Old Love


© 2005, Udaya Narayana Singh
From: Madhyampurush Ekvachan
Publisher: Vani Prakashan, New Delhi, 2005
ISBN: 8181834625

Today, an old love
appears before me
and asks for the price
of each of my songs
which I had, long ago,
offered to her.

She engages me
in a debate, but
did I ever learn
to deliberate thus
in the school of nature?

Yet my old love
won’t listen to me,
eager to chastise me
for each passing day.

She now knows
I have no strength anymore
to sing my words;
that my tale of love
is pressed between textbook pages.

My old shrivelled love
asks me the hardest of questions,
and tells me, “Use old words in sentences;”
rebukes me, “Your syntax is faulty,
add this repair that;”
demands of me, “Check if
what you say is true or false,” and
asks me to explain, elaborate
on every point she makes.

But I too have become a lot wiser,
my vision is clearer than before;
I do not stagger anymore
so I don’t have to seek her support;
my eyes can now read
the pain of the metre octave;
ears can measure
the celibacy of a symphony;
my blood has now known
the premeditated apathy of algebra.

A lot wiser have I become;
my hand now runs large and far.
I speak with restraint;
Even when I do,
I do not use the past tense,
I move to an unknown future.
I think very little now;
even when I do
I think in figures of speech.

My philosophy aspires for a feeling
neither stated nor translated as yet.

All else fades out.

In a haze,
everything –
the riverbank
the hideout in the bamboo grove
the hired labour in the wilderness
and the old love.

8 May, 1995

© Translation: 2006, Udaya Narayana Singh with Rizio Yohannan Raj
From: Second Person Singular
Publisher: Katha, New Delhi, 2006
ISBN: 8189020579


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