This poem is a translation from the original in Bengali, by Nobel-Prize Winner, Poet-laureate of India, Rabindranath Tagore - "Juta Abiskar". This is a long narrative, full of humour - I will post it in two parts. Thank you.
The Invention Of Shoes - Part 1 (Translation Of Juta Abiskar By Rabindranath Tagore
Said Hobu, “ Listen Gobu Rai,
Yesterday the whole night I did contemplate,
Why would the humble dust touch our feet,
The moment, on the ground, we step?
“You guys are getting paid for doing nothing,
You don’t focus enough on responsibilities for your king!
My dust soils my feet with dust,
A solution needs to be immediately done,
You will be miserable otherwise!
Hearing this, Gobu was flabbergasted,
Started sweating with fear,
The scholars were immensely embarrassed,
The King’s men lost their sleep,
The pots were lying useless in the kitchens,
There were wailing and howling in the houses.
Drenching his ancient beard with tears, said Gobu,
Worshipping Hobu’s feet like a Lotus,
“If your feet do not collect dust,
How are we going to collect dust from your feet?”
Hearing this, the King thought, rocking on his chair a bit,
Admitted at last “ I suppose, that’s true,
But first job is to get rid of the dust.
How to collect dust from my feet -
That problem can be tackled later.
If the absence of dust ends up not getting the dust,
You guys are not working hard to get paid,
Why am I paying so many heads,
So many scientist-servants with enormous titles!
Finish your job which comes first,
Think about what happens later, when the latter happens.”
Everything appeared dark when the king’s orders were heard,
The Minister brought with utmost care,
As many scholars and as many talents were available,
Numerous engineers from the land and abroad,
They all sat with glasses tight on their noses,
All nineteen jars of Nasya were exhausted.
After long discussions, they said
“if the soil is removed, How are we going to get crops?
The King demanded, “Why are there so many scholars,
If that problem can’t be solved?”
Translated by Malabika Ray Choudhury
August 26, 2020
Copyright © Malabika Ray Choudhury | Year Posted 2020