దేవరకొండ బాలగంగాధర తిలక్
Tell me this,
Last night, when God came and sat on my bed,
Looking at me sorrowfully with lowered eyes
I didn’t say anything, did I?
Gnawed by hunger yet sustained by pride,
Failed in everything and committed suicide,
I didn’t ask Him about that young man, did I?
Her youthful bloom for sale, her tired life a burden,
The young prostitute who hung herself at twilight,
I didn’t tell Him about her, did I?
News of her young son in China war (1) crushed,
In total darkness, into the river the old mother rushed,
I didn’t show Him her crushed heart, did I?
In Congo and Cuba, in Cyprus and Lavos,
Burning, stinking, timeless stories of mankind’s worries
I didn’t reveal all that to Him, did I?
Tell me, really.
About you and about me,
About the evil in the whole creation,
About the venom filling up
In the silent beautiful heart,
Did I ask him to tell the truth? Accuse Him? Hold Him responsible?
I know, I know (2)
The real weak link in the chain.
I know, I know
Tears rolling down mournfully down God’s cheeks
When I saw in the lamplight, I got up in pity,
I hugged Him, consoled Him,
Wiped the tears,
Went with him till the end of the lane, and bade him farewell.
I know, I know
When even human turns demon and defiant,
Poor old guy – though sire He is - what can He do?
(1) Tilak seems to have generally been badly affected by war – he wrote a lot of poems with war and its destructive nature as background. Judging from the dates of these poems, some of these refer to WWII. Moreover, he seems particularly disturbed by the China war – mentions it specifically in several poems. This poem was written in 1965.
(2) This and the next few lines are strongly reminiscent of SreeSree’s style (“ounu nijaM ounu nijaM, neevannadi nijaM nijaM”) – however, the theme, the tone and the compassion are entirely Tilak’s.
Hope you liked it.