Badatota, My Pretty Little World - Poem by Bipin Patsani
(For my grandfather Sri Chaitan Patsani)
'chhota mor gaan ti,
bhugol pothi patare pachhe
nathau taar naan ti”*
- Sachi Rautaray
Badatota is my pretty little world
From where I began.
Badatota is my village
Where I was born years back
And pissed on my grandpa’s face
When I was a baby.
Humorous and fun-loving,
He would talk of the affair
With pride and pleasure.
Kind, compassionate and loving
With passion for riding and adventure,
Grandpa died a year after,
Probably of heart attack,
While the fish he brought
Was waiting half burnt.
That made the difference
To me and papa as well
And marked the beginning.
I would sit watching from the verandah
Paper boats and bubbles
On the muddy flow of rain water.
I would sing of unknown heights
Transported to the glorious past
And that divine steady movement,
Baliyatra and boita bandan,
The obstinacy of the paikas not to give in,
And equally ecstatic
I would enjoy swimming in the village pond
Floating like a boat on the surface
And pulling in to the centre.
I would pray the five-faced Mahavir
After bath and drink the tulsi-water
Kept in a stone bowl for devotees..
Chandan Yatra, Dola or Jhulan,
All would make me festive
And drunken to be Blakean,
And I would be sad to see it end.
The southern wind blowing across
The woods on the Barunai Hill,
Pleasures and pastimes
In my heavy heart would fill.
The school, the tools
And elder grandpa’s palm-leaf poetry,
The village versifier-cum-mason
Chintamani’s half-baked dream,
Odishi kirtan led by Ravi-uncle
And after all my people’s toil
To rise above the ordinary
Half sunk in petty quarrels
And mediocre means,
Their innocent mischief and failures,
Frail yet fascinating,
Their pleasure in being alive
And their humble desire to be acting,
What might be the measure;
All built in me a sense of being,
A keen sense of pride and positivism
That I nursed secretly,
The inorganic glory
Embedded in the organic,
Epitomized in its quietness.
Badatota is my starting point from where
I began moving in and around, spinning.
More than a mere place, a place of accident,
Badatota is that which made me learn what I am.
Badatota is my distant moon, my destiny
And destination under those banyan trees,
Its hanging roots longing for ground, reflecting
All possible dimensions of living and the purpose.
Firm and vital, moving in stillness,
Badatota, in fact, is my grave and womb,
My still centre and extension
Where I am to meet my end soon.
*Small is my village, but it is there,
Even if in any geography book
There is no mention of it.
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