautiful poem that reminds us of the eternal conflict between life’s finest aspirations and the harsh reality of our earthly existence.

Amalkanti is a friend of mine,

We were together at school.

He often came late to class

and never knew his lessons. 

When asked to conjugate a verb, 

he looked out of the window

in such puzzlement 

that we all felt sorry for him. 

Some of us wanted to be teachers,

some doctors, some lawyers.

Amalkanti didn’t want to be any of these. 

He wanted to be sunlight—

the timid sunlight of late afternoon,

when it stops raining

and the crows call again,

the sunlight that clings like a smile

to the leaves of the jam and the jamrul.

Some of us have become teachers,

some doctors, some lawyers.

Amalkanti  couldn’t become sunlight.

He works in a poorly lit room

for a printer. 

He drops in now and then to see me,

chats about this and that

over a cup of tea, then gets up to go.

I see him off at the door. 

The one among us who’s a teacher

could easily have become a doctor.

If the one who’d wanted to be a doctor

had become a lawyer,

it wouldn’t have made much difference to him.

All of us got more or less, what we wanted,

all except Amalkanti—

who used to think so much about sunlight

that he wanted to become sunlight. 

Translated from Bengali by Sujit Mukherjee and Meenakshi Mukherjee.




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