Translation: Kamini Roy’s Bengali Poetry

                                 Kamini Roy’s Two Poems Translated by Srirupa MahalanabisKamini Roy (12 Oct 1864 – 27 Sept 1933) was one of the most influential writers of the Bengal Renaissance period. Roy was the first woman honours graduate of colonial Bengal. Born in the now Jharkhand, she had her early education from Bethune College, Kolkata. Roy is a powerful feminist voice, a voice so strong and forceful that it literally shook the established hegemony across different strata. She was one of the foremost to fight for women’s suffrage in Bengal. Some of her notable works include Alo O chhaya, Mahasweta, Pundarika, Pouraniki, Jibon Pathey, Malya O Nirmalya, Ashok Sangeet,Balika Shiksar Adarsha, Thakurmar Chithi and others. The unavailability of translations has made this poet inaccessible to us. It is time to give this Indian poet her due space.

In Silence
Like a fortress sadness filled
Not even washed away by the tireless flow of tear drops
How much pain resides in the dense hard snow
That can never be melted by tears

Numerous arrows face I in the crowd
Poverty-stricken, cheerless roam men and women
Thinking when in the peaceful nest, in the twilight of darkness
Forever will sleep men that live in constant pain

You and I do not have songs of woe
When the feet is pricked with thorns, eyes turn moist,
We do not bear those stones of despair
Beyond words inextinguishable inner fire
Silent lips, eyes are blurred
On the forehead profound peace, similar to death
Not once or twice, but thrice staring
Aloof, in silence, offer your tears to him.

As the Days Pass
As the days pass, darkness overwhelms me
I see not the divine light; hear not that oracle
Childhood fancies, dreams I think countless
All those yearn to believe as truth…
Of my present condition, like many others
I too move, meet chores: Oh! What feat
I hoped, how noble could I do but
Awakened to fetters in my hand cruel
Inability ceases this life
Unceasingly overpower, not a drop of strength
To combat, bewail in vain
In my heart hopelessness resides
In the anterior depressing signs rubbed
Stopped flowing tears, sigh, lament
Laugh when the world laughs, but impossible
This constant self-oblivion, what arcane warmth
Keeps me awaken, underneath the oceans’ waves
As hot current within the secret chambers
Beneath the calmness and felicity of life
The river of despair streams perpetual.

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