Spring Festival


Walking down the Scholar’s Avenue
at the end of the Spring Festival
carrying on our heads
unsolicited gifts from the birds in the trees
we head for my hostel room,
where the Beatles are screaming full-blast:
I Want To Hold Your Hand.

In my hand a half-burnt reefer.
A none-too-cold bottle of Coca Cola
in yours. Or perhaps it was Thums Up?

You were telling me about
your uncle in the army
who would remark on hearing the song,
“ Why doesn’t she just let him hold her hand
and be done with!”

My reefer had burnt itself out.
And your Thums Up too was in the last dregs.

Nisha, let me see your hand!

Now my hands are mostly empty. Odd jobs.
And about you, you know better.

But even today, every now and then,
alone, and in a crowd,
in an air-port lounge, in the office,
in the middle of work, and out of it,
in the middle of nowhere,
in the cinema, in the pub,
in the sudden onset of spring,
in the mornings when the rain never stops,
I sense deep within a painful yearning.

But all I can hear is a hesitant plea
escape my drying throat :

Nisha, let me see your hand!

(I translated this from the original version I wrote sometime in the 80’s)

Poem, Spring Festival, Bengali

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