Poetry: Translation from Hindi

Poet: Naresh Saxena 
Translator: Sanjeev Kaushal



Rain on the Sea

What can the sea do
What can it do with so much salt

Countless rivers arrived and disappeared 
No one knows- where
It has no account of 
How many it turned into vapour
Yet all the rivers of the world
Carrying all the salt of the earth 
Rush towards it
What can it do

How can it summon 
The sweet water fish
How can it face the thirsty
Where can it drown itself
The sea cries shame on the self
It rains on the sea

Who doesn’t need salt
Why must the sea alone 
Carry all of it

Is it a punishment
For its leap over gravity
Or a reaction against its size

No one knows
If there is salt in its primitive memory

There is no salt in its dreams, I know 
Since childhood
I have been aware
Of its longing for a spoonful of sugar

The sea laments
Within the three fourths of my body-
Now cloud
Now ice
Now ice
Now cloud.
***

 
Hunger

First it eats the brain
Then the eyes 
Then the remains of the body

It spares nothing
It eats relationships,
Be it mother, sister or children

It relishes children particularly,
And devours them 
First and foremost

What remains once the children are finished.
***


Termites

Termites don’t know 
How to read

They devour
The whole book.
***


Metals

With its separation from the Sun
The Earth began to rotate 
And with this began
Magnetism and the role of metals 

There was a metal age even before the Metal Age
There is a metal age even after the Metal Age
Who says metals don’t flower
These days, 
After water
They are most often found 
In fruits and flowers

Through fish and birds
They fuse sky with ocean 

When we leave for office or market
Or return home
They surround us in smoke 
And start dissolving in our blood

Metallurgists are worried over
Their unequal deposits on Earth,
They are depositing in hearts
Kidneys, nails, skin, and roots of hair

Right now they are spreading in our thoughts 
But one day
We will find them resting in our souls
What will happen then?
Hot in summer and cold in winter
Our souls will stretch when pulled
And flatten when hammered

It’s not that people are completely oblivious of it 
Many a time my friends ask me 
Dear Naresh
What metal is it that you are made of?
***

Table

The criminal was sharp as a poet
Who looked at a swaying tree
And said, look a table is swaying 

It was the table where he noticed
Fruits, flowers and chirping birds 

Finally, he spread a tablecloth
Over the swaying tree

I hate tablecloths 
Let my back be bare 
There are stripes there
Where my age is preserved 
Each stripe represents a year 

When seasons change
Stripes still pulsate with sensation 
During the rain every nerve is wrenched
Let my back be bare

Maybe one day 
A different kind of poet 
Will recognise me
Pull me out of the poem and
Carry me to the stairs of a court even if dragging
And appeal to the judge 
To count the stripes on my back
And the nails thrust in it

Will any judge see the lashing whips
And the marks emerging among the stripes 
On bowed backs

Because His Honour 
Will also have a table
With a tablecloth spread over it.
***  


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