Long Shadows of Reminiscence

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Kamal Kumar Tanti

Dr. Kamal Kumar Tanti is a bilingual poet and writer and writes in English and Assamese languages.His first collection of Assamese poetry Marangburu Amar Pita (Our Father Marangburu), published in 2007, won him the prestigious Sahitya Akademi YuvaPuraskar in 2012, for Assamese language and MuninBarkotoki Literary Award in 2008. NimnaborgoSomaajOitijya (Subaltern Society's Legacy). He is currently working as Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics of University of Technology and Management, Meghalaya.
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Long Shadows of Reminiscence

(1)

First showers of the Monsoon, and the earth and sky washed, awash. Green, I am Green.
And green is my world. My people too are green.

Who am I ? And who are we ? Do you, can you, recognize me?
I come from the crafted roots of tea plants. Green tea plants, greener still
And in their roots and soil do our lives and our souls lie coded, enfolded.

The forest, faraway, and I wonder that my roots there got uprooted – where was it?
And how was it that the dry earth, the bald hills
Those trees and river and stream got left behind long ago
My beloved – left behind
The forest and the forest songs that echoed through it – left behind – long lost in time.

The Karam[1] night, it was when it had happened. Our everything – left behind
The joyous drumming of the Madol[2], it then became the rhythms of sorrow, of loss
And the dawn that the night broke into, it let us see one last time – our river, our home.

Our home, it slipped out of my grandfather’s old shrunk arms, his shriveled embrace
Alas ! Fate and its games – his resigned voice then floated in the air, unto me.

Reminiscence, utter reminiscence!
Long and deep shadows of reminiscence!

(2)

My roots, and house and home and forest, my village –
All that I had left behind, in the folds of lost time.

Where was it that my traces were once alive –?
Medinipur or Bankura or was it Kalahandi?

Where else?

How were the wind, the rain and the dazzle of sunshine?
And the trees and birds and hills – left behind?

The colour of our earth
The colour of our trees and its clinging creepers
The colour of our skin,
Of our clouds and the sky
The colour of our swimming fish and fluttering butterflies

How were those colours of my past?

These colours of my reminiscence –
And the trees
The lovely loving birds of my reminiscence
And the green, green leaves

Can you return them to me?

The life throbbing in my reminiscence, I wish it true, true unto me.
My deep long shadows of reminiscence.

(3)

Green gardens of green tea plants and fragrance of their fresh leaves
– Reminiscence of those days
Swirls and curves of the rivers and the scatter of pebbles along the shores
– Reminiscence of those nights
Tree, every tree and the lovely loving birds
– Reminiscence of glitter of days lit in sunshine
Human bodies bloodied and soiled, and the weeping of the deathly owls
– Reminiscence of sheer nights lost in darkness

Every page in my book of reminiscence
Give it back to me
I wish it back.

My deep long shadows of reminiscence.


Notes

[1] Karam: Karam is a festival of the ‘tea tribes’ of Assam, its history dating back to their life in central India prior to being imported into Assam by the British planters. It is still celebrated by the plantation people in Assam.

[2] Madol: Madol is a musical drum. Men and women dance to its rhythmic beats.


Translated from Assamese by Dr. Manjeet Baruah

The article was first published at raiot and can be accessed here.


Image : Festival of Karam being celebrated in North Lakhimpur, Assam (Wikipedia).

Profile photo of Kamal Kumar Tanti

Kamal Kumar Tanti

Dr. Kamal Kumar Tanti is a bilingual poet and writer and writes in English and Assamese languages. His first collection of Assamese poetry Marangburu Amar Pita (Our Father Marangburu), published in 2007, won him the prestigious Sahitya Akademi YuvaPuraskar in 2012, for Assamese language and MuninBarkotoki Literary Award in 2008. NimnaborgoSomaajOitijya (Subaltern Society's Legacy). He is currently working as Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics of University of Technology and Management, Meghalaya.

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