ramdas

by raghubir sahay

transcreated into english from the hindi original
by shyamal bagchee

this was a wide street
(nearby there were narrow lanes too
–as there always are)
the day was overcast, dusky
and ramdas was, well, sort of indifferent to it all:
his end had come or it was getting close,
after all hadn’t it been said that he would be killed today?

he walked slowly along; ‘perhaps i should ask
a few others to come with me,’ he had thought
but that needed too much organizing
and he wasn’t up to the bother;
sure, there were folks on the broad street
they were all very quiet–mind you
they were not killers, not one among them,
still, they all knew this day he was to be murdered.

he stood himself up in the middle of that road
put both his hands over his paunch–
the people, let’s say they came forward
in a circle now, these watchers who were not killers
their eyes wide open, they drew close to each other:
they observed one who was to be murdered this day,.

(stage direction: the murderer emerges now—)
the killer–he comes out swiftly
out of the winding obscure lane,
he moves forward, calls ramdas by name
raises his arm, stabs deeply;
now blood gushes out freely

as it will in such cases–
did we not say, finally ramdas would be killed today?

our killer pushes through the throng
back into the dark lane he goes–
he always has things to do;
ramdas lies mid-street, quite dead;
and the people, Alook,! Alook! they cry:
they are not scared, they stand their ground
taunting those who doubted that a fellow was to get killed today.

[Translation first published in KALA, Canada]