Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Mr. Jagannath's Return (Translation)

Starting off the year by translating one of my favourite contemporary writers (and a very close friend) - Tanmay Mukherjee. If you enjoy reading this you may want to follow the BongPen (English) Facebook page where I try and translate some of his more 'translatable' work.


Mr. Jagannath heaved a sigh after lighting up the cigarette from the spark at the end of the hanging rope at the Paan shop. As he put the change from the Paanwallah into his shirt pocket, he felt one last piece of that ginger candy he had purchased in the train. It's very dear to Meenu. This has been a bother since he died. The moment he sees something that Meenu loves, he can't stop tearing up.
Today marks the five year anniversary of that fateful day. Five years. Meenu has grown up so much since then. About to become a college graduate. Thankfully he gets to meet her at least for this one day a year. She has to go through so much trouble to come and meet him. He wondered about the stories she has to cook up at home for these visits. However, they can't meet anywhere besides this spot. This exact spot. Right next to Nikhil's paan shop. Sharp at 5:32 in the evening. When he had to go under the bus. In just the same way he had lit up is cigarette and was feeling for the ginger candy as he had set off to cross the road. The mild winter seemed like the perfect time to get a bit distracted. But Mr. Jagannath couldn't imagine the bus would just roll over him. What a horrible incident.
Since the following year after that he has been meeting Meenu at the exact same time at the same place. For some reason only Meenu can catch him at right this time, and Mr. Jagannath is grateful for that. They also get to chat a bit. That candy has been sitting inside the pocket for so many years, never ended up giving it to Meenu.
- Baba
- You came sweetheart? I thought....
- That I won't come?
- No, I mean...
- It's one day a year, I won't come to meet you?
- Meenu. How are your studies coming along?
- First year results are out. First class.
- First class? Fantastic stuff! Oh, how's your mother doing?
- Not too good. Keeps sobbing. But you don't start crying now!
- When did ghosts start to cry. Meenu, dear Meenu, you please don't cry. Such a short meeting. Please don't cry my child.
- When did ghosts' daughters start to cry?
- Ha ha ha
- Ha ha! Want a candy?
Gradually Mr. Jagannath started to fade and merged into the darkness.
- Mrs. Jagannth. The Taxi is waiting. Mrs. Jagannath!
- Hmm...
- The taxi. It is waiting.
- Oh. It is here?
- Yes Ma'am.
- They will tear down this house to build a flat, isn't it Kanai?
- Come, let's go Ma'am. It's getting dark.
- Had moved in here twenty five years back, right after my wedding.
- I know, I know. Come, let's go.
- There are so many memories tied to this place. Can you leave the memories just by leaving the house?
- Come, come.
- Of course I have to go. How will I live here anymore? The father came under the bus, and that same day the daughter had to hang herself. She didn't think of her mother even once. The house used to ring with her energy all day, those little made up stories and naughtiness. And all those pranks by the father and daughter. Where do I leave all these memories and go, Kanai?
- Ma'am, the taxi is waiting for a while now. Come, let's go.
Original (By Tanmay Mukherjee):

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