Annada Sankar Ray (1904-2002) was a Bengali and Odia poet and essayist. Best known for his rhymes, his work covers a range of diverse social and cultural topics including a famous travelogue to Europe. The themes of his rhymes contain social and political commentary as well as scenes from the everyday.

We bring to you one of his rhymes titled ‘Khoka O Khuku’  in which he questions the logic of partition and mocks the “man-child” who engineered it. He sketches a vivid imagery of what life in the 1940s must have looked like, and lists the various people and institutions that would be ripped apart due to this vicious act of partition.  What a bridge between the world of politics and that of young children, introducing them early on to the inane world of adults!

Khoka O Khuku

teler shishi bhanglo bole
khukur pore raag koro
tomra je shob buro khoka
bharot bhenge bhaag koro
taar bela tar bela taar bela

bhangcho prodesh bhangcho jela
jomi joma ghor baari
paater aarot dhaner gola
kaarkhana aar relgaari
taar bela tar bela taar bela

chaayer bagaan koyla khoni
college thana office ghor
chair table deyal ghori
pion police professor

juddho jahar jongi motor
kaman bimaan ossho uut
bhagabhagir bhanga bhangir
cholche jeno hori luut
taar bela tar bela taar bela

teler shishi bhanglo bole
khukur pore raag koro
tomra je shob buro khoka
bharot bhenge bhaag koro
taar bela tar bela taar bela

What about?
 
When the little child breaks the vial of oil,
she incurs your wrath as if it were an act of despoil… 
What about the many ways in which
you petty man-children have broken up India, so verdant and rich
What about that?
 
You’ve torn apart the cities and streets, 
you haven’t spared the villages and districts, 
people’s land, their houses and homes,
nor did you spare the factories, trains and paddy domes, 
What about those?
 
The tea plantations and the fields of coal,
the chairs, the tables, the clocks on the wall
the colleges, the police stations, the offices and more
you’ve even divided the peon, the police officer, and the professor!
What about them?
 
The warships and the tanks,
The canons, the planes, perhaps even the guns with blanks?
With all the barbaric breaking, barricading and brawling,
you’ve managed to divide the horses and camels to boot….
It will all be a fantastic loot!
What about these?
 
When the little child breaks the vial of oil,
she incurs your wrath as if it were an act of despoil… 
What about the many ways in which
you petty man-children have broken up India, so verdant and rich
What about that?

Translated by Debasmita Boral
 

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