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The World of
Assamese Poetry
Hem Barua

Mamata’s Letter

Dear, here I’m lighting a candle. I’m writing
To you after a long time. The lovely breeze outside
Is lashing at the candle... Wait, let me
Close the window...

Do you remember the things that happened ten years ago?
The time when we wrote the preface of our life
... A strange intoxication whirled me mad.

That morning... a delicate, foggy wintry morning
The carpet of the fragrant, white Sewali near our gate.
And in the evening the first time
I visited your house, do you remember
... How the yellow moon beckoned at us?

Why did you gaze at me in that way,
At the riha tied around my waist...?
Do you know how I felt? As if you were a man from a strange and. And I,
I a Sewali lying under the tree.

That day in the sea of our mind
Trembled a thousand waves. Dear, do you remember
Do you remember what Deuta wrote to me?
"Dear daughter, keep smiling in your new home."
That was seven years ago. To me it sounds like the stories of the Puranas.
Last summer we performed Deuta’s death anniversary.

Your Babul has really grown
His tiny pomegranate seed-like teeth... a smooth tooth-line
He doesn’t leave me alone, even for a while
(Sometimes I get very angry... you’re not by my side ... that’s why)

Why does the little one stare at me? ... At
My white dress? He is used to it... since his birth!
And when he grows up I’ll
Put him in a school.

What more. There isn’t much to write
When you return, do let me know. I’ll go beyond
The river Bhogdoi and call you
From the Lohit... the day you return
Do not forget to let me know before hand

Love remains,

Post-script: You know, this year the Magh Bihu bonfire lit up
so brightly. Granny’s black goat has given birth to two little ones -
one white and the other a dappled grey.

             [ Translated by SN ]

Your Sweat-Soaked Face

Come love, keep your hand on my hand
And your lips on my lips
Let the clouds that lean against the sky
Come down in torrents

Down the dust-laden paths
Let incessant rain bathe the trees
And drown the voices of the birds
In the mirror of a forlorn river in some dense forest
Let your face be anglow, drenched in sweat.

             [ Translated by SN ]

Hem Barua was a leading Assamese poet of the 20th century. His collections of poems include, Balisanda among others.

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