Nirendranath Chakravarty – a gifted poet with immense contributions to contemporary Bengali literature – passed away on December 25, 2018. As we pay homage to him, we choose to share a poem written by him: a poem that enchants us, and sharpens our ways of seeing.
Jesus of Kolkata
There was no red signal
still stopped sudden
The city which so far had the speed
Precariously held on to the road
Balancing perilous on wheel
Taxi and private, tempo, tiger embossed double deckers;
All those who raised hue and cry
And came from all sides
Laborers, hawkers, shopkeepers, customers -they all became part of a still picture.
They all became part of a still picture
Done by the artist, stuck to his easel;
Saw how a naked child crossed the road
From one end to another;
Now the light had pierced through
Kolkata seemed to be flooded by illusory light;
Peering out of the window of the state bus
Saw the face of the sky and saw you too;
Son of a mother
You the Jesus of Kolkata
Stopped the traffic by your spell;
The screaming millions,
The teething and gnawing of impatient drivers
Did not deter you;
You walk through
with death on both sides,
Like someone learning to walk,
Like humanity incarnate
too glad to learn to walk
truing to get the whole world.
Translated from Bengali by Moinak Dutta.