Thursday, 28 November 2013

Prabuddha XVI

[This is the sixteenth part of the translation of Mahagama Sekera's epic poem 'Prabuddha', an exercise that has the permission and blessings of the immediate family of Mahagama Sekera. Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI , VII, VIII,  IX, X , XI, XII, XIII, XIV and XV can be found in]  

auspicious hour

witness to the birthing

of a thousand Buddhas

a thousand arrived

men and women

this morning

to the bus stop

ready to battle,

men and women

of run and jump

cut and chop

kindling of fires

the haste of toilet

the rush of shave


and into work clothes

then brisk walk or sprint.

Those outside, to get in

those inside, to get a seat

those seated, to a corner seat



and if obtain gain

are happy.

My seat, my car

for a moment

the ego rides along;

and if overtaken

is disturbed


Competing and struggling; squashed but emerging

swaying and swaying; at times ramrod straight, still

with joke and banter, smile and guffaw

onward to Colombo chug-chugging by train.

If there was the tiniest space

would turn a somersault and dance

would sing a theme song of a movie

and in the contortion of arm and leg

ask for a cent

or two

children of four or five.

There are men

Youth betrayed by the here and there

and thinness of facial hair

pale faced and eyes

looking up in their vacancy

educated and knowing

and seeking a job.

And by their side

young women

pale-faced too

helplessness in their eyes

no spark, no joy.

The older notice the dance

they smile and dig in purse or wallet

find a coin or too

toss into tin

wishing for themselves

all material comforts

in heaven and earth

and at the end

the bliss of enlightenment.

She came to him then

the little girl panting

at dance-end stretching

the lid of a tin –

destined to walk

on some yet unknown street

at an evening hour –

and he,

after a furtive glance

to note who noted and who did not

he placed upon it

a shining coin

a single singular rupee;

had anyone seen

it might be thought,

‘One entire rupee – what an idiot!’

She would delight

and joy would spill from lip and eye

in the natural overflow

precipitated by the unexpected;

she turned away

hand outstretched

to new benefactor

as though she had nothing noticed.

Disappointment invaded

followed by a dilemma.

Why did I expect

response that would delight?

The offered rupee,

who was it to delight,

she or I?

1 comment :

  1. i think i missed most the parts of the translation. still it is no difficult to understand ' the prabuddha'

    the prabuddha's always catch the core meaning or the every corner of the poem very well since i don't belong to the 'prabuddha category i may miss a lot :)

    i like the way you translate 'prabuddha'