Monday, 7 November 2011

Incomplete Pictures

                           INCOMPLETE PICTURES

I took pictures
In Jagannathpuri
Of the sunrise at the sea,
Of the floating boats and
The nets suspended in the air,
But I removed
The fisherman from the scene

I took pictures
In Bastar and Balaghat
Of Sal and sagon forests,
And of tendu leaves
But I pushed aside
The laborers,
Plucking bidi leaves and
Picking sal seeds

In Khajuraho and Konark
In halibid and Belur,
I took pictures of
Yaksh, kinnar and gods,
Of charming danseurs
Of erotic postures,
But I couldn’t trace
The fiftieth generation
Of the sculptor

I took pictures in Mysore
Of palaces & Dashehra,
Of elephant rides,
Of silver doors and
Golden cenotaph,
But I came back
Without capturing the
Titles, medals and citations,
Conferred by the Raj

From Jabalpur came
Mahadev to preside,
In the temple at Tanjore,
The bridge he built
Between north and south-
I saw it only in the temple,
Lost sight of it sooneth
I stepped out on the road

Standing on the Hasdev barrage
I took pictures of sunset,
Also, in Hirakud and gangrel
I took pictures of
Sluice gates and of canals,
But my camera
Could not track
The laborers & engineers,
Gone with their dismantled tents

I went to public meetings and rallies
And took pictures of great guns,
Laying foundation stones,
Inaugurating projects and
Giving speeches,
I captured
Their radiant faces,
Swirled the camera on the crowd,
And sent their pictures to the press,
But the people in the crowd
Were resigned to the fate,
Or where they restless,
I could not fathom

Quite often,
This happens with me,
I take pictures of
Flowers and gardens, but
The gardener doesn’t
Fit in the frame,
The priest disappears from
The pictures of temples,
Structures loom large, but
The artisans are not seen

It’s beyond me,
How to handle this camera,
I will give it to my children,
They sure will take,
Better and real pictures
Than me.


A poem in Hindi by Lalit Surjan

Translation by Vani Xaxa