THE FIRE URN by Jharna Sanyal: Translated by Mandakini Bhattacharya

Mandakini Bhattacharya
A gang of subhuman creatures,

baring greedy talons in canines and limbs,

tear apart a lump of flesh in drunk exaltation,

deeply embrace and lick clean the last bloodstain on the 

mouth, the last scream.


Born from the womb, breastfed 

offsprings have crushed the womb endlessly.

The churning that yields only venom. Gandhari,

why once? Set the skies, winds,

rivers, seas of India in turmoil, and proclaim

again and again,

'Abandon thy son Duryodhan!' The mountains and valleys

should echo again and again, 'Abandon thy son Duryodhan!'


When this son returns home, a mother's welcome

awaits him.

His wife shall observe karwa chauth, his sister

shall solemnly persist in bhai duuj,

his daughter shall bow to him reverentially. Family, clan and society shall

be swayed by brief random gusts, then

settle down to normalcy. As it prevailed earlier,

the same, the very same.


The insides burn with insufferable fire. Rage.

Impotence. The urge to split the earth wide open

with a scream. The irresistible urge to destroy

all. These suppressed desires

smoulder steadily, and set afire.

I shield my ineffectual fire with both hands.

My next generation - who hold the world in their grip - 

I bequeath to you my fire urn.

You shall light the fire.


Translator’s note: This poem, originally composed in Bengali by Smt. Jharna Sanyal, may remind those aware of recent events taking place in India of certain specific incidents and places. But effectually it is an anguished protest against barbaric atrocities perpetrated against womenfolk in all oppressive settings. 

*  karwa chauth and bhai duuj: popular Indian ceremonies to honour the husband and the brother, respectively. 

Bionote: Mandakini Bhattacherya, from Kolkata, is currently an Associate Professor of English at Fakir Chand College, affiliated with the University of Calcutta in West Bengal, India. She is a multi-lingual poet composing in English, Hindi, Punjabi and Bengali, literary critic and translator. She has presented papers at various international and national seminars. Her scholarly articles have been published in international and national journals, and also in books. Her poems have been published by international and national journals like Better Than Starbucks, The Dotism Journal, The HyperTexts, Poetry Nation, Mad Swirl Magazine, Setu Magazine, Hayati, Sahityanama, Different Truths and LangLit. She is Associate Editor of the ‘Muse of Now Paradigm’ anthology (AuthorsPress, 2020). She was felicitated at the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th International Poetry Festivals-2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 organised at Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India, and also at the Indian Poetic Confluence, Hyderabad, India in 2018 and 2019, along with the 2nd LIT FIESTA, 2019, at Kolkata. She was awarded the Philosophique Poetica International Achievement Award ‘Master of the Word’ in recognition of her poetry by Philosophique Poetica and Grand Productions Canada at the World Poetry Conference, Bathinda, Punjab, in 2019. She was invited by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi and participated in the All India Young Writers’ Meet organised by it in February, 2020. She may be contacted at

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