Like Shakespearan plays, there are many poems whose effect gets magnified several times over when they are recited.
Take Shukher Desh, a poem written by Golam Quddus, a Bangladeshi poet, for example…
It was selected in 2016 by Timarpur Durga Committee for their Abritti (Bangla poetry recitation) competition during Durga Puja Festival.
When my husband Sukhangshu read it out to me, a non-Bengali who understands Bangla but can’t read it, it affected me like no other poem ever did before. I found it extremely poignant. The protagonist reminded me of my Dad.
By the time Sukhangshu reached the end, my decision to participate in the competition was already made.
This poem is a telephonic monologue by an old man talking to his daughter living in US. He speaks in a calm and composed manner with a tone of indifference and subtle sarcasm. So, whoever recites this poem has to use the same tone without any theatrical modulations. This is, I think, its strongest point, as it doesn’t put too much pressure on the recitationist and sucks the listeners into its depths like a black hole.
Somewhere in the middle of the poem, the man casually mentions to his daughter that her Mom died last month. In the end, he laughs gently and says, “You are saying that from now onwards you will call regularly? Well, next time the phone may keep ringing and no one will respond!” That’s the punch line…
Given below is the poem written in Roman script along with its English translation. Enjoy!
(Land Of Peace)
Kake chai? (Whom do you want?)
He, Ami kotha bolchi. (Yes, it’s me.)
Ke? Panchali? (Who? Panchali?)
Eto din por baba ke mone porlo ma?
(Finally, after so many days, you remembered your Dad, my dear?)
Kotha theke phone korchish?
(From where are you calling?)
Na. Tobe? (No. Where then?)
O, tora New York eshechish? (Oh, so you are in New York now).
Besh. Amra kemon acchi? (Good. How are we?)
Bhalo e aachi. (We are fine).
Mar khobor chaichish? (You want news about Mom?)
Ma to goto mashe goto hoyechin…(Mom passed away last month)…
Chup kore geli keno ma? (Why have you become silent, my dear?)
Kanchish? (Are you crying?)
Kendhe ki hobe, ma? (Of what use is weeping, my dear?)
Kotha bol. (Keep talking.)
Ekta khobor di ni keno? (Why didn’t I inform you even once?)
Tor Ma amake maana kore chhilenje (Your Mom stopped me because)
Toder shukher beghat ghotate chahn ni (She didn’t want to disturb your peaceful life).
Shukher deshe tora shukhe thakle hi amader shukh (Our happiness lies in your living happily in a peaceful country).
Mar ekkhana photo? (Mom’ photo?)
Achha, padhiye debo. (Okay, I will send it).
Ki bolli? Er por noyomito Khoj khobor nibi? (What did you say? Now onwards, you will call regularly?)
Tui amaye hashali, Panchali! (You make me laugh, Panchali!)
Dekhbi, ring hoye jachhe, dhorar lok nei. (You will see, phone will keep ringing and no one will be around to pick it up.)
This poem is quite popular on the internet. I liked Alok Sikdar’s recitation the most. Click here and listen. (https://gaana.com/song/sukher-deshe-sukhe-thako-alok)
In June 2019, at a recent get-together of Sukhangshu’s school friends, I got the chance to recite the poem again. Here is a pic.
Way back in the late 80s, when we came to live in this neighbourhood in Vikaspuri in West Delhi, there used to be rows of green patches of trees, shrubs, herbs, and flowers outside each house at ground level. Only one or two houses like ours had an additional floor.
With increasing affluence and expanding families, however, additional floors with internal parking spaces for accommodation of private vehicles were added to these houses. The green patches soon turned into concretized spaces occupied by more cars. You may wonder how these public spaces got concretized. Well, in its zeal to lay down new water pipelines, the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi), a Government agency, accomplished this objective after indiscriminately clearing up all the greenery. Very much like a juggernaut. The same agency distributes free tree saplings these days. But where is the space to plant them?
Those of us who love greenery are now compelled to indulge in our passion by growing trees, flowers, vegetables, and Tulsi plants in flower pots on our balconies and terraces.
If you look again at the pic on the top clicked from my balcony with flowers and a karela (bitter gourd) jutting out, you will notice how the rows of plants stoically watch the rows of cars below them ocupying the spaces that once upon a happy time were theirs…
But things are changing again. Parking facilities and roads are insufficient. Come November 2019 and odd-even rule will be in full force. Owning a vehicle is, in fact, a big hassle these days and moving around in a Metro train or an Ola or Uber cab makes better sense.
Well, who knows, what the future holds. We can only hope that the green patches return where they were earlier without subjecting the Indian automobile industry to the kind of extreme stress that it is reeling under at present.
Or perhaps, the concrete road will remain and people will keep buying cars; but there will be a hydroponic farm on every terrace…☺️
Today, on 15 September 2019, I made my own version of a green chutney with roasted peanuts. It was for the first time that I used roasted peanuts in a chutney and it tasted absolutely heavenly! My family loved it. Its taste was similar to that of a coconut chutney.
Before going for work, my husband Sukhangshu asked me to keep some for him for dinner. I took that as a big complement.
I wondered why I didn’t try it out earlier. It’s so simple and easy to make, far easier than coconut chutney which I make very often. Coconut chutney requires almost 10 times more effort and time. You first need to crack a coconut and keep aside its water. Then you need to extract the edible part from its shell after hitting it several times from diferent angles. Next, you have to grate the coconut. I have often injured my fingers while doing all these activities. Those days are gone now.
Here is the recipe.
Ingredients: Green coriander 50 g, curry leaves 1 tablespoon, 6 green chillies, one onion, raw peanuts half cup, amchur one teaspoon.
Method: Roast peanuts on medium flame and keep stirring to avoid burning for about a minute or two till the outer covering starts cracking and coming off. Switch off the gas and allow peanuts to cool down. Then rub them between your fingers till the outer coating comes off from all the nuts. Blow air from your mouth into the plate of peanuts and you will see that the brown flakes will all fly off.
In a mixie, add all the ingredients (peanuts, green chillies, coriander leaves, curry leaves, onion, and salt (as per taste) with about a cup of water. Grind them all into a paste. Your green chutney is ready.
Next time, I will use roasted chana in place of peanuts and see what the chutney tastes like.
Like humans, there are many flowers which have fixed working hours. They fold their petals as soon as the sunlight disappears.
Isn’t that cute? A special effect that only Mother Nature can achieve…
See these pics below. I came across these lovely flowers while attending a training session at my new job…
In the morning…😍
In the evening…Shut for the day…Time to go home…
We humans, unfortunately, can’t always lead lives like these flowers here. Sometimes we go against Mother Nature; bloom at night under moonlight and sleep during the day while the sun is out…😔