Letter to Ba by Chandrakant Shah

Wearing the blue jeans you bought me
I sit down to write to you
After a long time

Light blue is the denim and sapphire blue the ink
Between the two – this sheet of paper
Blank and white
On this sheet I write to you of my troubles
After a long time

We’re fine
How’re you?
I write for the sake of writing
Ask for the sake of asking

I want to write just that –

After growing grimier
Over the years, these jeans have got so soiled
That I no longer feel like washing them.
To wash these jeans –
No river flows by
No friends
No farm, no well, no birdsong of koels nearby
No white cranes either

Instead, a white washer, white dryer
White washing powder to wash blue jeans
A white anti-static fabric softener
For the occasional static

Green trees seem white
White, the blue sky
The rainbow is white
White kohl, white soorma
White kumkum, white the white rice
White, white, pure white, white gulal

In this country of the whites, what a black fate is mine
On this bright white day, I sit here pounding life’s misfortunes
Sit here to write to you
Feverishly
After a long time

Light blue is the denim and sapphire blue the ink
Between the two – this sheet of paper
Not so white and no longer so blank
On this sheet I write to you of my reflections
After a long time

I keep writing that –

There’s no mango orchard here
To dry washed jeans
Even the sunlight here is sterilised
The wind EPA-controlled
Different water sprinklers nurture different patches of green
Everyone here has different lawns, different water, different sunlight

The jeans here are different for meeting people
Different for behaving, different for socialising
Ways of loving also different
Different TVs, different remotes
Different parties, different votes
Different cars, different phones
Different names, Jaswant John
Different brides for different grooms
Under the same roof, people live in different homes

I sit in my home, different from myself, distant from myself
Far far away
I sit here to bridge the gap on paper
After a long time

Light blue is the denim and sapphire blue the ink
Between the two – this letter
Never intended to be so long
On this sheet I write to you of bridges and gaps
After a long time

I turn the page over and write all over again that –

When I turned the almost-dried jeans inside-out
To dry them out completely
My life almost turned upside-down

Upside-down roads, upside-down driving
Upside-down men, upside-down women
Having upside-down conversations, I spend my upside-down nights
I draw water each day from upside-down taps
In the upside-down darkness, upside-down switches for lights

Upside-down alphabets
Upside-down voices
Upside-down silences
Surround me as
I sit here silently to write a wedding song
After a long time

Light blue is the denim and sapphire blue the ink
Between the two – this letter
Complete and yet incomplete
On this sheet I write to you this wedding song
After a long time

And finally I just want to write that –

After repeated washing
These jeans are furrowed
By deep wrinkles of dilemma

Wrinkles that tell
Of the desire to settle in the USA anyhow
Of the conditions to settle here
Of the acceptance of these conditions
Of adjusting to this acceptance
Of surrendering to the ‘medical’
Of growing dependence on social security

I sit here in the USA totally attached to Vadodara
I sit here to write of this attachment
After a long time

Light blue is the denim and sapphire blue the ink
Between the two – this letter
Completed and blank
On this sheet I write to you of my troubles
After a long time

Note: The English translation is by Naushil Mehta and Arundhathi Subramaniam. Following is the original.

Letter to Ba by Chandrakant Shah in the original Gujarati Part 1 of 5

Letter to Ba in Gujarati

Letter to Ba by Chandrakant Shah Part 2 of 5

Letter to Ba in Gujarati

Letter to Ba by Chandrakant Shah in Gujarati Part 3 of 5

Letter to Ba in Gujarati

Letter to Ba by Chandrakant Shah in Gujarati Part 4 of 5

Letter to Ba by Chandrakant Shah

Letter to Ba by Chandrakant Shah in Gujarati Part 5 of 5

Letter to Ba by Chandrakant Shah

One thought on “Letter to Ba by Chandrakant Shah

  1. Pingback: The Green Man » Letter to Ba by Chandrakant Shah

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