& occasionally about other things, too...

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A son's poem to his dead father

Harischandra Bhatt
Readers of this blog are probably aware of Harischandra Bhatt (1906-1950), the Gujarati poet, who introduced western influences on Gujarati poetry.

Earlier in 2014, a television program broadcast in India critically analyzed Harischandra Bhatt’s poetry, and evaluated his contribution to Gujarati literature.

It is an incredibly nuanced piece on Harischandra and his poetry.

My uncle Devendra Joshi sent it to me recently.

You may listen to it here: audio recording 

Meghnad Bhatt
To my dismay, the hour-long segment on Harischandra, didn’t mention a word about his son Meghnad Bhatt, also a Gujarati poet. One doesn’t know the reason for this glaring omission, but one can’t help but think that the omission was deliberate.

I’m reproducing Meghnad’s poem on his father.

I’ve translated the poem in English, and as this is my first attempt at translation, I welcome suggestions to improve it. 

(English translation follows)

સદગત પિતાને 

                 - મેઘનાદ હ ભટ્ટ

ચૌદ વર્ષના છોકરના શબ્દકોષમાં
'આત્મહત્યા' શબ્દ કદાચ સમાઈ શકતો નથી,
પણ પોસ્ટમોર્ટેર્મ કરેલુ શરીર
નાંનકડો નાદાન છોકરો જો જુઍ
તો તો ઍ છળીજ મરે-
- આવોસંદેહ મારા કાકાનેખરો.
તમારુ મુઆરમોઢું પણ હું જો નશ્ક્યો!
આજે તો
તમે જેઉમ્મરેઆત્મહત્યા કરી
તે જે ઉમ્મેરના ઉંબેરપર હું ઉભો છું
તમને હેજી હું આલખીશક્યો નથી.
અવસાનના અવસાદને અતિક્રમી જતું
મરણોત્તર 'સ્વપ્નપ્રયાણ' કરવાને બદલે
હું શ્વાસ લીધે રાખું છું
અનેશ્વાસ લેવાની ઍ પ્રક્રિયાને કારણે
જીવંત હોવાનો ભ્રમ પણ સે સાયો રાખું છું
આટલું પરંતું ન હોય તેમ
સ્વપ્નપ્રયાણ પણ કરં છું
સાચ્ચે જ તમને હું નથી આલખી શક્યો,
નહીં તો કયરની મેં આત્મહત્યા કરી નાખી હોત.

To a departed father

               - Meghnad H. Bhatt

A 14-year-old boy’s dictionary wouldn’t contain the word suicide

But if the young, callow boy was to see the body after post-mortem

He would definitely die.

Such thoughts may have preoccupied my uncle

As a result,

I wasn’t allowed to see your dead face


I’ve reached the age when you committed suicide.

And yet

I can’t claim to understand you.

That is the reason

I continue to breathe

When my ‘dream departure’ should have been posthumous

Through this process of breathing

I continue to harbour illusions of being alive

Although on occasions

I do manage to conclude my dream departure

Truly, I haven’t been able to understand you

Or, I would have committed suicide long ago

‘dream departure’ = Swpnaprayan / Harischandra Bhatt’s posthumously published collection of poems

(Read previous posts on Harischandra Bhatt & Meghnad Bhatt here:

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