How could I know the shapes of souls
who peer out from northeastern eyes?
Or touch the fabric of days unfurling
along Brahmaputra River, beyond me?
It is all mysterious and puzzling.
Verandah roses and Palash trees blooming
send essences, oils as keepsakes into houses.
And many-thousand years breathe in dialects.
The rich silken colors that have played
amid your years of singing and dancing
through symbols hiding in folk legends --
even my reveries lack the conjuring,
and I drift on winds of my pale words.
So I have no way of knowing how it is
that you emerged from ancient depths.
Was it the gleam in your father's eyes
that spoke wryly to you of imbalances?
Beyond architecture and sea breezes lie mudflats and the salt of tears.
In some slow communion with the people,
you took them into the temple of language --
a fathomless touching of their hard tales.
Used tools hanging in peasant sheds
teem with energies of earth and rice,
their worn handles elegies of poverty.
Fields and the mists that haunt them
give up their dead tillers, a dawn sigh.
You work them into lines of hard beauty.
You speak them into tribute and apotheosis,
clothe them in the living linens of free verse.
The forgotten people of India move in slow rhythm
against the counterpoint of greed and social injury.
When old ones and wide-eyed children of hot days
are broken under callous yokes, forfeiture, seizure,
young men and women seek communal elevations
to shelter amid red scarves and crossed bullet belts,
may stake blood on a mountain under Hegelian suns.
How could I know the shape of India?
But I have felt poems of human lives.
On the bank of Brahmaputra River at sunset,
your songs hang on the weary and godly air.