About the Author:
Born in 1931, Emeritus Professor Gouranga P. Chattopadhyay started writing poetry late in his life. He has published six collections of verse, all with Writers Workshop, India, between 1983 and 2014. His other publications include works of criticism, journal articles and English translations of Sulekha Sanyal’s Nanabankur (a Bengali novel) and a collection of Rabindranath Tagore’s poems and songs (ed. Himani Banerjee). A festschrift edited by Ajeet N. Mathur was published in his honour and launched simultaneously from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and Centre for Socio-Analysis, Melbourne, on his 75th birthday.
At present, he works as a socio-analyst and designs and offers workshops as an organisation consultant and works as staff in group relations programmes when invited. He spends his time writing, reading and travelling. After the passing of his wife in 2011, he divides his time between Calcutta, Santiniketan and his sons’ houses in Singapore, Uttarakhand, Hong Kong and Mumbai.
“Old age should rave and burn at close of day”
It struck me like a blow below the belt
Or perhaps even a bolt from the blue
And yet with a flavour familiar to me
Since it was a fight of I versus I.
A thought, a brain child of none else but me,
It stopped me in my track and almost threw me off balance.
I found myself wondering if my life had any value just then
Other than the reflected love and regard from my extended
Family and a handful of friends and colleagues.
Had I at the same time become an emotional burden to them?
Am I contributing anything really useful to the world?
Will there linger a sense of loss and grief beyond a period measurable
By the single sheet of a calendar hanging in an obscure corner
Of the house and the householder alike?
Can I fade away like the true soldier of life
That I hope to have been till my heart broke metaphorically
In the dark hours of a January morning
And now seems to literally show the tell-tale marks of
My pulsating heart beginning to crumble
With the onslaught of passing years leading to old age
With blood running cold and in sluggish stream
Like old rivers choking with silt, reduced almost to a trickle,
That move like old men with an escort and a sturdy stick
Strong enough to withstand the weight of an adult not quite withered,
Lazily moving around huge tracts of silt dried solid by the sun,
With arteries swelling like evil balloons
Waiting to burst in a spray of tired blood
Seeking independence from the prison of tubular lengths of cells
And muscles sagging with bones turning brittle by the day.
[Tirucherapally: 21.34 hrs, Saturday, 16.3.2013.]
A review of the book appears in Kitaab.