Nineteen Thirty-Four | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 13, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 13, 2017

Nineteen Thirty-Four

Bangla Original: Jibanananda Das

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A motorcar

Fills the mind with misgivings.

A motorcar is always a thing of darkness,

Though its name is the first

Among the children of light

In the bright streets of daylight

And glowing gas lamps at night.

 

It's a creature of the dark:

In clear dawn light

While walking past green corn fields

I look at a motorcar in amazement

And see a 1934 model,

Glimmering, causing a dust storm,

Rushing on a red brick-built road

Going underneath two hijal trees;

Streets, fields and dew disappear.

The morning light suddenly vanishes,

Like a shy bride

Faced with a contrary view,

The field and river, as if, lifeless,

Suddenly lose poise.

This motorcar is a trailblazer,

It's rushing in a direction

Where everyone is supposed to be going;

The course of a motorcar

Fills the mind with misgivings,

Just like darkness.

In the stands

Beside footpaths

On the East and West sides of the city's main field

Are motorcars;

Soundless.

Heads covered,

Seats decorated and cavernous

Steering wheels and headlights polished;

Why are they so still?

A tree of a Kolkata park is still as well

But for other reasons;

I too am still but for another reason;

The stillness of a motor is for some dark reason

 

It is a dark thing:

In night's darkness, thousands of cars

Dash past

Paris-New York-London-Berlin

Vienna-Kolkata

On this and that shore of the sea

Like myriads of wires,

Like meteors of night,

Like endless enigmas

And with the endless resolve of men and women

They also run

But where they head to I don't know.

 

The destination of a motorcar – a motorcar itself

Has always been a mystery to me,

It seems to move towards some darkness.

 

I don't want to go anywhere so fast;

I have the leisure to walk to wherever I want to,

The leisure to wait and lounge for a long time after reaching my destination.

Let other people be excited

About all kinds of amazing feats – I don't feel the need for them!  

I am a hopelessly outdated man

In this new century

Underneath the stars!

Rakibul Hasan teaches English at Daffodil University.

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