The Postman .
by D. Bala Gangadhar Tilak
translated by Versakay
My dear Subba Rav,o
Not to be seen these days ?
What?!You want me to write a lyric about ‘The Post Man.’ ? Are you joking?
Our ancestors have ordained us to,
about a beautiful dame, or
about the moon or
about a praise-worthy, courageous and stoic hero or
about a hero who is not so praise-worthy, who nevertheless is courageous and stoic,
What then, is this nuisance about a wretched post man?
Especially at this evening time !
Money will showered on you,
if you praise , a rich man. People will gaze adoringly at you
if you chant, the litany of an Exalted Minister,
Highly improper , nay abnormal and uncivilised , this is l
Oh, Subba Rav, After all, about a wretched posT mAn !
Can one certainly get any ideas worthy of poetry ?
Why don’t you assign me to write something about these, these that I list below?
The third 5 year plan
The tenth Picnic-in-the-woods Festival,
A business magnate like a Birla or Dalmia
A spiritual leader like Dalai lama,
The real reasons for and the inevitability of and the necessity for the war,
The changing-over of dynasties and kings
And you can look at my prowess then,:—
The graceful style, like the drumming sounds of
a cascade, the wave after wave of words,
soft and sweet .
I can, I will. Write heaps after reams. Lyrics, epics,
that would steal minds of people, entrancing them.
But write about a lowly postman ?!
That haggard old guy,
dried , emaciated, when in the hot sun,
a soggy rag when soaked in rain,
a worker with a pittance for a salary,
a pencil secured behind a lobe of his ear,
a sack in his hand,
in his khaki uniform ,
shoes worn out
a nondescript, poor man,
who goes on rounds,
from street to street,
Is he a prime minister or what?
So, you think so ? Now look at this :
Look at those two eyes which look like water-lilies, wide-open, in full bloom looking out of that window,
the piercing looks radiating towards the corner, of the street.
the eagerness,the anxiety behind those eyes.
the throbbing of her heart,
for the sake of a scrap of news about her sweetheart,who had left her and gone abroad.
Oh, young lady
Your craving to offer, your youth, your tenderness of eighteen years, ,that you have preserved pristine ,so long with care and caution, to place it on a platter and hand it over to your beloved, is evident to me, I empathise with you.
Your looks, form a line of bumble-bees, and
your hopes, sound aloud pellmell like jingle-bells,
They wake up the entire street.
They look all around,
They scan the street all along,
Lo! There he is, the postman !
You, jump into the lane in a jiffy.
A smile on his face that reveals , “no, there is no letter for you”
looking wistfully at this humble servant of the postal department trudging off, there are two limpid pools, two pink blossoms.
The ripe old lady sitting in front of her hut, her whole life, a passage through a stream of hardship and blood.
Her eyes half blind hold within them, a lamp of life that is all but extinguished.
The very life that she gave birth to,
the only hope that is left to her,
dear as her own dad born again to her,
her very life-breath.
She awaits avidly for him, for Simhachalam, the soldier.
Minute after eager minute, every minute.
“Has he posted one scrap of a post card ?”
Oh, Postman, go, rush. Quick, to her.
Offer good tidings to that wretched old woman,
Note the joy on her furrowed face!
For that guy who stands yonder,
for that epistle from his bosom friend, that is getting nearer and nearer to him
You’re an expert.
to a trader,
to a dancer,
to a thief languishing in a gaol,
to a murderer,
to the current day celestial, who is condemned by his profession to be away from his beloved ( translator’s note::the reference is to the epic “Megha sandesam, by Kalidasu)
to a man,
to a demon.
Yes, you are an expert, an organiser,
who can strangely, magically,
turn it around, the distance, the far off
onto a spindle named one minute, an instance.
To all of them, each one of them.
Your ride to them on a horse, that is luck
You are are the harbinger of tidings auspicious or bad.
In your magic sack there are,
deep gasps, loud guffaws and wide smiles, blooms, peals of pleasure, compliments, wails of anguish.
Which ever of these, at which ever blick , you would bring out to them from your sack .
at that very moment, you are verily a king.
You , who are acquainted with some,
you nod your head at some,
you don’t even look at some corners ,some nooks of the town,
You are a close kin of all.
You bring news to all.
Still your story alone it is ,that gets churned and tossed around wildly in whirlpools
You make rounds, you wander about all these houses.
Alas, there isn’t, one threshold at which, you can cast off the heaviness, the burden in your heart.
These many eyes. They beckon to you. Yet not even one of them, looks at or beneath the coat that you wear,—
When I look at you trundling away stoically, having delivered a letter ……
I perceive the rustle of a ship receding into the sea leaving the shore behind.