“The Sight”by Mahim Bora

The whole rainy evening
My eyes sat on the plinth.
The evening spread on the grass
Of my plinth.

I was stunned
Green lightning struck still
On the eyes, carrying the hunger of Durbasa
My glance stilled on my eyelid
In delight
In shocked silence
The ecstasy of the first wedding night

Many a beauty fare have I passed, many a
Market have I roamed!
Wearied by endless bargaining
Despaired customers in shops
Today in my plinth
Hidden from all glances
A beauty enraptured
Shyness in the ugly, annoyed eyes
A very comely darling
Hidden behind a veil;
Beauty has shown itself
In the cracks of the earth.

No eyes burnt this way
In Kaziranga or Dabaka
… today in my plinth
With all the world’s grace
Silently sat a slimy toad
With stripes on its back.

A toad is a toad, it has no other identity
Even if it has wonders in life.
Then we are friends! Let there be friendship
And exchange of dreams between us.

[ Translated by SN ]

“A toad is a toad,it has no other identity/Even if it has wonders in life”-beautiful.Feel the empathy the poet has for the toad and his invitation to share dreams .”No eyes burnt this way/ In Kaziranga or Dabaka”,which ,though ugly or annoyed ,held beauty enraptured. The toad has come out of the cracks of the earth ,sitting on the plinth (of an unfinished building ,I suppose) as the evening spread on the grass of the plinth. The poet has pursued beauty all over the place,in the markets and on the streets ;beauty has eluded him everywhere till  this rainy evening when the toad appears on the plinth.

As nature poetry the poem excels in the way in which it captures the sight of a toad on a rainy evening. The imagery has none of the complexity such as you would find in modern poetry but has a certain charming grace at once captivating and memorable. A part of the charm is on account of the “exoticism ” found in such translations from the Indian languages and can  be better felt by an Indian reader familiar with the nuances of the Indian languages.

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