A translation of Eikhane Aj Iti by Saroj Dutta, by Souradeep Roy

Swallowing opium balls two times in a day
time passes by as I’m high and asleep

A street dog comes sleeps beside me
A cockroach comes and licks my cheek.

During the night on hearing something
the drowsy sleep’s steady beat
drops out of the cave
looks up and sees some men
digging their own grave
with a lot’a glee.

Choot went the sleep
Toot went the high

Since then profession politics
Very, very, very busy.
We’ll have to end it here
I have a meeting to fix.

SAROJ DUTTA was a leftist political activist and writer in post-independence Bengal. He wrote political and literary columns under the pen name of Shashanka in various Bangla Communist journals. He worked as a journalist until he became a full-time political activist. Even as an activist he edited the CPI (ML)-led paper Deshabrati, after his expulsion, along with several others including Charu Mazumdar, from CPI(M) due to ideological differences. Saroj Dutta was an avid translator and translated classics from Russian and other languages to Bangla, and in particular introduced Pablo Neruda and Patrice Lumumba to Bengali readers for the first time.

During the time Naxalite activists were being combed out and imprisoned, tortured and killed, on the night of August 4/5, 1971, he was picked up from his hideout by the Kolkata Police. He was killed in a fake encounter by the Police in the early morning at Kolkata Maidan on the same day.

SOURADEEP ROY is a poet and translator. He lives in London and Kolkata.

SUDESHNA CHATTERJEE KUMAR, the illustrator, currently a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Architecture and Regional Planning in IIT Kharagpur, identifies as an abstract expressionist and an architect and urban planner as well as a sustainability scientist in the making. For Sudeshna, the essence of her art lies in the expression of interactions and the emotions they evoke using different depiction techniques.

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