12th may 2005

Looking up Indian poets; thinking, how well they do languor (Pauline Kael once wrote, rather cattily but then I don't trust the woman, that the male characters in Ray's films tended to be horizontal men); came across Tusar Roy, who died in 1977 at 43; who walked backwards in traffic with his eyes shut to see what would happen; who once ordered (in metre) a mounted policeman to doff his hat to him, the poet; who wrote this delicious poem, simple and domestic as a Gary Snyder:

Only Snow Drips Down Silently

Under cloudy sky of the queen of hills
All leave Darjeeling
Climbing down the famous and spiralling railway track.
It is now perfectly quiet all around,
Except the distant bells from the gompah, sounding solemn and deep,
And tiny flecks of snow and cold dewdrops,
That keep falling through.
Only Nikhil, Surekha and me have stayed back
Here at this 'Moonlight Grove'
Nilgiri coffee is whistling in the kettle
And a bottle of 'old monk rum' waits on the table
The trembling flames of fire-woods
Are flashing on the bottle and the glass.
We slept long till noon like a winter snake,
We chose to sleep together, all three in a row,
Nikhil and me on the flanks,
With Surekha Sanyal like a sandwich, in between.
We had agreed this and the deal is kept,
And will remain as thus.
It will be raining in our sleep,
Snow will drip down the firs and the pines,
The cold winter night will be colder and still . . .
But when my sleep was broken
I found nobody around!
Nikhil or Surekha Sanyal
All having vanished like dreams
Only Jung Bahadur standing with a cup of coffee in his hand
And the bells of the Tibetan gompah sounding from a distant hill.
This much and with nobody else around,
Snow flecks were dripping in the forest, far and near,
Only snow, drip after drip,
Endless, silent and deep.

- Tusar Roy  (translated from the Bengali)