Rain sweeps through my drapes
this monsoon morning, as curtains toss,
every door flies open toward the past.
The dry leaves melt away, soaking wet,
the footprints now lie hidden in moss.
I unfold my face into the rain,
I wrap my body in drenched gair.
Now, lifting my eyes, I stand tall
and, in this free and weightless light,
I say with confidence, for the first time —
I have forgotten all.
It comes when called. Like a pet cockatoo,
it sits on my finger, fluttering.
It sways its neck, fluffs its feathers, swings its crest,
and recites its practiced lines, uttering
every pleasing word.
My lily-white bird
repeats to me all that it's been taught and sings best.
Saying just what I want to hear,
it pours honey into my ear.
But behind my back, soon after,
alone, perched on its base,
my lily-white bird
clatters its shiny shackles
as it cackles with laughter,
in empty space.
Nabaneeta Dev Sen
translated by Nandana Dev Sen
Archipelago Books 2021