Manoranjan Byapari (Bangladesh/ India) was born in 1950, in Barisal (in erstwhile East Pakistan), and came to West Bengal, India, in the aftermath of partition. As a child in a Dalit refugee family, his childhood was spent tending to cows and goats and working in roadside tea shops and restaurants, and hence he could not attend school. Thereafter he worked as a casual labourer, sweeper, night-watchman, lorry-helper and rickshaw-puller. He was jailed in connection with political activity, where he learnt to read and write. A chance encounter with the acclaimed writer, Mahasweta Devi, in 1981 — when she sat as a passenger on his cycle-rickshaw — led him to start writing. She published his autobiographical piece in her Bengali journal, Bortika. He has written twelve novels and over a hundred short stories, besides essays and poems. He was awarded the Suprova Majumdar Memorial Prize by the Bangla Academy for his autobiography in 2012.





 A letter was deemed to arrive


 Spreading unto winter's end, the warmth of sunrise

The call of madol, and the sweet scent of mohua

In the naked feet of the adivasi girl

 As spring arrives in the uplands'

faded lives.

We were deemed to go hunting

By the nib's sharp end would we pike out

All those wild boars

Who have ruined the fields of harvest

With fear, have filled up my son

This dalit life, have filled up with pain.

 But the door was never knocked upon,

 The missive runner never did arrive

 Yet, I wait, ears pricked

For the letter might arrive, it certainly would arrive.






Madol:  an aboriginal drum used in festivities or in any other form of tribal communication



Mohua: a flower with an intoxicating scent


Dalit: a term designating an outcaste or an untouchable in the Hindu caste order; else, also  means oppressed


কথা ছিল চিঠি আসবে

কথা ছিল চিঠি আসবে,
শীতের শেষে সূর্যোদয়ের উত্তাপ,
মাদলের বোল আর মহুয়ার মিষ্টি গন্ধ ছড়িয়ে,
আদিবাসী যুবতীর নগ্ন পায়ে
যেভাবে বসন্ত আসে পাহাড় তলির
বিবর্ণ জীবনে।
কথা ছিল আমরা শিকারে যাব,
কলমের ধার মুখে গেঁথে তুলব
সেই সব বুনো শুয়োর গুলোকে
যারা নষ্ট করেছে ফসলের ক্ষেত,
ভয় দেখিয়েছে আমার সন্তান কে
দলিত জীবন ভরে দিয়েছে যন্ত্রণায়।
দুয়ারের কড়া নড়ে নি।
বার্তা বাহি রানার আজও আসেনি এ কে,
তবু আমি প্রতীক্ষায় কান পেতে আছি,
চিঠি আসবে, চিঠি আসবেই।

Translated by Suparna Sengupta, who was born in Kolkata, India. Currently, she lives in Bangalore, India. She completed her graduation in English literaturein Kolkata . She serves as a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Jyoti Nivas College, Bangalore