Raai, Awake 5: Translating Ritam Sen’s Jaago Raai

Till a while ago, whenever I looked down from a high ledge, I’d retreat, afraid of a fall. 

Now, I enjoy looking down from this abandoned balcony without rails, strewn with blood-red broken chairs.

Down below another abandoned balcony comes into view.

Shadows deepen in the woods, clouds rumble in the sky. And in the monsoon, so many things still fly around in this city.

A white flake floats past my eyes and, cruising along the stairway to heaven made by the hands of men and rods and screws of giants, descends into a muddy dirt road – the unruly greens flanking which has been trimmed only a while ago. A balding, almost hairless man in white dhuti-panjabi saunters in, with a slight left-leaning gait, to gather water from the purified water tap beside the abandoned well. The puddles on the road shift under his weight. I remember – 

Clogged water above 6 cm can bring about Dengue. 

I like to imagine,

Long after the man has left, or maybe even a little while before, my corpse will lie beside that water tap – a fall from this high edge I’m standing upon means sure death.

Watching the daytime twinkling stars of fossilized garbage on the dirt road from above, I remember, Maitreyo used to say that these very garbage hide that master wheel which controls The Ship – the Ship that we look to every morning and afternoon, year after year, day after day. We look to it in the dusk, waiting for the moon. When behind the Ship the gigantic circle of the moon comes up like a balloon floating past the streetlamps, we frantically scale the ship to stand face to face with it. 

So much water in the world, so much moonlight – and yet, whenever I stand in a high place I like to think, down below lies my corpse – a while after, or even from a while ago. 

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