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Translation From Rabindranath Tagore (Nobel-Laureate in 1913) - Malabika Ray Choudhury's Blog

About Malabika Ray Choudhury
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I am a Canadian teacher, Creative writing is my passion. My early years were spent in India, and later in the Middle East. I am finally settled in Canada, and enjoying my profession as a teacher. Writing is my first passion, but I also immensely enjoy music and art.

In the beginning of 2020, I have published a collection of poems on amazon, called "Without Me, Without You".

A Reader's comment about the book: Beautifully vivid, and delightful verses! Malabika’s gift with words can be compared to an artist expressing beauty and feelings on canvas with paint and brush. Verses I can read in mid winter and feel spring in my heart.

I write equally in two languages - definitely in English, and also in Bengali, which is a regional language in the eastern part of India. I have translated a few famous Bengali poems (mainly by Rabindranath Tagore) in English, and hope to publish a collection in future. 






Translation From Rabindranath Tagore (Nobel-Laureate in 1913)

Blog Posted:6/12/2020 6:20:00 AM


  • Hello My Friends, Today I am sharing my translation of a famous poem (Sadharan Meye) written by Rabindranath Tagore, who won Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. It's one of his story-like poems, written in Bengali, which is one of the regional languages in India, and the National Language of Bangladesh. I grew up in India, and I grew up with this language and with the works of this poet, who was not only a poet,  but a Song-writer, Novelist, Short Story-writer, Dramatist, Essayist, covering every part of the literature. He was the first non-European to get a Nobel Prize. We have to remember this poem was written more than hundred years ago - in a different era, in a different culture. To me, it is a voice of women empowerment. 

  • I started translating poems in English a few years before, and by now I have a collection of translations of his work, and the work of a few other renowned poems. I thought, perhaps it would be something valuable to share with my poet-friends at this site.

                                   An Ordinary Girl

I am a girl from


the inner court

You wouldn't recognize me.
I have read your novel, the last one to be published,
“ The Garland of Withered Flowers”!
Your heroine “ Elokeshi” fell in love at the age of thirty-five,
She was competing with a twenty-five year old,
I have to say – you were so generous,
You had her win!

Let me tell you my story.
I am young.
I touched someone’s heart,
Probably with my youth.
I used to feel thrilled having known that,
It slipped my mind that I am a very ordinary girl,
There are hundreds and hundreds of girls like me,
They all possess the charm of their youth.

I beseech you,
Please write a story about an ordinary girl.
Her life is gloomy!
If she has something really valuable in her
How she is going to prove that —
How many people realize that?
They get captivated by the youthful beauty,
They don’t unearth the inner soul,
We get disposed of like a Mirage!
Let me tell you why this came up.
Imagine, his name is Naresh.
He said, he never caught a glimpse of anybody else like me.
Did I dare to believe that?
Did I dare not to believe?

One day he went to England.
I receive letters occasionally.
Keep thinking – Wow! There are so many girls in that country!
They are all competing with each other,
And, all of them are fascinating –
So smart, so bright!
And, they all have discovered the one Naresh Sen
Who was a nobody in his own country!

In his letter by the last mail, Naresh wrote –
He went to the sea for swimming with Lizzy,
(He has quoted two lines from the Bengali poet –
where Urvashi is appearing from the sea),
Then they were relaxing on the sand beside each other,
Gazing at the dancing blue waves in front of them,
Sky lit with bright sun.
Lizzy murmured in a very soft voice,
“ You are here only for a few days. You will leave soon.
Two parts of a shell, a droplet of tears covering the middle.”
What a charming way of expression!
Naresh also added
“ Perhaps those words are made-up, but aren’t they stunning?
A golden ring with a diamond is not real,
But is it not?”

You can guess, he is pointing at me with a comparison,
It  breaks my heart,
Letting me know – I am nothing but an ordinary girl.
I don’t have the wealth to pay the price of something precious.
Alright, I accept it.
I will remain a borrower for the rest of my life.

I beg you, Saratbabu, write a story
A story about a very ordinary girl –
The unfortunate girl who has to compete from far with at least five to seven sensational women –
Fighting with seven chariot-women.

I know, I have lost.
I am defeated.
But make sure, your heroine wins –
The girl you are writing about.
Make sure she makes us proud
( God bless your pen)!

Name her “ Malati”,
That’s my name.
You are not going to get caught,
There are many many Malatis in Bengal.
They are all ordinary girls,
They don’t speak French or German,
They only know how to cry.

How will you make her win?
Your thoughts are high, your pen is powerful.
May be you will take her along the path of sacrifice,
Of greatest sorrow, like Sakuntala.
Please have compassion on me,
Bring yourself down to my level.
In the darkness of night, in my bed,
The impossible blessings which I ask for, from God,
I will not get it,
But your heroine will.
Make Naresh stay in London for seven years,
Make him fail in his exam.,
Again and again,
Stay pampered by his followers.

In the meantime,
Let Malati pass M.A.
From University of Calcutta,
Come first in Math by the magic of your pen.

But don’t stop there, you don’t want a blemish on your title of The King of Literature!
I might be unfortunate,
But don’t curb your imagination –
You are not a miser like The Almighty!

Send the girl to Europe,
The wise, the scholar, the brave, the poet, the artist, the rich – all will gather around her.
let them discover her like astronomers do –
Not only because she is a scholar, because she is a woman;
The captivating magic she has
let them find her mystery, not in the country of foolishness –
In the countries of thoughtfulness, of kindness,
Among British, German, French.

let there be a conference showing respect to Malati,
With all the famous and the powerful,
Imagine all the praises being showered on her,
She glides by with little care
Like a sailboat in the middle of waves.
They are whispering about her eyes –
The rain-clouds and sunlight of Indian sky blending in those eyes,
(Here I have to admit, not being immodest, God has really blessed me with beautiful eyes. Although, I haven’t met any European admirer yet!)
Naresh will come there and stand in a corner,
And his group of breathtaking women!

And then?
That’s it. I have nothing else to say.
My dream is over,
Oh, the silly girl!
Oh, the waste of power of the Creator!



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Date: 6/17/2020 7:21:00 PM
Just read the title of the poem, It is the translation of this poem, "Sadharon Meye " , is it not? Thanks a lot for the post.
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Ray Choudhury Avatar
Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 6/18/2020 5:47:00 AM
Yes, Dear Friend, you are right - it is the translation of "Sadharan Meye". Hope you have a chance to read it. I will gradually post a few more translations from Tagore.Thank you.
Date: 6/15/2020 5:41:00 PM
I have never read any of his work but am very grateful you have taken the time to translate and share with us here on PS. this was wonderful.
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Ray Choudhury Avatar
Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 6/15/2020 6:32:00 PM
Thanks so much, Jeanne. I am so glad I have this chance of sharing this genius’s work with poetic minds like you. I have translated a few more of his work, which I intend to gradually share at this site. It is amazing to find so much love of literary work. Best wishes.
Date: 6/13/2020 2:50:00 PM
I have posted a translation before and it is fine as long as you give the original author credit. I enjoyed your translation very much. I am familiar with his works and have a couple of his books. Thank you for sharing this with us. Blessings and Aloha, Connie
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Ray Choudhury Avatar
Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 6/13/2020 6:13:00 PM
Thank you so much, Connie. So glad to know you have enjoyed the translation. You are already familiar with this poet's work, you understand it is a daunting task to try to translate his work. I tried, because I really want to share the incredible works of this literary genius. I am working on a few more. Best wishes to you, really appreciate your inspiring comments. Mala
Date: 6/12/2020 7:21:00 AM
Great work Malabika! Let me suggest you post this poem on this site with all the background as you have done here in this blog. To me, it is poem of the day.
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Ray Choudhury Avatar
Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 6/13/2020 6:24:00 AM
On the site, I was trying to include Tagore's name in the title - can't do it. No brackets, or commas or any special characters are allowed in that space. Thanks, Vijay
Pandit Avatar
Vijay Pandit
Date: 6/12/2020 8:20:00 AM
You disclose it as such--so the original poet gets the credit for his work.
Ray Choudhury Avatar
Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 6/12/2020 7:54:00 AM
Thanks a lot, Vijay, for suggesting. Posted it on the site.
Ray Choudhury Avatar
Malabika Ray Choudhury
Date: 6/12/2020 7:43:00 AM
Vijay, Is it okay to post translations? I was not sure! Thanks.

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