Friday, 7 September 2018


Image credit

মাঝে মাঝে তাই  শুধু বাংলায়  বলে  -

অন্যের থেকে ধার নেওয়া কথার ধার

বেশি  লাগে, ছড়ে হাত, মন, স্বপ্ন,

শব্দ শুনতে পায়  রূপক ছেঁড়ার।

অনেক কিছুই গাঁথা  এই ঘেরাটোপে

অনেক কথা দিয়ে ছাউনি ছাওয়া,

কিন্তু সেখানেও অবসাদ নামে

গাঁথনির ফাঁকে ফাঁকে হিমেল হাওয়া

সুঁচের  মতন বেঁধে মাথায় কানে,

বাতাসের ঝাপটায় সব অগোছালো,

শুকনো পাতার মতো  টুকরো কথা

না দেওয়াল, না ছাত ছাওয়া যায় ভালো।

অন্যের জরি, ফোঁড় - ছন্দের মখমলে

বেমানান  ঠেকে - তাই বাংলায় বলে।

in bengali

that's why it only speaks in bengali sometimes -
the edge of borrowed language feels too sharp
ends up scratching hands, hearts, dreams, it hears
the sounds of metaphors being torn up

many things are pinned down in this enclosure
the awning's made of many stories, words
but even so, exhaustion trickles in, 
spaces in between let in icy winds

which prick ears and minds like sharp needles,
gusts of wind ruffle and mess up everything,
fragments of words like withered, crisp leaves,
they can't be used to build walls nor thatch roofs.

someone else's stitches, threads on the velvet of rhymes
feels awkward sometimes, so it speaks bengali.

The first difficulty in translating Bengali to English I face is that Bengali does not have any capitalisation. Whatever line breaks one might use, the eye travels smoother over the lines, there is less of a 'break'. Apart from the other word to word losses in translation that is.  

The word Bangla is used by native speakers for both the land and the language so 'In Bangla' can mean in the language or in the region/space - can't translate those shades of meanings. The word 'dhaar' means both 'sharpness' and 'borrow' so 'dhaar kora kothar dhaar' - how to get that to transition into English? 'the edge of borrowed language' is the closest I thought but the alliteration becomes different, more of an internal rhyme - the end syllable of language and edge rather than the phonetic sounds at word beginnings. 

The translation is a bare bones word for word sense. Or maybe senseless. But thought I'd just bung it in because most of my visitors here don't read Bengali. What do you think?


  1. I don't know if you nailed it or not, but the posted verse in English is beautiful.

    1. Thank you. Didn't nail it for sure, translating is a difficult job.

  2. What do I think? Mesmerized. Both by the beauty of the script and by the aching beauty of the words.

    1. I didn't realise the script is beautiful till now - thanks!

  3. the bengali looks pretty on the page to me, and I wish I could read it in the original. However, your translation is impressive and the English words impart the difficulty of grasping/twisting the right word for your meanings.
    I'm always impressed by folks who speak many tongues and can roll back and forth - despite the brain pain

    1. Speaking more than one language is mostly great but sometimes the language itself doesn't allow any rolling :)

  4. Very impressed by the English version. Too many elegant phrases to list here.

    There are so many differences in the construction and nuances of various languages. That's why I always laugh when some science fiction or fantasy story shows an extraterrestrial with some kind of "universal translator" device. Could any device be so intricate?

    1. Nope, universal seems impossible. Talking about translating devices -the Google translator comes up with totally hilarious ones sometimes.

  5. I wish I could surprise you and write this in Bangla, but alas, I cannot. The english was lovely and the explanation of translating also.

    1. Bangla is easier to learn than English - no irregular verbs, all plurals the same construction, no genders for inanimate stuff :) Thanks for being here.

  6. Nila, other than Godspotting, this is the best thing I've read all day -- ' hears
    the sounds of metaphors being torn up'. Applause!
    I will admit I had trouble reading the first half, LOL. x

    1. Haha both Godspotting and language switches require tenacity!

  7. Replies
    1. Thank you. That means a lot - being from a native speaker. Much appreciated.