What I Wanted, What I Won’t Get: Sunil Gangopadhyay

– What do you want from me?
– I didn’t ask for anything, did I?
– That’s true. Then why do you
Call out to me like a storm?
– I don’t know. Look, there’s the water
Like silver in the sunlight
Like your eyes
The distant boat
It’s you I see everywhere
– Tell me truly, poet, what do you want from me?
– I think you’re a goddess…
– I’m no goddess.
– But you don’t know who you are.
– Who am I?
– You are Saraswati, and since the word originally meant
Female, you are within reach
Sometimes I call you woman
– You make me laugh. You always say
Whatever comes to mind, don’t you?
– Largely. Whatever comes to mind…
Why does it come to mind?
– What do you want, tell me truly. Don’t change the subject.
– Blessings.
– Blessings? Mine, or the real goddess’s?
– You are she. Across the table
The pale red sari
Fingers touching the chin
Come to me
Bless me, put your hand on my head
Drive me mad with your blessings
Clutch my hair, draw blood
From my brow with your nails
– You’re mad enough. You want to be madder?
– Only when I see you. Or else I’m
– Then it’s best not to see me, isn’t it?
– If I had spent my life caring for what’s best
And what’s not
It would have been a lark’s life, a robin’s
Or a wild cat’s or Mahatma Gandhi’s
Or the life of a worm in rice stalks
– What about a human life?
– Do you think I’m human? I was, though
Before I saw you
– You look straight into my eyes
You gaze for a long time
You don’t even blink
What do you see ?
– The you within you, when you take off your clothes and ornaments
The you behind all of those
– Is that really me? Or your imagination?
– Look, little girl…
– You just called me a goddess
– Same thing. The vessel of imagination is the goddess –
You are that Neera
I need your blessings
– That’s not very difficult. I can give it at once.
– You have so much, give me a drop
– What do I have? I don’t know
– You are, you are, there’s no greater truth
– We met on the stairs
You didn’t say anything then.
My lonely days, my unseasonal ways
Are all mine – only the breeze from my childhood knows
– Will you give me a fraction of your sorrows? I
Shall be enriched
– I have no sorrows – even more than sadness
A noble raptness
Has gathered around me
It can’t be shared
What else do I have that I can give you?
– You are, you are, there’s no greater truth
You’re a goddess, I want to kneel
With your palm on my head, blessings
But it doesn’t end there
Not a poet, I turn into a male in a flash
My restless hands
Want to grasp with all ten fingers
Your waist like a lioness’s
Like a baby rubbing its face on your body
As though fidgeting to learn a secret
– Go away, male, come closer, poet
What can I give you?
– Nothing
– Hurt?
– Call it hurt
– This is nice! What if
I name the illness exile
Not seeing you, non-existence
And distance, hurt?
– How much distance, after all? You remember?
– How did you think I could forget?
– You sitting here, your fingertips touching your chin
Strands of hair on your forehead
Your feet hidden by the pattern on the edges
An imminent smile on the corners of your lips
Immortality lies in this scene
You have no idea, Neera
The image will remain even after my death
– Will time stay still? What do you want from me?
– Death?
– No, don’t say that
– Then affection? I’m such a beggar for affection
– Haven’t you got any?
– I can’t quite tell. When an elderly man wants your affection
He wants your body too
Can you press your cheeks to his to give him a sweet warmth?
– Madness once more?
– Show yourself
– I want to see you too
– No
– Why not?
– Don’t say that. Don’t say that ever again
It frightens me
This is one-sided
Who am I? Insignificant, ordinary, a nobody
But still I dare your beauty
– You’re a poet?
– Do you think I remember that? I keep forgetting
I turn obstinate, seeking favours
– What do you want from me?
– Nothing. If there’s a smote in my eyes
Will you remove it with your warm breath?

[ Original: Ja Cheyechhi Jaa Paabona ]

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