The places that are left


By Mangalesh Dabral 

These days, I keep forgetting things, keep losing them,
I misplace my glasses, lose my pen,
a second ago, somewhere, I saw the colour blue,
now I do not know where it has gone.
I forget answering letters, paying my debts,
I forget saying my hellos an' goodbyes to friends,
regretting that my hands remain full with work
that has little to do with me,
sometimes, having forgotten a thing,
I cannot even remember forgetting it.
Mother used to tell me to go to those places
where I had last seen, taken off or kept those things.
This way I usually found them and was thrilled.
Mother used to say that these things, wherever they are,
make a place of their own and do not let go easily.
Now mother is no longer with me,
only her place is left.

Things get lost but their places remain,
moving with us all our lives,
We move elsewhere, leaving our homes, our people,
the water, the trees,
like a stone, I had washed away from a mountain,
that mountain must still have a little place left.
Meanwhile, my city was submerged by a big dam,
they have made another city in its place
but I said this is not it, my city is now an empty feeling.

Things happen and then pass
but where they happened, those places add up,
those places move with me,
reminding me of all that I have forgotten
and of all that I have lost.

 Translation from original hindi poem Bachi Hui Jagahen  by Akhil Katyal. The original poem appeared in the 
collection Naye Yug Mein Shatru (2010) by the poet.
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