विष्णु खरे की कवितायें, अंग्रेजी अनुवाद में

एक वरिष्ठ कवि-आलोचक के शब्दों में ‘हिन्दी के लीलापुरूष’ विष्णु खरे की इन चार कविताओं का राहुल और मैंने प्रतिलिपि के दिसम्बर 2008 वाले अंक के लिये अनुवाद किया था। उन्हें यह अनुवाद अच्छे लगे थे और उन्होंने ममता कालिया को इनके बारे में बताया। ममताजी ने वर्धा विश्वविद्यालय की अंग्रेजी पत्रिका हिन्दी में भी इन्हें प्रकाशित किया था।

Krishna, to Draupadi

how long it has been since you last called me

the two or three times you did required no great valor

from between embarrassed timidity and arrogant cowardice

just an ordinary courage and the desire to be near you

and every time as I returned I knew that all you said to me

would be debased by people calling it a prayer a plea

you, the pious wife of five warrior husbands

I, the louche lover of countless gopis and queens

and the hero of countless stories that speak of Radha’s rapturous love

the very mention of which would later unsettle and annoy me

but who would believe that there was always something about you

so that when we were left alone in the palace

in full understanding of our mutual intent

we would not even desire each other’s touch

and as I would return in silence

on the long road from Indraprasth to Dwarka

it was not the chariot’s rattle

but the echo of your voice the light of your eyes

and my charioteer vexed from turning back again and again

and then I saw before my very eyes

your kin and mine the people we loved dying

I saw you returning to camp tending to your wounded husbands

all this as I was speaking to Arjun

and watching Kripacharya succeed

both Kauravs and Pandavs must have been baffled by my smile

but I could see your eyes over all of Kurukshetra

and it was because of them that I came to live

in Dwarka, far away from friends

it is my moment now

fulfilling every prophecy every curse every ill omen

my charioteer, always vexed, has gone

and I sit waiting for that imprudent hunter

to mistake my foot for the head of a deer

my queens whose names I cannot even properly recall

who are now well past their youth

I have left to Arjun

my aging friend your now feeble husband

the impatient sea keeps turning back from Dwarka’s shore

I have no message for you but when

were messages ever necessary between us

yes, I see your husbands setting out with you in tow

and that you will be the first to fall, you will be left behind

in their well-meaning pride these descendants of Kuru

have seldom turned to look at truth

then, leaving your body, you will say Krishna and find

that I am as close to you as I always was

we will walk together watching your husbands fall one by one

and listen to the familiar pietism of your eldest husband’s words

seeing their last sublime presumption you will look at me

and I will smile remembering suddenly, neither you nor I will know why

my long forgotten flute and Radha

drawn to its music


if I had been born in the romantic age

of European classical music and if I had feudal riches

I would call Beethoven, Haydn or Mozart and ask

how much will you take

to write a new piece

which shall, of course, have a full orchestra

but space too for a piano solo

one female and one male voice

and a chorus

with men women and children at once

they would say

it is not a question of wages

but your request is absurd

it violates all rules of composition

a symphony has no solos

vocals have never been heard of in concertos

an opera can have a chorus and all sorts of singers

but where will we fit

a piano or any other solo in it

I would reply

why else would I trouble great composers like you

when I hear your symphonies

I miss the piano and solo singers

or suddenly while hearing a concerto

I start hearing many voices together or separately

and did you never feel

how much better it would be

if the aria in an opera was not accompanied by a symphony

but by a single piano violin or oboe

playing softly

what you will call such a composition

I leave up to you

our language does not lack in musical vocabulary

so can you compose such a piece?

they would look at me and at each other

and would not let their expressions betray what they thought of me

you will have to excuse us they would say and leave

from distant corridors Beethoven’s curses

and Haydn and Mozart’s laughter would echo

surprised and appalled by the prejudices of great artists

ignorant of technique but somewhat familiar

with the endless variety and scope of music and notes

and dedicated to them

I would then create in my heart and listen

to a composition of words and sounds in the hope

that perhaps one day someone would really create it

and give it a name

The Missing

in the Shradra up-parv of the Mahabharat’s Stree-parv

there are two shloks that hold special interest

for scholars interested in obscure figures –

the second of these is more intriguing

after the war when Dhritrashtra asks Yudhishthir

how many died in the great war and how many lived

it is a sign of pure scientific curiosity

despite the near total destruction of clan and civilization

and Yudhishthir’s answer too

is an unprecedented example

of receiving and remembering facts

objectively amidst the horrors of war

when he says in this war o king of kings

one billion six hundred million and twenty thousand warriors have died

there is a precision to his answer

from the billion right down to the thousand

that gives it rare authority

even further, in the second shlok

when he says the number of soldiers missing after the war

is twenty four thousand one hundred and sixty five

it is probably the first time in human history

that missing soldiers are mentioned

and such a precise number not only seems authentic

it vexes us and makes us curious

it vexes us because he does not ask

how many of these missing are Pandavs

how many Kauravs

how many maharathis, athirathis, ekrathis and others

and throws no light

on which kingdom they belonged to, which legion

in the rest of the Mahabharat one never finds out

if any attempts were made

to find these missing and absconding soldiers

today we want to know

where these 24,165 went

where did they hide or what happened to them when they returned

had they run off in fear or in frustration

were they disillusioned or distressed

or did their platoons keep fighting for years

among themselves a number of little Mahabharats

even when the mother of these battles was long over

the missing of Kurukshetra are still missing

they probably did not think it right to fight and go to heaven

they embraced life, it is just as well

because the Mahabharat is also silent

about the names and the families

of the one billion six hundred million and twenty thousand

who did go to heaven

who carries the seed and ideas

of those unaccounted for

who can say

and is there an estimate

of what they contributed to what civilization

and the contributions of those who lived

because they did not fight

who knows whether some or all of them

individually or together

wrote their own Mahabharats partial or complete

who knows whether some of them

defeated Arjun as he was returning with his queens

because the Mahabharat as we have it

is one-sided despite its greatness

or two-sided at best

and if not Balram or the people of Dwarka

at least one of these 24,165

should have left behind their version

but to find a place in history

it is almost essential to be found alive or dead

the missing are never mentioned

a single shlok by one of them if found

can cast doubt over

Sanjay’s official accepted and convenient

eyewitness account

who knows one of us might be their descendant

and say that single shlok someday

Score Book

my two greatest moments in cricket do not appear

in any book of statistics or records

who takes a Sunday match among

middle-school boys seriously

teams of less than eleven

bats old new too big too small bound with tape

a leather ball made by the cobbler at Town Hall

stumps uneven and at only one end

no question of half-matting

we had never even seen much less touched a score book

score was kept on the last pages of a rough notebook

nevertheless a hat-trick is a hat-trick

at least for the one who got it

even if it was in the conditions described above

forty-one years later and for life

what happened that evening at four o’ clock

how three successive balls landed on the same spot

off-breaked in the same way and how

Ramesh Surendra and Madan were clean bowled (clean bowled!)

one after another in the same way

Ramesh was our Tendulkar

what do thirteen year olds know of playing of batting and bowling

but that day a god must have been watching out for me

over that corner of the school grounds

now buried forever under the new building

as if someone had complained

the other historic moment was at a college tournament when

after getting out for a duck on a full-toss in a very unhistoric way –

because of which already my stock was beginning to fall

among my doubting friends and the spectators from school in the pavilion

to the extent of possibly losing my place in the side –

I suddenly took three catches of Burhanpur’s team

the first at cover-point the second at mid-on the third at short square-leg

of these the first was possibly Jayprakash Choksey and was not easy

I can’t say how I ended up catching three

someone whose place in the side has become insecure

finds everything on the ground difficult seems perplexed

more so when he takes a brilliant catch

and his friends start laughing in disbelief

even those who weren’t won over after the third

were amazed

and that was how my place in the team was cemented

(how I got the captaincy – fast becoming a dubious distinction – is another story)

a whole philosophy has come up around sports

in which sportsmanship team-work friendly rivalry

you win some you lose some and more such misconceptions are included

but who will explain to me my hat-trick and those three tumbling catches

and even more

why these petty successes get recorded

in some score book

Single Wicket Series

I have just taken guard once more

made sure my shoes gloves helmet are secure

evened out the pitch with my bat

a little confident a little nervous

I have been beaten a couple of times now

but I’m waiting for the next ball

thousands of lights from four towers illuminate the stadium

giving everything on the ground four shadows

and I in the center of my four-shadowed crosshairs

the fifth

strange silence in the galleries

is everyone holding their breath at this moment

and then he appears at the other end

fast as a horse-rider yet almost moon-walking

a cape fluttering behind his black costume

he hurls the ball with a toss of the head

his claw revealed for a moment

the lines of his jaw and temple becoming clear

his eyes are sunken and appear like black holes

his teeth shine who is he I have never played him but

it seems as if I have seen him before

my feet have turned to lead

my bat to stone

my heart and hand to ice my lips cracking

and I hear behind my legs and on my chest that familiar sound

as if a gust of wind opening the door to a lab

rattles the skeleton on the wall

who turned off the lights suddenly

why have the spectators gone dumb

is it just the sound of wind in the stadium

how have I come out of my petrified paralysis

as if released from all encumbrances

and in his unbound momentum he has come right up to me

I feel on my shoulder

his encouraging but strong insistent hold

then still in the darkness finally recognizing his black shape I say

well bowled sir

the pitch the ground the unlit lights the dark stadium

everything seems to be going down

and he keeps throwing the ball into my hands and I back to him

till we disappear

to play some solitary game in some other place…


एक उत्तर दें

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