Poems By Mandakranta Sen

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 Mandakranta Sen is young Bengali poet, who received Sahitya Akademi young writers award few years ago. I had not read her poetry, partly due to not knowing Bengali. She is only writer from Bengal who returned her award and with rightful indignation. She is active participant in Bengal’s democratic movements in solidarity with workers and peasants. She was kind enough to share her fifteen Bengali poems in English translation with me and I am sharing these here with her permission. Her collection of poetry in English translation is also likely to come in few months. I am not connoisseur of literature, much less of poetry, despite translating Pash and Patar’s poetry in Hindi from my mother tongue Punjabi, still I can say that these poems have touched me. She has assertion as well as sensitivity of humanity in her poems and a strong women’s voice also. We came to know each other as we became co-returnee of Sahitya Akademi awards with other writers. But I have been enriched by her poetry and could not resist to share it on my blog to further share with blog readers. Hope you will also like it.

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  1. OFFERING  /    MANDAKRANTA SEN

 

Not even a grain of salt, you only have your wish

Cook with your tears, girl, tear is also saltish

Make a full course of menu, a full course of suffering

Sour dream, sweet envy, oh please don’t miss a thing!

Keep it to the east, to the south some lemon to taste

Keep wind to the north, a sleeping oven to the west

Now the ritual is done, shut all the doors and pray

The time has come, girl, today is the ultimate day —

Don’t let him run away from these offerings you’ve made

Onto the dish of God, girl, serve your own bloody head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. THE WIND   /      MANDAKRANTA SEN

 

Wind is blowing

Wind was blowing.

 

With that wind, the pyre glowed brighter

Everything that could be burnt, was burnt.

 

Gradually, the fire quenched, so also the wailing.

Having eaten up the ashes, the river wiped its face and lay down.

 

Strangely, even then, pervading the whole universe,

Wind was blowing …

 

A stupid, deaf and dumb, blind, motherless wind …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. KALI : THE DARK GODDESS  /    MANDAKRANTA SEN 

 

1.

She has opened a window in between her brows, and then

Sparkled her sharp forehead, sculpted out of stone

Darkness and light slip down the steep day and night

 

From her arrogant lap, she puts down with all her might

The newborn demolition-day — the crippled hate-child of her own

Clusters of blood … flesh … and brain …

 

2.

Her altar is blatant and bare

Inside the palms folded together, froths up a lust

Rage becomes pure touching the wine … things change …

 

Ever since her birth she hid in her loin all the deepest revenge

Placenta, a red hibiscus with stalk, is severed by the midnight’s thrust

And the lethal mantra … hitting … and hitting right there

 

3.

These are her favourites: young men’s handsome skulls, chalky white

One part sex with one part affection mixed in an earthy goblet

A fierce lamp’s reflections, broken and all over the place …

 

Right from her girlhood, — curious, thoroughly shameless —

She’s known love as an intelligent doubt till date

Creation-Existence-End is nothing but masturbation. Quite.

 

4.

Yes, they give her a high:

A breast that’s dextral, a navel that blossoms day by day

A vagina whose petals are arranged like that of clitoria — dark blue

 

A finger more shapely than a penis — which also gives a clue

By piercing the eye — about how to move the lamp to pray

… And eye means — yes, the third eye …

 

 

 

5.

She has to cook and eat her own flesh, otherwise she too starves

On a dark moon’s tongue, frozen moonlight still shines

So do the marks of reckless bites and bruises

 

Right below the crematory, when the last piece of firewood chooses

To burn out after an ultimate jump, inside the vault of the shrine

With her teeth she chews her soul —which, with her nails she carves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. PERPETUAL  /    MANDAKRANTA SEN          

 

Keeping awake on the mountains’ chest

Is the old abode of the clouds

 

Sky stoops over to read his own text

Like an author — content … and … proud

 

They, who are awake on the mountains today,

Will they fall asleep tomorrow?

 

‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ — they say

But the sky will be as blue as sorrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. FULL MOON: AN UNTIMELY ONE  /    MANDAKRANTA SEN

 

Ever since that afternoon,

Even the pale moon looked to be lost in a trance

 

She— who had stopped menstruating

From the eighth day of previous dark fortnight

 

At the corner of her mouth, traces of drug,

Or poison, still can be found

 

 

What made her think that inside her bloodstream

Still she could take such a chance

 

With a faint retching sound, the entire roof was

Flooded with vomit, moonlight

 

Warm milk filled her ancient breasts that

Aren’t anymore that round

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. THE WITCH   /  MANDAKRANTA SEN

 

She who writes poetry in the middle of the night

With her hair undone — is a witch

 

After everyone‘s asleep, she soaks in the clear moonlight

On a netherworld’s roof — don’t know which!

 

Secretly she roasts, then eats, the pulpy sadness

Plucked from the crown of her head

 

Climbs up her throat — no, not any lyric of love and caress

Rather, an acidic belch-like moon instead

 

As soon as it dawns, she conceives the sun

Getting to the full-blown advanced stage by noon

 

Bathing with her young dad, she beats up the water in fun

— A young woman, struck by the moon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. THE DARK FORTNIGHT: A PRESAGE /    MANDAKRANTA SEN

 

From the west to the east, inside my head

The moon floats … the moon sinks … dead …

 

Putrefied moonlight sticks to its frame

Even today. But the moon is not to blame —

 

It’s me who have chopped it to death in my brain

Insanity splashed, and my skull got stained …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. FIRE   /   MANDAKRANTA SEN

 

Scattered household. A crude smell hangs in the air.

I know what you think … I think that too —

Something is burning in there.

 

Though I’m reluctant to find out what really burnt.

I’m not looking for the thing you call cure —

That’s the best disease I’ve earned.

 

Carrying the signs of that ailment all over my frame

I’m wandering through the alleys. At the windows up there

People are dying with shame.

 

They’re asking me : Don’t you remember what you’ve lost ?

I’ve lost bits of straw. Meagre fuel. Yet

Fire still smolders beneath the frost.

 

Thus you get the smell. And you query about what burns where

One by one you gather to have fun

At the busy crossings … and crowded squares.

 

Now she must’ve learnt her lessons, they say to each other and boo

Over there the fire, treating friends and foes alike —

Burns down your house too !

 

It burns and burns. Then breaks down to ashes. Well, let it be.

To set fire to Nero’s palace … just a bit later

You too will come and join me.

 

 

 

 

 

9. LEFT & RIGHT   /   MANDAKRANTA SEN

 

Don’t want to call. Still … please wait a bit.

Worship hall to your right, to the left is a red-light street.

 

Which one do you desire ? Think man, think real hard —

Here are the two worlds smeared with menstrual blood.

 

Don’t want to leave you. But that’s the inevitable course.

Alter of Goddess to the right, to the left a colony of whores.

 

Where do you desire to go ? Think man, think, and tell me

Where would you find your blood-smeared happiness’s key ?

 

Don’t wanna tell you. Yet for truth’s sake just let me tell

You’ve heaven on your right, on your left,well, you’ve got hell

 

You think you can manage both the sides ? Very smart !

 

I am your Goddess, man, believe me, I am your tart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 SIN / MANDAKRANTA SEN

 

I met him again

 

I knew it would happen one day or other

 

Not looking at him, I kept my face smiling

Not looking at me, he kept his face annoyed

 

Maybe he remembered nothing

 

Maybe

There is no sin as big as remembrance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. CIVILIZATION / MANDAKRANTA SEN

 

In between your and my love

There grew a civilization of dumbs

 

So delicate to touch

 

It can be shattered into ruins

If we only sigh together …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12. SATISFACTION / MANDAKRANTA SEN

 

O please bring down the ghost

From my head

As I say this, simultaneously

I put my head itself onto your feet

 

And sitting near you, I see,

Like home-made Dahi

Like tasty pickled Khichri

 

With much satisfaction

You are eating my

 

Fermented brain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13. DO YOU KNOW HOW TO SWIM ? / MANDAKRANTA SEN

 

I can give up wearing jeans

If you say so, by all means

I will easily be another woman

The girl who loves you, she can

Never be with unoiled short hair

(you told someone somewhere)

Well, I will be unknown to me

From tomorrow, if you be

With myself, at your feet

I will undress and spread out my blue  Dhanekhali —take it

I will blow in the wind all my manly quirk

I believe it will work

If I can become a stream

 

Boy, do you know how to swim ?…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14. NIGHTMARE / MANDAKRANTA SEN

 

Without sleep all night, yesterday she became blue

Today, she took off her head and placed it on the pillow

Getting the slightest sleep’s clue

 

The rest of her body

roams around the rooms, cornice, rooftop, here and there

And her head weeps seeing a horrible nightmare

 

It sees, some persons, are carefully trying to fix

Her head with her trunk with love and venom mixed

 

At the end her body and head become glued

 

Nowadays, her head as well

doesn’t get a little sleep’s clue …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15.

 

POEM AFTER WAR  /  MANDAKRANTA SEN

 

So many times we have been devastated

See, yet we have not got used to it

Still it is so painful, how we suffer every time

From every ruin, see, from the death

We are returning to our time of birth

Returning with much labour, crawling

 

So many times, so many times we die

See, yet we do not believe in death

In the war-field, we grope for faces, fallen faces

O faces of my parents, faces of my children, come on, wake up

The war is over. Before the next one

We will make homes again

Will fall in love once more—

Burying weapon, will grow corps

In the fields up to horizon

 

So many times we`ve been burnt down, drifted away

Still we do not believe in ruin

We never forgot after all the destructions

 

How the civilization goes on

How mankind wins …

 

 

 


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My response to Bihar election results

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Heartiest congratulations to the people of Bihar for once again proving its democratic credentials and not getting swayed by false and deceptive Hindutva-Moditva trap. Significance of Bihar results is more than Delhi election results. Bihar is one of more politically aware state and much bigger in size. 1974 JP movement, of which Lalu-Nitish are product, changed the course of Indian political discourse. In a way Bihar results are more like 1977 post emergency Loksabha election results. This time overall conditions of country are no less than emergency conditions minus press censorship. Hindutva bullying has been much worse than emergency period gundagardi of Sanjay Gandhi goons. Just for returning awards, a most decent protest by writers/scientists/film world people was made out to be an act of ‘anti nationalism’! We have been abused like anything by RSS-Hindutva trolls on social media. No consideration has been shown to 87 year old PM Bhargava, Padam Bhushan award returnee, 88 year old Nayantara Sehgal, she was subjected to abuses more for being niece of Pandit Nehru than for being a writer, 90 year old Krishna Sobti. Like in Hitler’s Germany of 1933, Hindutva trolls ran ‘Book burning’ campaign of award returnees. We were taunted to be thrown away to ‘Pakistan’, an enemy country for Hindutva trolls, not for people of India, we were also told to go to Hafeez Saeed in Pakistan. What does that meant, to be killed by Pakistan armed forces, or to be killed by Pakistani Bhindrawale Hafeez, as was revolutionary Punjabi poet Pash was killed by Bhindrawale men in India! South Asia is not like Germany in Europe, from where writers could migrate. Here there is no scope of migrating to any other country. The people of Bihar have resoundingly and loudly have ‘made the deaf hear’, as Bhagat Singh had done to the Britishers in 1929! Left front has not done well,but even three seats won by CPI(ML), as part of left front, finds no mention in media, while one seat of HAM, 2-2 seats of Paswan LJP or RSLP do find mention. Congratulations to left front also for marking at least presence in worse of conditions of marginalization of the left! Although left has marginally improved this time,but their loss is substantial. At one time CPI and later CPI-ML used to be impressive force in Bihar assembly and in Parliament elected from Bihar. This time even six party left alliance could not impact the elections much. As CPI-ML has some base intact, so they could score three seats. There is need to build a stronger left movement in Bihar, which can help in reviving left movement in North India. At one time Punjab also used to be stronger base of left in assembly, now completely marginalized. 

Some stray comments on face book-

Not sure about Pakistan, but earlier The Hindu state and now a secular state-Nepal must have celebrated early Diwali yesterday and may be continuing bursting crackers at the massive fall of its tormentor-Hindutva-Moditva!

Modi did prove right at least in one thing-Bihar will celebrate two Diwalis this year- on 8th and on 11/12th! But he gave this chance to not only Bihar,rather to whole of India…..!

Some links to good analysis-

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/biharverdictatributetomyfather3aakhlaq27sson/articleshow/49717718.cms?from=mdr

http://epaper.tribuneindia.com/c/7175149

http://epaper.tribuneindia.com/c/7173410

http://epaper.tribuneindia.com/c/7175154

Two letters by 41 writers on award return issue-issued on 1st November 2015

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Shri Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari,

President, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi

Dear Mr Tiwari,

We have learnt from media reports that a resolution was passed by the Executive Board of the Sahitya Akademi on October 23, 2015 to condemn the shocking murder of Professor M.M. Kalburgi, and to support the right to freedom of speech of every writer in India. This is an urgent matter at this moment of spiralling hatred and intolerance.

The statement could have come earlier; but now that it has come, we urge you to build on this resolution to rethink how the Akademi can truly support its constituency of all writers in India and, by extension, the people of the country. As writers, we strongly feel that the Akademi can play a real and positive role by being independent and autonomous; and by responding to the situations in a strong, humane and robust manner.

We have read in media reports that the Akademi appeals to us to “take back” our awards and/ or our positions in the Akademi. Whatever each writer decides, may we jointly appeal, in turn, that the Akademi reinvent itself to connect with the India we writers, our readers, and our fellow citizens live in?

Yours sincerely,

  1. Adil Jussawalla
  2. Ajmer Aulakh
  3. Ananya Guha
  4. Anil Joshi
  5. Arup Kumar Dutta
  6. Ashok Vajpeyi
  7. Atamjit Singh
  8. Baldev Sadaknama
  9. Bina Sarkar Ellias
  10. Chaman Lal
  11. Damodar Mauzo
  12. Darshan Buttar
  13. Datta Naik
  14. Easterine Kire
  15. Ganesh Devy
  16. Githa Hariharan
  17. Gurbachan Singh Bhullar
  18. Jaswinder
  19. K. Satchidanandan
  20. Keki Daruwalla
  21. Krishna Sobti
  22. Kum Veerabhadrappa
  23. Mandakranta Sen
  24. Mangalesh Dabral
  25. Manmohan
  26. Mitra Phukan
  27. Mohan Bhandari
  28. Nayantara Sahgal
  29. Pargat Singh Satauj
  30. Patricia Mukhim
  31. Pradnya Pawar
  32. Rahman Abbas
  33. Rajesh Joshi
  34. Sara Joseph
  35. Shashi Deshpande
  36. Shubha
  37. Surjit Patar
  38. Uday Prakash
  39. Waryam Sandhu
  40. Xonzoi Barbora

Open letter from writers

Through this open letter, we address everyone, from the President of India to the child who has just learnt to read and discover the world around her.

Many of us writers have spoken up, in one way or the other, whenever our country has been at a point of crisis. But in recent times, we have seen an assault on certain facets of our day-to-day living, from attacks on the scientific temper to physical and often fatal attacks on citizens.

In response, over the last few weeks, several writers returned awards and resigned from their positions in the Sahitya Akademi; or issued statements of protest about the encouragement to intolerance which will have an adverse effect on our polity as well as on the relationship between castes and communities. Our concerns involve more than any one institution such as the Sahitya Akademi. The all-pervasive concern is with safeguarding the constitutional rights of each and every citizen to live as she chooses. This, we see, is being violated every day with old divisions such as caste becoming deeper and more violent; with new divisions being created to shrink the space for discussion and debate; with educational, cultural and other institutions being weakened further by censorship and fear of debate; and worst of all, the idea of India – the idea our freedom fighters envisioned – being distorted into a homogenous India, with its diversity torn apart.

We will continue to express our concerns in as many ways as we can, and in as many voices as possible. We appeal to all citizens of conscience to join us and keep our idea of a plural, tolerant, diverse and argumentative India alive.

Yours sincerely,

  1. Adil Jussawalla
  2. Ajmer Aulakh
  3. Ananya Guha
  4. Anil Joshi
  5. Arup Kumar Dutta
  6. Ashok Vajpeyi
  7. Atamjit Singh
  8. Baldev Sadaknama
  9. Bina Sarkar Ellias
  10. Chaman Lal
  11. Dalip Kaur Tiwana
  12. Damodar Mauzo
  13. Darshan Buttar
  14. Datta Naik
  15. Easterine Kire
  16. Ganesh Devy
  17. Githa Hariharan
  18. Gurbachan Singh Bhullar
  19. Jaswinder
  20. K. Satchidanandan
  21. Keki Daruwalla
  22. Krishna Sobti
  23. Kum Veerabhadrappa
  24. Mandakranta Sen
  25. Mangalesh Dabral
  26. Manmohan
  27. Mitra Phukan
  28. Mohan Bhandari
  29. Nayantara Sahgal
  30. Pargat Singh Satauj
  31. Patricia Mukhim
  32. Pradnya Pawar
  33. Rahman Abbas
  34. Rajesh Joshi
  35. Sara Joseph
  36. Shashi Deshpande
  37. Subha
  38. Surjit Patar
  39. Uday Prakash
  40. Waryam Sandhu
  41. Xonzoi Barbora