SORROW INGRATE/ Kritoghno Shok: Chaitali Sengupta (Tagore Special)

Chaitali Sengupta

            At early dawn, she bid adieu.

 My mind tried to console me by saying, “Everything is an illusion.”

 Annoyed, I retorted back. I said, “There at the table is her sewing box. On the rooftop garden those flowerpots, that monogrammed hand fan on the bed. All these are indeed real.”

 My mind tried to explain further. “Yet, give it a thought.”

 Quick came my rejoinder. “Stop saying that. Look at that story book, her hairpin stuck in the folds of a page in the middle, indicating that she hadn’t finished reading it. If these are all illusions, then why should she be even a greater illusion than these things?”

 My mind quietened down. A friend came over and gave me his wisdom. He said, “What is good in this world is true; it never fades, never dies out. The entire creation preserves it in its heart like a valuable gem in a garland.”

 In anger, I replied again. “How do you know? Are you trying to tell me that a body is useless? Where did that body go?”

 Like an enraged little boy who keeps hitting at its mother, I too struck and hurt every little thing that provided sustenance to me in this world. I kept complaining, “This world is false and unfaithful.”

 Soon, in an abrupt manner, I was startled out of my stupor. I felt someone was saying, “An ingrate you are! Ungrateful.”

 Outside my window, the three-day-old crescent moon was shining, hidden behind the tamarisk trees. It was like the smile of the dear one who had departed. It was as if she was playing hide and seek with me. Under the star-spangled darkness, an admonition floated through. “When I surrendered to you, you took it as a deception. Now that I stay concealed, would you place your faith there and would you, in earnest, believe in it?”

A prose-poem by Rabindranath Tagore from Lipika


Lipika, a slim volume of prose-poems by Rabindranath Tagore, was first published in the year 1922. In this book, Tagore muses about the dusk and the dawn, about the cloud messenger, about a rambling path. His key thoughts in this book focus on the day-to-day activities, fairy tale, mythology, but his deep poetic sensibility runs throughout the verses. He conveys the mundane incidents and trivial ideas through delicate words and renders them momentous.

This collection, therefore, contains some of his finest and most delicate works, and that makes Lipika very unique.

In Lipika, Tagore experimented with what he named ‘Gadya kabita’ (prose-poems) in Bengali. To understand his prosodical experiments, a close reading of Lipika is an absolute must. Here he keeps aside all constraints of form and uses ‘free verse’ and yet as we read through the mellifluous creations, we can see that the lilting, musical lyricism is not absent.

Translated by Chaitali Sengupta


BioChaitali Sengupta writes and translates poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Her first book of poetry Cross Stitched Words is a recipient of the Honorable Mention award at the New England Book Festival 2021. Her latest work of translation is Timeless Tales in Translation, a collection of 12 short stories by Indian authors.

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