Sunday Poem

The Story of the Arjun and the Krishnachura

The Arjun tree stood alone in that field
An Aryan male – a pillar of aristocracy
All the other trees bowed to it
This was merely the beginning of the story

From somewhere came the Krishnachura seed
A few years later she was a young woman
A Santhal girl, with crimson in her hair
At once Arjun wanted her as his own

She was not a girl who would submit
In spring she dressed up without help, alone
She wasn't drawn to the Aryan male
She was busy making the buds bloom

Last night's flowers had fallen from her hair
Rippling leaves had woven clothes for her
Arjun – he was an Aryan male, who thought
Only he could claim beauty so fair

From the distance the Arjun tree could see
The Krishnachura's cascading heart
Bewitched by beauty, his perplexed eyes
Wondered when he'd find his way to it

I'd better finish this story quickly
The Krishnachura is far too obstinate
Her pride won't let her sell herself
She'd rather be a neighbour or a friend

The story isn't quite so simple
Arjun shed his bark, sheds it still
But the Santhal girl can shed blood
The Aryan male accepts he cannot win

Be reborn as an Arjun tree
Consider the Krishnachura a friend
Don't confuse me with others, upright one
When I bleed, shed your bark and call me then

by Mandakranta Sen
from: Hridhay Abadhya Meye
publisher: Ananda Publishers, Kolkata, 1999
translation: Arunava Sinha
from: After the Last Kiss
publisher: HarperCollins India