Train To Agra by Vandana Khanna In Hindi/Urdu Translation Poem by Ravi Kopra

Train To Agra by Vandana Khanna In Hindi/Urdu Translation

Main tumain batana chahti hoon -
us shahir main jahan baraf

sirf kuch ghanto ke liyay hi
chaandi jaisi chamkati hai.

Is yatra k liyay satra saal
guzar chukay hain. Ye kaali

shihai ke namoonay-dar haraf,
muday kabzon ki tarah juday huay,

ye bunnay haraf meri hatheli
ki lakeeron ki tarah udhatay huay,

sub tootay phootay raastay. Bahar
koi baraf nahin.

- to be continued

Train to Agra

I want to reach you—
in that city where the snow

only shimmers silver
for a few hours. It has taken

seventeen years. This trip,
these characters patterned

in black ink, curves catching
on the page like hinges,

this weave of letters fraying
like the lines on my palm,

all broken paths. Outside,
no snow. Just the slow pull

of brown on the hills, umber
dulling to a bruise until the city

is just a memory of stained teeth,
the burn of white marble

to dusk, cows standing
on the edges like a dust

cloud gaining weight
after days of no rain. Asleep

in the hot berth, my parents
sway in a dance, the silence

broken by scrape of tin, hiss
of tea, and underneath,

the constant clatter of wheels
beating steel tracks over and over:

to the city of white marble,
to the city of goats, tobacco

fields, city of dead hands,
a mantra of my grandmother's—

her teeth eaten away
by betel leaves—the story

of how Shah Jahan had cut off
all the workers' hands

after they built the Taj, so they
could never build again. I dreamt

of those hands for weeks before
the trip, weeks even before I

stepped off the plane, thousands
of useless dead flowers drying

to sienna, silent in their fall.
Every night, days before, I dreamt

those hands climbing over the iron
gate of my grandparents' house, over

grate and spikes, some caught
in the groove between its sharpened

teeth, others biting where
they pinched my skin.

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