Birpurush, The Brave man
By Rabindranath Tagore
Translated by Barnali Saha, Nashville, TN
A Painting by Barnali Saha
Imagine we made a journey together
Mother and I are going to somewhere far
You are riding the palanquin, my mother
With windows kept ajar
I on my mighty red stallion
ride next to you with valor
Clouds of red dust rise from the road
As my stallion's hooves forward strode
Twilight dawned and sun went to rest
And there we came extensive twin pond plain
Wherever I look desolation reigns free
No trace of life my eyes could see
In your mind you are anxious, and think, in what strange land have we come?
I tell thee, "Don't be afraid mother, yonder lies the bed of the withered river."
Wild thistles and brambles deck the field
In the middle the meandering road is build
No cattle graze in the desolate terrain
They must have left for the village after sundown
Where we are headed no one knows
For in murk nothing is discernible
I thought I heard you say, "What light I see by the ponds?"
Just then, there they came raising a hullabaloo
Trembling with fear in a corner of your palanquin
To heavens you pray for divine backing
The bearers leave the palanquin and flee
In the adjacent thorny bramble they skulk and shudder
I say to you, mother, "Don’t be afraid, I am here."
They hold clubs and have disheveled tresses
Hibiscus flowers are tucked in their ears
I tell them, "Beware, don’t you dare step forward
Watch out my sword, I will cut you to pieces."
With retorted scorn they leaped up and raised a tumult
You say, "Dear son, do not go!"
I say, "Wait and watch."
Valiantly I goaded my horse in the midst of the iniquitous mass
The swords and shields clank and hit
What a terrible fight it has been
You will horripilate when you hear
So many were beheaded, so many escaped
You thought, your son is dead
Fighting with the villainous brigands
Drenched with blood then I debouch
And say, "The fight is over."
Hearing me you step out
Lift me and embrace me hard
You say, "Sonny dear,
what a disaster it would have been if you hadn’t been near."
Everyday so many things happen
Trivial and not so important
Why can't for once this be true?
Oh! then it would be a great story
People would listen with bewilderment
Brother would rail in disbelief
"How can this happen, he is not strong"
But the neighbors would rave and say, "Thank god, sonny dear went along."