THE MONSOON GRIEF OF LOSING AN UMBRELLA : A TRIBUTE TO SAMIR ROY CHOUDHURY

200px-writer_samir_roychowdhuryWhat is the true identity of that particular force which controls the existence of a text – is it the encoder, I mean, the one commonly called: the writer, or the decoder, who being termed as the reader, can’t be seen, but is expected to locate the desired text amidst a hell lot of junk. Or, is it that hydra, called market, which is the ultimate engulfing factor determining the importance of a text based only on the readability & sale value of a product. And it’s a paradox that, the same text being hailed as a path-breaker by the market gathers heaps of dust and oblivion within a mere span of, may be a few months, is not at all an ‘impossibility’. But, at the same time, there always are a few, who are not at all bothered about these, who are stern and upright in their beliefs and practice, whose words stand up from the fire every time, like the immortal Phoenix, and who, although not being known by a major chunk of the so called readers, are themselves the sole lighthouses of a school of thought. Samir Roy Choudhury [1st November, 1933 to 22nd June, 2016] was obviously one of them.

 

It’s a personal pain for me to write the word ‘was’, as because, a generation of ‘writers’, both of fiction and poetry, have grown up reading Roy Choudhury. He was not just a poet, but something more… he was not just a fiction writer but something more…. He was not even just an essayist or a thinker or the editor of a very important literary journal called Haowa 49…..  he was, by all terms, something really more than all these combined.

 

Samir Roy Choudhury wrote in his mother tongue Bangla, in which Haowa 49 is an idiom signifying eccentricity. Yes, Samir was an eccentric. Because he denied the poetics of sweetness, the poetics of romance, even the poetics of the so called modern. He was an explorer of this language, and for that, he upturned every stone. Starting to write in the 50’s, he got associated with the then most fresh and young voice of Bangla poetry, Krittibaas. It wasn’t too late, when he identified his approach of new thoughts and felt the urge to attack the existing norms of his language which inclined him to the Hungry Literary Movement, a movement started by his brother Moloy Roy Choudhury and some other young and dynamic writers of the 60’s. As an official of the Fishery Deptt. working in districts and suburbs, he got first hand experience with the ever changing dialects of the common man, the ever changing thoughts of a race with time & space. That was the spark for his future course of actions. He turned his thoughts into words, in the form of poems, short stories, literary essays. It’s my own grief, that in spite of several words having been exchanged with him time and again, I have really been unable to identify the reason of his not having written a novel, ever. Like many of his readers, I too believe: had it really happened, it would have definitely redefined the art of the novel.

 

It was in the 90’s, when Samir Roy Choudhury, along with Moloy, introduced the concept of s the Postmodern to Bangla poetics. Haowa 49, being the mouth piece of his thoughts, released priceless issues & volumes on subjects like: Postomdern, Eco-centricism, Post-colonialism, Other, Limits, Meaning, Sub-altern, Diaspora and so on. He got closely associated with a group of like minded literary journals like Kabita Pakshik, who actually took the charge to change the approach to Bangla poetry as a whole. A whole bunch of writers, both young at age, or physically aged but young at thoughts were on the go. Samir Roy Choudhury’s book of poems like “Amaar Vietnam”, “Jhornar Pashe Shuye Achhi”,”Janowar”, “Bidurer Kharam”, “Mangsher Kasturikalpo”, “Postmodern Kabita Guchchha” and his last book of poems “Apurbamoyee Smriti Vidyalay”  are examples of a school of new poetic language. His Collected Short Stories, named as “Khul ja Sim Sim” has actually opened the doors of new fiction writing as a seminal text.

 

Samir wanted the poetic language of Bangla should be rhizomatic in this postmodern time frame. It would have many a root, many a point of birth, it should be interpreted in many a way. The same text should give rise to multiple sub-texts. Rather, the text of a poem should cross its limits and would contain stories, essays, reportage, cinema, counter-culture… and this already in practice in the western part of the world, should also be a part of Bangla in this era of Glocalisation. Bangla poetry would be open-ended, it would not follow any pattern, any boundary. Rather, poetry in Bangla should, from now on, not be entangled within the meaning of only poetry. Poetry should be a ‘seamless mosaic of experience’, as the Media theorist Mrashall Maclughan said about the television, or a ‘society of spectacle’ as coined by Guy de Borde.

 

As I have said earlier, Samir Roy Choudhury was not merely a poet, or a fiction writer, or an essayist… he was much more than that. In one word, he was an UPDATED INDIVIDUAL, one of those exceptional men, who are always hungry of getting acquainted with new thoughts, new forms of expression. Young writers always found him as an umbrella, in the shadow of whom, they had the courage for thinking of the NEW. With his demise, the title of one of his collections of short stories “Chhata Haranor Borshakalin Dukkho” [The monsoon grief of losing an umbrella] seems to be so speakingly true !

 

The line which he wrote in a poem, “Meaning thamte jane na, na kono sesh kotha nei” [Meaning doesn’t know how to stop, no… there’s nothing called the last word] seems now to be the real meaning of the poetics of Samir Roy Choudhury.

 

The following translations of some of his poems, selected from his vast range of works, is an attempt to pay a humble tribute to that umbrella, Samir da …. which we have lost this monsoon ….

 

CULTURE

the presence of the chair in a furniture outlet was purely of business

popped up bargains between the customer and the retailer

an item in waiting

a search for ownership

urge of substantial

the retailer had his eight

six more got added by the customer

supply-demand depend on ….. vocabulary

requires to be shown off in accounts

as if no cash memo issued is chronologically similar to a chair

even before that is the wood labour polish hours quantity

or even before such bubbling possibilities of improbable

at this restaurant a cash memo means a cup of tea toasted bread omelet

important in the time frame of hospitality

in search of a customer but not for self

the way possibilities bubble in the improbable

the way an arm chair turns to be puritan

efficient in reconciliation of memories rather than dreaming

the way every now and then a cultural wants to be organic

a chair with arms inherits pride

 

COMPLEXITIES RELATING TO AN ACE

ones who regularly play cards or keenly follow the tricks of card games

they must have observed that bridge rummy bray are all of three cards

but poker fish twenty-nine have a wider horizon

sometimes an ace is the conqueror trump

sometimes minor than the joker but moody than a deuce

sometimes a crispin is much more shrewd than a clover

sometimes merely a pauper

the more the flush changes the weight and life of an ace changes

a debate on the ace of a diamond can start

after the end of any round

an ace of a spade signifies a specific stance

a slot can be identified while passing through the ace of heart

as if it started with winning a flush

Heisenberg and Schrödinger have their basic differences on ascertaining this existence

we have learnt two types of bid the innumerable possibilities of each round

sometimes a man would go up the stairs would be still

sometimes the stairs would be mobile a man wouldn’t move

but we can at least come to the conclusion that

the four aces do not have any specific magic

and a game of cards is never an event to test one’s simplicity

because at the end one may still have the doubt

whether it was justified to flash a heart ace after

playing through five clubs

 

RELEVANT

a sleeping lake floats up through the centre of the magnet

rapidly shuts down the gradually exhausting birthday candle

it rains when mid day stops at the equator

a chirpy wave holding tight feels

a magnet holding at its centre attraction & repulsion

sometimes they just change their dresses

when one dresses up in the nightwear

the other side passes through the end of dreams

narrates the tale of a sleeping lake as the one whose

favourite things are the direction signals

never knows whether there are any epicentre or not

and even if there is one how it experience

the harmony of motions of attraction & repulsion

because the moment you talk about the last train

the reference of a date stands up…

 

 

FOR A PERSONAL SUNSHINE

the day a first afternoon sunshine came to

talk about life in this new house got to be

the start where from this house’s very own

personal sunshine personal breeze and wind

personal cloudy dark were born

all which are very own very personal of this house

the way one starts a living family with a few sunshine a few rain drops

the way space coordinates wants to get detached from the main discourse

the way I saw a pansy deviating from the western balcony

with the emotions of the personal sunshine

saw the thirst of my granny for sun rays

I still remember on our dinning table at Dwarbhanga

the tea accompanied by a slice of sunlight

the relation with the fading sunlight when the school end bells tolled

was a bit different

the way we have our gateways of solitude mingled

with some of the shades

 

the way a few sunshine a few shades get saved in the personal

the way space coordinates wants to get detached from the main discourse

 

RYTHM

inside of each sentence there are a few words lying on their side

inside of each word there are a few alphabets in mildness of voice

a few prefixes even entangled with a verb remain meaningless

a bridge between percept & imperceptible is maintained by verb

the youngest aunt provides her labour to the family silently…

 

complexity has the custody of

motion’s unlinear pattern

partial love, the way

sleep is unregimented the mask of rythm.

BIRD SANCTUARY

bird of poesia

you don’t belong to ornithology

thee, descendant of griffin, phoenix, garuda

your feathers rain over cracks of discourse

you’ve always met the enlightenment

in lavish offerings

composition bliss of family congregations

migrator, wherever you move

waiting there for you

is the only venom of the weathercock

and you keep on surviving,

picking on words…

INTERSPATIAL

… my mom goes on shrinking every day…

two card players

inside the same space

in two different time frames

the moon of Naogaon’s Jayanta

and the sun of Uruguay’s Federico

play online

win the flush

the inter spatial is born

the inter continental rogue pops up

playing on their bridge

are the unabridged bridging.

 

the lover of poetry’s river

is noise

noise again has his woman called silence

in a booby trap

of the love triangle

the river still flows in her

ziggyzags

 

SAMIR’S INCONSISTENCIES # 10

the girl named waterfall can easily be a rogue

this is her mystic pride but she’s still not

dehydra

 

Samir isn’t self explanatory

he is far more    meaningful in my own form

his incompleteness is Samir’s own salvation

his happiness is in confluence

he is my partner since he came down mom’s lap

the more I illuminate the more he’s vast & expanded

an open ended voice of

self sufficiency

Shefali manages her family

nothing so unmanaged like her

disarray every where in search of

soft & tenderness

her beauty leans over

pick it up whoever you can

the i the me only am in her galaxy

pick it up the daily

and she dreams of her

mystic explanation moksha

 

the written down poems are of Samir

unwrittens are only mine

WEDDING-HALL CROSS-CONNECTIONS # 2

the girl’s inside the room, the boy’s in search,

a squirrel has just now found out trapped

in the girl’s lips – the fragrance of guava,

the squirrel is running, chased by the boy

the left over guava stem is nipped by the squirrel

and in the mid of the lunch, the squir

& rail break apart, the more the boy tries to

step forward, the girl signals – pause !

let me do my hair, which you’ll play

and just then the squir hids the rail, theatrics

squir goes a queer, the rail nods between

duo-boobs – floats up with artificial

reproductive centre shotgun hatchery

hydraulics – all tied up to protein drops, and

from where walks the burning eyes in the dark,

that means – queer and queen – the poet

peeps into the hoard of queens and search the

quintessimal ; the background score whistles –

what are you looking for, my dear, philosophy or

history ! the backstage echoes –

your lips have the fragrance of guava –

WEDDING-HALL CROSS-CONNECTIONS # 3

clock on the wall, few men, busy, came out of the clock

and marched away; came out unfurled movements

of a woman — one of those busy, is staring at the

woman, her contours change in the plot — another one

nods his head, and the way a dog sniffs his meat, looks at

the land — the woman now watches a swallow

on the tree, points out that plain to the man

where the bird sits; the bird leaves the branch and

flies over everyone’s space — the busy men run after

the flying bird — they all enter into the clock — and

the watch turns to a bird and flutters away —

the woman’s unfurling, the busy men’s march, the

second hand of the clock, the wings of a flying bird —

tit bits cosmetics  gadgets furniture falling down from

the wings — gather at the junk dump wastage bin —

the poet drops down, picking up similes metaphor symbol logo…

 

WEDDING-HALL CROSS-CONNECTIONS # 4

a child cries with a blank notebook — his mom is searching for

writing stuffs — his dad

offers a pen from his pocket — well wishing neighbours

prevent — the pen would go wrong — the mom smiles

& picks up the pen from dad’s, hands over to

the child — he fills the notebook with

scribbles —

the child wants to draw lines

mom puts forward her palm–

watching his creations, the child cries in phase —

cat dog kite train snake river Ricky

Mintu — scribbles run on, assimilate

turn around, bend their heads, hip hop

topsy turvy — scribbles leave the white hands,

they clap — like Klee Chagall

Munch Matisse manarisms

the poet takes a basket, collects

sudden framed letter word phrase line

— all dismantling — patchwork

like variation sonnets

doha ghazal haiku shloka gospel parody —

form’s sumptuous godgifts —

the white notebook changes to vagina

the pen wants to be phallus

what continues is a prolonged wink

in between the child and

a poet…

 

[Translated by Kaushik Chakrabarty]

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