The following poem, taken from Acrobat (Juggernaut Books, 2022), was translated from Bengali by Nandana Sen.
(For my mother)
like a ghost
guarding the hidden treasures of half a century
his two clenched hands hold in their grip
the unconditional promise of asylum.
After all these years, the knot is loosening.
Freed from bonds,
we’ll go to the other side,
leaving the other prisoner of that.
the favorable exchange of glances
sealed the link.
That ever familiar face
gradually becomes indistinct.
A light from beyond
flashes on it, changing pallor,
like the whirlwind of pain
spins in a mighty whirlwind, pulling in its twist
of anger, of grief, of frantic and helpless love.
Will the umbilical cord finally be cut now?
Has the doctor finally arrived?
Nabaneeta Dev Sen (1938 – 2019) remains one of the most beloved, versatile and prolific Bengali writers of all time. Equally expressive in poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction, she has over a hundred books to her credit, including compilations of poems, novels, plays, stories, memoirs , academic essays, children’s literature, political chronicles, literary translations, and multiple volumes of his collected works. Her mother was the poetess Radharani Devi.
Nandana Sen is a writer, actress and children’s rights activist. She is the author of six children’s books, translated into more than 15 languages worldwide. She is the daughter of Nabaneeta Dev Sen.