railway track

Chance meeting in a rail compartment,

I hadn’t thought it would be possible.

I had seen her many times

In a red sari

Red as the pomegranate;

Today, she’s wearing a black silk,

She has covered her head

Bordered her face — fair as the white ginger lily.

As if, with the black colour, she has wrapped

A deep distance all around herself,

The distance that is in the last limit of mustard fields

In the blue depths of the saal forest.

My whole heart halted;

I saw a known one in the unknown’s solemnity.

Suddenly, flinging down the newspaper

She greeted me.

The way to social norms was opened,

I started the small talk –

How are you, how’s the family

And so on.

She kept staring out of the window

As if in a gaze that has crossed the touch of intimate days.

She gave a few, very brief replies,

Sometimes none at all.

The impatience of her hands implied –

Why this talk,

So much better than this to stay silent.

I was on the other seat

With her companions.

At one time she asked me with her fingers to come close.

I thought she was rather brave;

I sat down on her same seat.

In the cover of the train’s noise

She said softly,

“Don’t mind,

Where is the time to waste time.

I have to get down at the very next station;

You will go far,

We shall never meet again.

Thus the question whose answer has paused for so long,

I want to hear from you.

Will you tell me the truth?”

I said, “I will.”

She kept her eyes on the sky as she asked,

“Our days that are past

Are they utterly past,

Is nothing left of them.”

I kept quiet for a while;

Then I said,

“All the stars of the night remain

In the depths of the day’s light.”

I wondered, did I make it up?

She said, “Never mind, now go there.”

Everyone got down at the next station;

I went on alone.


Translated from a poem by Rabindranath Tagore.

(Image: Pexels)


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