Three Poems from India

July 24, 2017
translated by Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
Mike Prince, “Black Drongo at Sunrise,” October 7, 2015
Mike Prince, “Black Drongo at Sunrise,” October 7, 2015

Where Would I Go

Where would I go
I shall only stay here,

like a handprint
on a door
just to be there,

I’ll be hidden in
the smell of a suitcase
sitting on an old ledge,

I will remain buried in a register book
under the letters
where my permanent address is written.

Or if I can,
I will be the bell
the donkeys wear, carrying salt
up steep slopes,
or a nail,
on a boatman’s bridge.

Where would I go,

You will see,
everything will stay as it is,
only my routine will change.
When the birds return in the evening
I will also return,
and in the morning when they fly,
I’ll fly away with them.

(Translation of “Jaunga Kahan,” a poem from Srishti Par Pahra)


Mother Tongue

As ants return to
their nests,
a woodpecker
returns to the wood,
and the airplanes return to the airport
one after another
stretching their wings in the red sky,

O my language,
I return to you,
when my tongue feels
stiff from
remaining silent,
hurting my soul.

(Translation of “Matribhasha,” a poem from Akaal Mein Saaras)



She is a gypsy
driven from all the cities in the world
now looking for its lost name and place
in the dust of your town.

In the democracy of mankind,
there should be
an ongoing long debate on grass,
and until this is not happening,

so to initiate this dialogue
I announce that in the next election
I’ll vote for grass,
and whether elected
or not elected by anyone,
she is always going to be in the field
holding a banner, a small leaf.

She is an obstinacy to rise
from anywhere,

(Translation of “Ghaas,” a poem from Srishti Par Pahra)

Translations from the Hindi
By Kalpna Singh-Chitnis

Editorial Note: Translations copyright © 2017 by Kalpna Singh-Chitnis. Kalpna’s work has been widely published and translated into many languages.

Kedarnath Singh (1934–2018) was a poet, critic, and essayist of Hindi literature. He received the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honor, in 2013. His anthologies include Abhi Bilkul Abhi, Yahan Se Dekho, Zameen Pak Rahi hai, Akaal Mein Saaras, and Bagh.

Kalpna Singh-Chitnis is the author of Bare Soul and three collections of poems in Hindi. Her work is widely published and translated into many languages.