Sholo anai michhey – by Sukumar Ray – translated

Sholo anai michhey – by Sukumar Ray

Biddey bojhai babumoshai chori shokher boatey
Majhire kon, ” Bolte parish sujji keno othey?
Chandta keno barey komey? Joar keno ashey?”
Bridhho majhi obaak hoye phelpheliye hashey.
Babu bolen, “Sara janam morli re tui khati,
jyan bina tor jibonta je chari anai mati.”

A gentleman with loads of knowledge goes for a boat ride.
He asks the boatman, “Can you tell me why the sun rises everyday?
Why does the moon grow and shrink in phases? Why do we have tides?”
The dumbfounded old boatman has a silly smile on his face.
The intellectual states, “You labored throughout your life but
Without knowledge a quarter of your life is futile.”

Khanik badey kohen babu, “Bolto dekhi bhebey
nodir dhara kemoney ashey pahar hotey nebe ?
Bolto keno lobonpora sagar bhora pani?
Majhi shey koy, “Are moshai aoto ki aar jani ?
Babu bolen, ” ei boyoshey janish neo taki
jibonta tor nehat khelo, ashto anai phaki ?”

After  a while the erudite enquires, “Think and answer,
How does the river flow down from the mountains ?
Can you tell me why the oceans are full of salty waters?”
The poor boatman confesses ” O Gentleman, how would I know so much ?”
The learned one states, “Even at this ripe age, you do not know this,
Then is your life indeed so cheap, half of it lost ?”

Abar bhebhey kohen babu, “Bolto orey buro,
Keno emon neel dekha jaye akasher oi churo?
Bolto dekhi surjo chandey grohon laagey keno?”
Bridho boley, “Amaye keno lajja dechhen heno? ”
Babu bolen, “Bolbo ki aar, bolbo torey kita,
Dekhchhi ekhon jibonta tor baro anai britha.”

Thinking again, the gentleman questions, “Here old one can you say
Why does the far heights of of the sky apeear as blue
Why solar and lunar eclipses happen to occur ?
The aged boatman merely protests “Why are you embarassing me so?”
At this the scholar concludes, ” I do not know what to tell you,
But clearly your life is three quarters useless.”

Khanik badhey jhor utheychhey, dhew utheychhey phule,
Babu dekhen, noukakhani dublo bujhi duley.
Majhire kon, “Eki apodh! Ore o bhai majhi,
Dublo naki nouka ebar? morbo naki aaji ?”
Majhi sudhay, “Snatar jaano ?”- matha naren babu,
Murkho majhi boley, “Moshai, ekhon keno kabu ?
Banchle sheshe amar kotha hisheb koro pichhey
tomar dekhi jibon khana sholo anai michhey.”

After a while, there rose a storm, the waves puffed up
The gentleman sensed that the rocking boat could sink any moment.
He adressed the boatman, “What a menace! O brother boatman,
Is the boat about to sink ? Am I going to die ?
The boatman asked , “Do you know how to swim ?” — the man shook his head,
The illiterate boatman told him, “Why are you beaten now?
Verify my words if you finally survive this,
Looks like your life is totally in vain.

In the end the illiterate boatman questions the use of all the knowledge about the Sun, the Moon, tides and the water bodies. Was it sufficient to predict the storm let alone control it ? Did the learned gentleman even have the capacity to deal with the situation?

This is an excellent parable. Sukumar Ray, the master of irony,  brings out the difference between theoritical and real knowledge in a clever setting. (Sukumar Ray is the father of the oscar-winning film maker Satyajit Ray).The words of the dexterous poet are magical in their rythm and divine in their essence. It throws light upon the pettiness of human ego and the true purpose of life.

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