Category Archives: people

Rhyme Of An E-rickshaw Driver

 

A few days ago, in October 2019, on my way home from work, I heard an e-rickshaw driver calling out in Hindi,

“Chahiye ek savari,
Halki ho ya bhari,
Nar ho ya nari!”

His co-passengers were giggling. I also chuckled as I mentally translated this into English. The translated version too sounded very good.

Here it is.

“Need just one more passenger.
Of whatever gender.
Lighter or heavier.”

Like plants, even poems sometimes spring up in the most unlikely places, don’t they?

Well, I stretched the poem a little bit more. It was so much fun! Here you go.

Together,
Fellow Traveller,
We will move further,
Ahead, past the boulder.
Whether
You are sadder or happier
Today, it doesn’t matter.

See if you can add some more lines to it. I would love to know.

Diwali (A Poem)

After months of planning,
Washing, cleaning,
Dusting, polishing,
We welcome Diwali
Into our homes.

Like a swaggering bridegroom
He enters our homes
With unruly, drunken friends
With their dazzling,
Noisy, earth shattering crackers.

For a brief period of time
We forget our sorrows
And we celebrate
Like we’re crazy,
Like the world is ending.

But before we realize it,
Diwali is gone.
Left behind are the staring deities.
With sore throats, congested chests,
We steel ourselves for the harsh winter ahead.

Diwali 2019

Photo and Rangoli courtesy: Suroshri Chatterjee

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock…

Just three hours, twenty minutes left…

And Diwali 2019 will be history…the bright lights, crackers, laughter, good wishes will all be gone…

I don’t know if you will agree with me, but I feel Diwali 2019 has been quite unlike any of the previous ones.

A strange kind of uneasy calm prevails over the whole country. Though everybody is following the traditions, praying, fasting, feasting, giving, donating, celebrating, deep inside, our nerves are on edge.

With RBI and various government institutions turning into puppets, our money is no longer safe in our banks. Live frugally and save, save, save, that’s what I was taught since childhood. But with banks behaving like robbers and constantly imposing new levies and taxes to eat into savings of ordinary people, parking money in banks no longer makes sense. Common people have no idea what the central government will do next.

Who knows what the hatemongers will come up with and where the next terrorist attack will happen.

Anyway, enough of negative thoughts. Something to do with my sore throat and cough, I think. It’s lasted longer than usual this time and we Delhiites are in for worse days ahead…pollution, even-odd, etc, etc…

Well, Happy Diwali…

Shadow

A Shadow has nothing of its own.
Its shape, clothes,
All come from its owner.
But look at it long and hard,
And you will feel its presence…
Elegant, dignified in its silence,
A character of its own;
A black beauty…

In life too,
You needn’t be
Rich, famous.
You may be
A beggar;
But you can still look
Strikingly elegant, dignified;
Your character, morality intact,
A human, a black beauty.

Deeply Honored

On 6 October 2019 (Ashtami), Aridip Chatterjee, a young 12th class student, got up to recite a poem in the Poetry Recitation Competition during Timarpur’s 106th Durga Puja festival.

As soon as he began, I got the biggest surprise of my life. He announced that the poem he was going to recite, ‘Staying Afloat,’ was written by “Our Very Own Mrs. Jasbir Chatterjee!”

I felt deeply honoured, humbled, and privileged because rarely ever do poets get their due appreciation while they are still alive…

Click here and see the video…https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IB6pKM7qAWk

Thanks Aridip, Our Very Own Goltu (that’s his pet name).

Shukher Desh, A poem By Golam Quddus

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!

Shukher Desh

(Land Of Peace)

Hello!

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?)

San Fransisco?

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)…

Hello, hello…

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.

Changing Times

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…☺️