By Mangalesh Dabral
In my childhood days
once my father brought home a beautiful torch;
the grooves in its glass resembled the headlights
of contemporary cars.
The first machine of light in our parts, its beam
dissected the night into two, like a miracle.
A granny from the neighbourhood
asked my father one morning-
"Son! give me a little fire, from this machine, to light my stove."
With a smile, father said- ‘auntie this has no fire,
just the light, it’s switched on in the night
to illuminate the rugged mountain paths.’
“It would have been good if there was
some fire to go with the light”, said the
granny, “I worry about the morning fire
even during the night”.
Father did not speak a word;
adorned the silence for a long time.
After all these years, that event, the torch light,
the granny’s request for fire, and father’s silence returns
like a poem in the irony of our age.
Translation from original hindi poem Torch by Asad Zaidi. The original poem appeared in the collection
Naye Yug Mein Shatru (2010) by the poet.