Mritiye Kannal Kanden / Having Seen Death With My Eyes (Sugata Kumary)


Serendipity and I, are old partners. She is as fickle as a tempestuous lover at times. She might condescend to grace one’s day or not. There is no in-between grey paths of flirtation for her sort of love. Strangely, her love is considered spiritual by some. Apparently your life path is coinciding with the original Grace’s path if the lady comes dancing across your days.

In the past few days, she has come in the form of death’s story, and the story of blindness and healing.

I had just finished Tarashanker Bandopadhyay’s ‘ ArogyaNiketan’ and had reached out to Sugata Kumary’s poetry collection, still thinking of death.

The book opened at her 1968 poem called, ” Mritiye Kanden.” As I read about the young woman in red, with yellowish hair, face downcast, and raising her sightless eyes, I froze. I could not believe it- Pingala Kesini, blind and deaf ! Pingalavarna, Pingalanetra..she of yellow hair, yellow skin, yellow eyes… When did she escape Jeevan Masai’s story and jump into Sugata teacher’s poem?And then I saw the acknowledgment below the third page- ”  Story about death from Tarashanker Bandopadhyay’s Arogya Niketan.”

I bowed before lady Serendipity.


Excerpts..( translated  from Malayalam)

I saw death yesterday

with my own eyes

a young woman

sitting face downcast.

Clad carelessly in red

yellow hair all wild

face down, perhaps

due to grief?

“Who are you?”

my dry lips

nay, my terror struck soul

might have questioned thus!

Did she not hear?

or she cannot, perhaps?

though I stopped her with my hand

she did not see- may be, she could not?

Then like a thick black

curtain , as darkness

started dropping all around, crying-

That face lifted and I saw

sightless white spaces!

I recognise her

stunned, she is the favourite

daughter of the Creator!

The one in whose lap

the world sleeps like a child

forgetting all sorrows,

whose compassionate cool touch

removes the agony of disease, pain

humiliation, love’s epidemic

the hundreds of unappeased dissatisfactions

of the human soul…

She went crying to her father

on a bright day of creation

it seems..

” I cannot do the task allotted”

she cried in distress, folding hands:

“removing a child from a father’s lap

a beloved from her sweetheart’s arms

a son from his mother’s breast

from a woman’s devout grasp her husband..

I cannot see the gasping, broken wings

of grief; as I pull them away..”

“Go,  do your divine assignment

I grant you the boon of sightlessness-

do not see anymore

the tears of the loved ones.

May you turn blind!”

Thus it was that death

returned to the harvest fields

of life on earth, blinded.

She returned another day

stumbling before her father

tears running..

” I cannot hear the cries of horror

as I enter, the heart rending calls

of names of those who leave..”

Compassionate creator, he said

” May you turn deaf from now on!”

Thus it was death turned blind and deaf.

She walks, this young woman,

yellow hair wild, face downcast

not seeing tears, not hearing cries

will come and take you far, far away…