A Non-sense Novelette
The Great Bengal Enigma
“Paharida, give me a break,” pleaded Chandu, “My lines are better. You have said so. Get at least one of my poems printed in any of the numerous periodicals that you control. I am not asking for anything like the Market Daily. Any one will do.”
“Wait, you will have your time, Srirup. Meanwhile get used to your new name. Have you read Geetanjali?” Paharida was abrupt.
“Kabiguru? Yes, of course.”
“What did you make of it? Be frank.”
“Well, in some places I was a little confused. Understood some. Others were beyond me. But I can’t say that publicly, can I?
“Of course not. But your perceptions are OK. Frank and candid. Now buy a copy of the English version of Geetanjali, preferably Rabindranath’s own. Tell me about any enlightenment within the week.”
“The meanings are a little clearer in the English version, Paharida.”
“Right. See the beauty of the Bengali language. The language itself creates a sort of mysticism, which is not possible in English. Now listen closely to these lines. My lines. Mind you.
Ashru nadite sikta basane
Lutie putie abeshe nibeshe
Thara thara tari krore—
Now if you translate these lines, how would you translate ‘tari krore’ whose lap? His or her? In English you have to specify the lucrative lap you are to lap up is a delicate female’s or a hirsute male’s. In Bengali you keep wondering.
“Now follow closely. A young lady of exquisite beauty is giving a public performance, singing this verse of mine, her voice choking with emotion, as her mind wanders to the amorous adventures she had the previous night with me.
“What lady would that be–?”
“There is no such lady,” exploded Paharida, “and if there was, do you think I would volunteer the name and address to you?”
“See the situation. The husband and the in-laws of the lady listen spellbound and wonder at her devotion to gods and other heavenly spirits. Some in the audience remain confused all the same, but many of the more down to earth smack their lips in anticipation of the true implications.”
“What happens if you render this hymn in English? You have to clearly articulate whether you are offering your body and soul to a he or she. No ‘se’ in English. The end result –no mysticism, no vagueness. Your mind fails to grope at the immense possibilities. Is it what I am thinking or is it not?”
“To attain the depth of the Bengali poems, English vocabulary should have a new word coined as ‘se’, which is neither he nor she. In fact, I have suggested this to some English authors, who are thinking about it,”
“Paharida,” Chandu mused, “if only I had one or two of these ‘se’s around me just for an inspirational cause of course, I think my writings would be more realistically mystic.”
“You will have your chance, my boy. You are progressing well and ‘se’s will flock around you in no time.”
(To be continued)