LOTUS HEART

- by Shankha Ghosh (Translated by Catherine Fletcher and Goutam Datta)

While the pyre is burning
You ask me to talk about light.
Fine, let's talk about light.

Hey, we could wait a little longer
And pass away the days
Counting each other's wrinkles - still, we’ll talk about light.

Yearning for the chandal's poker, you stoke the fire.
I search and search for my spark, talking more about light.
Though your laurel wreath's a burning ghat, I feel fire’s seeds in my breast.

While the pyre is growing within my heart’s heart,
Humanity goes on dozing; more fires start.
Then lotus petals ignite -

This is my fire, the flowering of my mother country's light.

Shankha Ghosh

Sankha Ghosh was born on February 6, 1932 at Chandpur of what is now Bangladesh. He got his BA in Bengali from the Presidency College, Calcutta, in 1951 and his Master's from the Calcutta University in 1954. He taught at different colleges, starting with the Bangabasi College, Calcutta. After short stints at two other colleges, he taught at the City College, Calcutta from 1957 till 1965. Thereafter he joined the Jadavpur University from where he retired in 1992. In between, he had spent time at the Iowa Writer's Workshop, USA (1967-68), Delhi University, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies at Simla, Vishwabharati, and as Principal of the Rabindra-Bhavan at Shantiniketan. A prolific writer, he has published some 60 volumes so far, including about 16 volumes of poetry. He is a leading literary critique, his books on Tagore and on poetics, rhymes, even spelling are as pleasing to read as they are appealing to the intellect. He has received many awards including Narsingh Das Puraskar, Akademi Award (1977, for baabarer praarthanaa), Rabindra-Puraskar (1989, for dhum legeche hritkamal e), Akademi Award for translation (1999, for translation of raktakalyaan). He has been conferred the title of Desikottam by Vishwabharati in 1999. Besides English, his works have been translated into Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Asamiya and Malayalam.