This is a poem (Original Title “Mukti” in Bengali, which means “Freedom”) by India's Nobel-laureate poet, Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941) - a poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter. He was a man far ahead of his times - most importantly, he gave a voice to women through his writings. We celebrate the legacy of his leading heroines, who were bold, talented, empowered, and they challenged the embedded patriarchal notions of 19th century India. Tagore strived to be a feminist in the truest sense, empowering his heroines to fight for an equal status against the 19th century patriarchy.
Let the doctors say whatever they want,
Please keep the windows open,
The two windows in the back. Medication?
I am done with medication!
Bitter, strong - I had so many of them, Every minute, every day.
It is hard to live - that's the disease.
So many kinds of treatment, so many kinds of exercises -
Such a fuss for being a little careless.
This is good, this is not - listening to everybody's opinion
Lowering my eyes, covering my head
I spent twenty-two years at your home,
That's why relatives, neighbours as well, say -
she is like the Goddess Lakshmi, such a devoted wife,
She is so docile!
Arrived at your place when I was nine,
steered through the long hallway of this household,
dragging a life burdened by everybody's wishes,
at last I have reached the end of this path;
About my happiness, about my sorrow?
I didn't have time to think about myself!
This life is good, or not, or somewhat alright -
How would I realize, when would I consider the ups and downs?
At a stretch, one tiring melody,
The wheel of life was going on and on!
For twenty-years, I was tied to that wheel.
Like a blind in the mud. I didn't know who I was,
how immense this world is!
What are the meanings it is filled with.
I didn't hear what messages from mankind play music on a veena of time.
The only thing I knew, eating after cooking, again cooking after eating -
For twenty-two years - I was tied to that wheel of routine!
Feels like - That routine, that wheel is going to stop now -
Let it stop. Why medication?
For twenty-years Spring had visited my yard in the woods,
The forgetful breeze from the south swayed my heart at land and on water; Announced " Open your door"!
I didn't even know when he came and left.
Perhaps swept my heart secretly; perhaps made me make mistakes in my chores;
perhaps made me feel a pang of sadness from another life;
in my sorrows and happinesses for no reason;
perhaps the heart used to wait for the sound of someone's footsteps on a magical Spring-day!
You used to come back from work,
in the evenings went to join the neighbourhood chess-club.
That's alright. Why today all these little sensations of mind are appearing in my heart?
This is the first time in twenty-two years Spring has visited my room.
By looking at the sky through my window,
this is what makes my heart rise with delight every minute-
I am a woman, I am magnificent!
The sleepless Moon has tuned with me in the celestial light -
The rise of the evening star wouldn't make sense without me,
Blooming of the flowers would lose its meaning unless I were there!
For twenty-two years I used to think -
I was imprisoned in your household forever.
Still I was not sad about it -
My days had passed with an idle sensation,
I would spend more days the same way if I lived longer.
All the relatives wherever they are praise me for being such a compliant wife;
As if that's my success in this life - The praises from many people,
when I stay only inside.
Today I don't know when my ties are gone.
The birth and the death are the same in the boundless vast body of water, To that bottomless place, with all the walls from my storage-rooms
Like little bubbles.
This is the first time in many years the wedding-music has started in expanse of the sky of the universe.
Let the twenty-two years remain in the dusty corner of my room.
I have been summoned to the nuptial-room in my death.
He is my beloved at my door desiring for love,
he is not only my Lord - He is not going to ignore me ever!
What he wants Is the hidden captivating charm in me,
He is standing in the meeting place of all planets and stars,
gazing at my face.
This world is fascinating,
I am the woman enchanting!
Magical death, Oh my infinite beggar!
Open the door, please open,
Erase the tide of time from the futile twenty-two years! !
Copyright © Malabika Ray Choudhury | Year Posted 2021