Abol Tabol - English
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Abol Tabol - Bengali
Abol Tabol - English
Life of Sukumar Roy
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Have you ever considered what the translation of a poem of Abol Tabol will look like! Well,here is a chance to study a few.Translation, specially of a poem like this, is always difficult. More difficult is to maintain the hilarious effect of it. Even Satyajit Roy, the able son of Sukumar Roy, gave up the job of translation after some time. However, there are always some people who are ready to take up the challenge. This section is here because of them.

Click on a poem to view it ...
button The king of Bombaria
button Stew Much
button The Power of Music
 The Suitable Groom
 The Stolen Moustache
 The Rule of 21

                The King of Bombaria
         In the land of Bombaria
         The customs are peculiar.
         The king, for instance, advocates
         Gilded frames for chocolates.
         The queen, who seldom goes to bed
         Straps a pillow round her head.
         The courtiers- or so I'm told-
         Turn cartwheels when they have a cold:
         ... The King's old aunt- an autocrat-
         Hits pumpkins with her cricket bat
         While Uncle loves to dance Mazurkas
         Wearing garlands strung with hookaha.
         All of this, though mighty queer,
         Is natural in Bombaria.
                      Translated by Satyajit Ray 
                      The Bengali version is "Bombagarer Raja".
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                     STEW  MUCH

         A duck once met a porcupine ; they formed a corporation
         Which called itself a Porcuduck ( a beastly conjugation ! ).
         A stork to a turtle said, "Let's put my head upon your torso ;
         We who are so pretty now, as Stortle would be more so !"
         The lizard with the parrot's head thought : taking to the chilli 
         After years of eating worms is absolutely silly.
         A prancing goat - one wonders why - was driven by a need
         To bequeath its upper portion ta a crawling centipede.
         The giraffe with grasshopper's limbs reflected : Why should I
         Go for walks in grassy fields, now that I can fly ?
         The nice contented cow will doubtless get a frightful shock
         On finding that its lower lombs belong to a fighting cock.
         It's obvious the Whalephant is not a happy notion :
         The head goes for the jungle, while the tail turns to the ocean,
         The lion's lack of horns distressed him greatly, so
         He teamed up with a dear - now watch his antlers grow !

                  Translated by Satyajit Ray. 
                  The Bengali version is "Haans chilo sojaru".
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                     The Power of Music

         When summer comes, we hear the hums
	         Bhisma Lochan Sharma.
         You catch his strain on hill and plain from Delhi
	         down to Burma
         He sings as though he's staked his life, he sings
         	as though he's hell-bent;
         The people, dazed,retire amazed although they
	         know it's well-meant.
         They're trampled in the panic rout or languish
         	pale and sickly,
         And plead,"My friend, we're near our end,oh
	         stop your singing quickly !"
         The bullock-carts are overturned, and horses	
	         line the roadside;
         But Bhisma Lochan, unconcerned, goes
	         booming out his broadside.
         The wretched brutes resent the blare the hour
         	they hear it sounded,
         They whine and stare with feet in air or wonder 
	         quite confounded.
         The fishes dived below the lake in frantic search 
         	for silence,
         The very trees collapse and shake - you hear the 
	         crash a mile hence - 
         And in the sky the feathered fly turn turtle while
	         they're winging,
         Again we cry,"We're goingto die, oh won't you
	         stop your singing?"
         But Bhisma's soared beyond our reach, howe'er
         	we plead and grumble;
         The welkin weeps to hear his screech, and mighty
         	mansions tumble.
         But now there comes a billy goat, a most
         	sagacious fellow,
         He downs his hornsand charges straight, with
         	bellow answ'ring bellow.
         The strains of song are tossed and whirled by
         	blast of brutal violence,
         And Bhisma Lochan grants the world the golden 
         	gift of silence.

                        - translated by Sukanta Chaudhury
                          The bengali version is 'Ganer Gunto'

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                    The Suitable Groom

         Heard your daughter's getting married,
                   From Posta, the news I carried.
         Gangaram, the groom you chose,
                   I wish to describe, the quality he owes.
         Now listen, listen, Hark, Hark!
                   His complexion is awfully dark.
         His facial cutting, is somewhat round,
                   Rather an owl, just to sound.
         Education? Oh, just wait!
                   Not so bright under any rate.
         Nineteen times he had to pluck,
                   Till he left for his rotten luck.
         Financial career? Poor indeed,
                   Somehow makes both ends meet.
         And his brothers who are there,
                   Rather inhuman, know you dear.
         One is stubborn, the other insane,
                   Quite a troupe of hollow men.
         Oh, I missed the other two
                   Real gems are they, not to rue.
         One was smart, but now in prison,
                   Forged bank notes, (So petty a reason!)
         The youngest one in profession grand
                   Earns five bucks from a rustic band.
         And Gangaram -- is real meek,
                   Weak, feeble, and always sick.
         But they are royal, Is that clear?
                   Tell you, they are King Kansha's heirs.
         And Shyam Lahiri of Banagram,
                   Is somehow kin to Gangaram.
         Overall the groom is not so bad,
                   Cheer up, cheer up, don't be sad.
                  Translated by Ruchira Ghosh
	          The Bengali version is "Sat Patro"
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                The Stolen Moustache

The Head office's Big Boss, a kind and gentle soul, He never raised his temper or ordered heads to roll, Until one day - a curious site, he acted rather rash, While sitting quietly in his chair, his mind had gone abash. He startled awake with his arms and legs stretched, His eyes grew larger as his stomach had wretched. He suddenly screamed with a quake in his call "Come pick me up quickly! Before I fall!" The people around him ran upstairs and down, Calling for a policeman, or doctor in town. "Pick him up carefully! he's likely to bite!" Said a worried employee who's only half right - The Head office's big boss, had made a strange claim "My mustache has been stolen and you're the one's to blame!" To lose an entire mustache is really quite absurd, His mustache was in fact, in place! (a mirror had affirmed). Angry as an eggplant, frying deep in oil, The big boss's blood had come to a boil, "I know what you're all like, you don't fool me, Your mustache is like a broom, unkempt and dirty! If you say I keep my mustache like a milk man's - all ragged and worn, I'll butcher you like animals, and then you'll know my scorn!" He wrote in his notebook citations and fines, With a cough and a gasp, he wrote one more line: "These knuckle-headed bumpkins, all crooked and vile, You give them an inch, and they'll take a mile!" He scowled at the group, thinking what to do next, "I should grab them by their collars and grate their heads with their desks!” A mustache is a funny thing, it can't be bought or sold, It tells the story of a man – be he rich, or poor; young or old. The Bengali version is "gonf churi". Translation by Sujoy and Chandana Chatterjee back to top

                The Rule of 21

In Shiva's homeland, the rules are quite strange, as I can truly attest, If someone slips, and falls by err, police come by to arrest. Your ordeal continues inside of a court room, Where judges are ready to fine you a fortune - 21 rupees is the price you must pay, but wait till you hear what they charge in the day - for sneezing before six, a ticket is needed, without this in hand, you will be ill-treated - they beat you like drums, and snuff up your nose, you sneeze not just once, but 21 blows! The fine for teeth-chattering is 4 rupees flat, for growing a mustache a bit more than that - a hundred nickles, paid out in cash, plus 21 prayers with both hands clasped. While walking the streets, your steps cannot wander, a step left or right and the king is called yonder. He summons his guards who come in with a run, to force you to sit while you sweat in the sun. There is some relief, as they offer some water, unfortunately so much that its not worth the bother. But this isn't the worst of it, by any means really, for those who write poems, their punishment is silly, they're placed in a cage under strict lock and key, with no chance of exile, or option to flee. A hundred Orrisans are placed, so it's fabled, proclaiming exhaustively the multiplications table. And then there's more math as you tend to a store, account for the sales - it's a menial chore. One last offense, that's punishable by law, Is snoring at all - it's seen as a flaw. The glue from a bilva tree, the dung from a cow, It's all used quite viciously, here's how: they rub it in coarsely, the hair of an offender, who's tied to a tree and spun like a blender. For 21 spins he goes round and round, and 21 hours till his feet touch the ground. The Bengali version is "ekushe ain". Translation by Sujoy and Chandana Chatterjee back to top

This section will be renewed with other translated poems in near future.Please contact us if you have any suggestion or material to enhance this section
Contact us. You can even try out a translation on your own.

Updated on 1st August, 2009.
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