Poetry / Translation

Three Poems by Geet Chaturvedi

Poems by Geet Chaturvedi
Translated by Anita Gopalan

The Champa Flowers – 1 *

                                                                  (Two strange and unbelievable things are connected
                                                                   by hope and by dreams
                                                                   Illusion extant in the foundation is belief’s sibling
                                                                   I embrace that proximity
                                                                   that despite all distances never gets disappointed all its life)

                                                                                                              *

I had said, I am glass, you would see through me
Galvanizing my back, you would see yourself too, your true self
The day I break, I will pierce deep
To sweep the jagged shards, a lifetime would not be enough
To love you was always playing with my illusions

An exquisite sensual love that happened in the dream
I want to touch it standing on my tip-toe
But the Champa blooms beyond the reaches of my tip-toe
I, sitting under its shade, wait for it to shed its blossoms
An unbelievable fragrance
In the guise of hope permeates my dream—
Look at me, I am a human-sized wait

I console that ray of the morning
That fell on all the greenery yet could not bloom a flower
I caress the petals of the Champa flowers
Filling myself with their scent, I question the Krishna of your room
Why is it that a bumblebee never ever sits on the luscious Champa?

Two hills are connected not just by a bridge but by a gorge too

चंपा के फूल – 1


                                                                   
 (दो अजीब और अविश्वसनीय चीज़ों को जोडऩे का काम 
                                                                      करते हैं उम्मीद और स्वप्न 
                                                                      बुनियाद में बैठा भ्रम विश्वास का सहोदर है
                                                                      उस कु़रबत का आलिंगन 
                                                                      जो तमाम दूरियों से भी ताउम्र निराश नहीं होती)
                                                                                       *

कहा था, कांच हूं, पार देख लोगे तुम मेरे
मेरी पीठ पर क़लई लगाकर ख़ुद को भी देखोगे बहुत सच्चा
जिस दिन टूटूंगा, गहरे चुभूंगा, किरचों को बुहारने को ये उम्र भी कम लगेगी
तुमसे प्रेम करना हमेशा अपने भ्रम से खिलवाड़ करना रहा

स्वप्न में हुए एक सुंदर प्रणय को उचक कर छू लेना चाहता हूं
लेकिन चंपा मेरी उचक से परे खिलती है
मैं उसकी छांव में बैठा उसके झरने की प्रतीक्षा करता हूं

एक अविश्वसनीय सुगंध
उम्मीद की शक्ल में मेरे सपने में आती है
मुझे देखो, मैं एक आदमक़द इंतज़ार हूं

मैं सुबह की उस किरण को सांत्वना देता हूं
जो तमाम हरियाली पर गिरकर भी कोई फूल न खिला सकी
चंपा के फूलों की पंखुडिय़ां सहलाता हूं
उनकी सुगंध से ख़ुद को भरता तुम्हारे कमरे के कृष्ण से पूछता हूं
चंपा के फूल पर कभी कोई भंवरा क्यों नहीं बैठता

दो पहाडिय़ों को सिर्फ़ पुल ही नहीं जोड़ते, खाई भी जोड़ती है


The Champa Flowers – 2

The guitar put aside in that heedless haze
Would still strum a string or two, on its own
Softly you had vibrated the same way, when
Gently on that stone platform, I had set you down.

You were like that vibration which lost its sound first, or the quiver
Stillness is an invisible vibration, gorge— a mountain upside down
Misery connotes— a joyless happiness, and
Happiness waxes and wanes like well-founded sorrows.

Under that tree was a chaotic grammar—
A farrago of dried leaves, nameless grass, unnamed branches
Broken from its own rules and separated
Breaking a twig, you too were, coyly—
Like some timid heroine of the bygone ages.

The Champa is another form of Radha
And the bumblebees, pupils of Krishna
But over the Champa flower, hover they will not
For betraying their guru it would be
While the Champa still waits longingly for her Krishna.

I had longed to shed on you
Even a desire to touch you feels like touching you
With your feet, you swept the leaves
In the midst of leaves, you swept yourself.

I am a connoisseur of fragrances
There is no logic higher than love that I hold.

Flowers are like women who wait, redolent with sweet love
Their sensuality is their own distinct individuality
The subtle scent, warm and sweet, can never be generic.

You had wanted to kiss me
The Champa of your longing had shed to your left
You held the flower, while leaving, in your hand
You were held by the flower, while leaving, in her hand.

The Champa is the sweet-scented consciousness of the wait—
A fragrant noun that names the nameless wait.

I could not let myself betray Krishna.

चंपा के फूल –2

गिटार को गुमान में रख दो
तो भी एकाध तार बज उठता है उसका
तुम वैसे ही बजी थी हौले से
जब उस चबूतरे पर बिठाया था तुम्हें

तुम उस कंपन की तरह थी जिसने पहले आवाज़ खोई कि अपनी कांप
स्थिरता एक अदृश्य कंपन है खाई एक उल्टा पहाड़
दुख यानी बेरौनक सुख और सुख यानी महराबदार दुखों की तरह उगती-बीतती

उस पेड़ के नीचे सूखी पत्तियों बेनाम घासों गुमनाम टहनियों का अस्त-व्यस्त व्याकरण था
अपने नियमों से टूटकर अलग हुआ
रीत गई अभिनेत्रियों की तरह तुम तिनका तोड़ रही थीं

चंपा राधा का रूप होती है और भंवरे कृष्ण के शिष्य
इसलिए नहीं भटकते भंवरे चंपा पर कि
गुरु के साथ छल होगा
जबकि चंपा का फूल अब भी कृष्ण की प्रतीक्षा कर रहा

मुझे तुम पर झरना था
छूने की इच्छा करना भी तुम्हें छूना ही है
पैरों से तुमने पत्तियां बुहारीं
पत्तियों के बीच खुद को बुहारा

मैं सुगंधों का ज्ञानी हूं
प्रेम से बड़ा कोई तर्क नहीं मेरे पास

फूल प्रेम में डूबी प्रतीक्षारत स्त्रियों की तरह हैं
उनकी मादकता उनकी निजता है
भीनापन कभी सार्वजनीन नहीं होता

तुम मुझे चूमना चाहती थीं
इच्छा की चंपा झरी थी तुम्हारे बाएं
जाते हुए तुमने फूल को हाथ में थाम रखा था
जाते हुए तुम फूल के हाथों में थमी हुई थी

चंपा प्रतीक्षा की सुगंधित संज्ञा है

मैं कृष्ण से छल ना कर पाया


*End Notes:

  • The Champa Flowers – 1: Radha is considered to be the lover of the Hindu God Krishna and often depicted alongside Krishna. There is ample reference of Radha and her love for Krishna in the medieval Sanskrit and other Indian language scriptures. Some sects of Hinduism believe that Radha was reborn as the Champa flower, and the bumblebees are supposed to be the pupils of Krishna. The bees suck nectar from every flower, but never sit on Champa, for she is their guru’s lover. Sucking the flower’s nectar would mean betraying their guru. In Botany, the flower of Champa does not have pollen, and that is why the bumblebees don’t sit on it. Champa is called frangipani or plumeria in English.

Mortal Form

You stared so long at the darkness ahead that
your irises became one with its blackness
Enshrouded yourself in books such that
your body became parchment

You kept proclaiming
that death should come – thus and so
As comes to water
it turns into steam
Comes to a tree
it becomes a door
As comes to fire
it turns to ash

So become the udder of a cow
rain bountiful as milk
Turning into steam, drive heavy engines
cook your daily fare of rice
The path that was cursed to remain forever closed
open as a door of that path not treaded
Scour with ash, the unwashed basin that was shoved under your sick mother’s bed

Light a match
Stare long at it

काया 

तुम इतनी देर तक घूरते रहे अँधेरे को
कि तुम्हारी पुतलियों का रंग काला हो गया
किताबों को ओढ़ा इस तरह
कि शरीर काग़ज़ हो गया

कहते रहे मौत आए तो इस तरह
जैसे पानी को आती है
वह बदल जाता है भाप में
आती है पेड़ को
वह दरवाज़ा बन जाता है
जैसे आती है आग को
वह राख बन जाती है

तुम गाय का थन बन जाना
दूध बनकर बरसना
भाप बनकर चलाना बड़े-बड़े इंजन
भात पकाना
जिस रास्ते को हमेशा बंद रहने का शाप मिला
उस पर दरवाज़ा बनकर खुलना
राख से माँजना बीमार माँ की पलंग के नीचे रखे बासन

तुम एक तीली जलाना
उसे देर तक घूरना

 


Geet Chaturvedi (b. 1977) is a Hindi poet and novelist. He has authored five books till now. Often regarded as an avant-garde, he is considered one of the major poets of India by critics and various periodicals and newspapers. His poems have been translated into eight languages. He has published his three works, the much praised two collection of six novellas- Savant Aunty Ki Ladkiyan and Pink Slip Daddy, and a collection of poetry, Aalaap Mein Girah (2010). He has translated into Hindi the poems of Pablo Neruda, Lorca, Adonis, Czeslaw Milosz, Adam Zagajewski, Bei Dao, Dunya Mikhail, Iman Mersal and Eduardo Chirinos. His second collection of poems will be published this year. He was awarded the Bharat Bhushan Agrawal Award for poetry in 2007 and was named one of ‘Ten Best Writers’ of India by the reputed English Daily Indian Express in 2011. He lives in Bhopal, India. 

 

Anita Gopalan is an artist and a writer. She holds degrees in Computer Science (B.E.) and Mathematics (M.Sc. Hons) from Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani.  She started her career in the Banking Technology sector, and worked for about 14 years in various Banking environments—from Core Banking to International Trade to Investment Banking—holding various managerial and hard-core technical positions, that also gave her opportunities to travel to different lands, esp. Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the Middle-East. She is now pursuing careers in trading and translating. She has translated into English many of Geet Chaturvedi’s poems. Her collection of translated poems would appear in a book ‘A Cello among the Violins: Selected Poems’ (to be published). She lives in Bangalore, India.

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