What Do You Call Gulmohar in Words?

Dr. Sanjay Bantawa

I was looking under the Ashoka tree
where a small sapling was growing
bunches of fire would bloom on it

BHU* would metamorphose into
Gulmohar at that time

The young wild boys would throw bricks
on the mango trees standing straight from the road

An old rickshawwala sleeps on the bottom of the mango tree
and he was just a bastard for them

Wherever you go, the trees are green

Embracing the sky made up of Palas
standing in a shadow beside the international hostel
Yashwant says –
“Hey you, why are you looking at this flower of India?
Your eyes are separatists!”

I didn’t see my own colour for days. No taste, at all.

This tree is not only yours Chaoubey.
The flowers that bloom on it
have not only your colours
Let that rickshawala sleep
If he wakes up in the middle now
his frustration will also wake up with him
his hunger, too.

Not everyone is like me, O Tiwari!
That rickshawwala of India
whom you have deprived for time immemorial
can suddenly wake up from sleep
and drive the rickshaw
and demand for his farm back from you.

O Chaudhary!
By taking away the gun from your hands
that rickshawwala could set fire to Gulmohar’s hands
right next to the heart of BHU.

One fine morning, if green trees start burning
I had asked Shashibhushan to save those saplings.
Let them be raised with self-respect.

That plant of mine –
“Shashi! That Gulmohar is at the gate of your BHU.”

We parted right there
where we used to sit and talk about Bengal, Calcutta
We left with yearnings for more conversation in our hearts –
“O Madhumita! Please preserve my myth”

My Gulmohar plant is not so far. It is just next to you

It must be growing up now
(what do you call Gulmohar in words?)
to meet the space in enormous head.
To get a shape
as if trying to reach up
and lay a hand on the space

* Banaras Hindu University is a collegiate, central, and research university located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Dr. Sanjay Bantawa is a renowned poet, critic hailing from Darjeeling. He is one of the proponents of ‘Sankraman Lekhan’, a literary movement. Apart from his books on literary criticism ‘Kavitako Sandarbha’ and ‘Samikshan’, he has poetry anthologies ‘Visangatima Victims Kavitaharoo’, ‘Mohadamsha’, ‘Mahabhiniskraman’, ‘Shabda-daha’, ‘Tyo Gaun/Tyo Bustima’, ‘Avartakaal’to his credit. After his prolonged service at the Department of Indian Languages in Banaras Hindu University, he is currently serving as a Professor at the Department of Nepali, North Bengal University, Siliguri, India. He lives in Salbari, Darjeeling, India.   

(Translated from Nepali by Raaja Puniani)