Old New Griefs

August 2, 2018
translated by Souradeep Roy
A close-up photograph of two orange flowers with lavender pollen tubes
Photo by Paul Streltsov / Unsplash

Grief that is now old, I ask it to come and sit near me today.
I’m sitting, there’s my shadow, and if grief indeed comes and sits beside me
I will feel quite good; I’ll probably say to this new grief, go;
for a few days go and visit another garden of joy,
pluck some flowers, burn the green leaves, destroy destroy.
After a few days get tired from the trip. Then come,
sit beside me.
For now, offer some space to this old grief.
It wants to come and sit beside me
after having visited several gardens,
lighting up several homes of several people. Let it stay for a few days.
Let it have some peace, some company. You may come after that.

O newer grief you may come after that.

Early in his life, Shakti Chattopadhyay (1933–1995) was a part of the anti-establishment, avant-garde movement called the Hungry Generation. He worked as a journalist for the Ananda Bazar Patrika and then as a visiting lecturer at Viswa Bharati University. He was a prolific translator and poet, with over a dozen collections to his name, besides novels and other nonfictional prose books. “Old New Griefs” is from his Sahitya Akademi–winning collection Jete Pari Kintu Keno Jabo (1983).

Souradeep Roy is a translator, poet, and performer currently based in Delhi. Currently he works as part of the editorial collective of the Indian Writers’ Forum, which runs two sites: www.indianculturalforum.in and an online e-journal of culture, www.guftugu.in. His translations of Jibanananda Das have appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Almost Island; of Phalguni Roy in The Sunflower Collective; and of contemporary Bengali poets in Guftugu as well as in Indian Literature, the English journal of Sahitya Akademi, the National Academy of Letters in India. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Fulcrum, Quarterly Literary Review India, Muse India, Aainanagar, and The Missing Slate, among other places.