First Lesson

By Guna Moran

Original Assamese poem titled “Adipath”, Translated by Nirendra Nath Thakuria 

Sitting hunched at the hearth 
of useful knowledge
she toasted her ashen eyes
through the gaps of her fingers 
and very often said
You are my unique achievements 
of my sacrifice 
for long ten months and ten days
By birth you’ve got a beautiful earth 
besides the vast sky
So you must be generous like the sun 
and tolerant like the earth 

At my birth I cried
Maybe I got the pains of my mother
Since then I have had tears in my eyes 
in happiness and sorrow of people
One can't help crying 
whose only companion at birth was tears

That honeyed word, "Maa" 
was my first honeyed word
Since then I've blurted out "Maa"
whenever I sit down or stand up

My birth is my mother's sacrifice
I must be made for sacrifice
An ingrate I can't be

My happiness lies in my mother's happiness
My sorrow lies in my mother's sorrow 
Never can I be happy   
He is the lone custodian of happiness
whose main assets are
the sun and the earth

Guna Moran is an up and coming poet and critic. His poems and literary pieces are published in numerous journals and newspapers of India. His literary honours include Kabita Dinar Sanman 2017, Bandhu Saki Bota 2019, the Literary Lieutenant Award 2019 by Story Mirror, India Star Passion Award 2019, and Creator of Justice Award 2020 (Honorable Poetry by International Human Rights Art Festival). English translations of his poems have also been accepted for publication by a number of national and international print & web magazines.

Niredra Nath Thakuria translates Assamese literature into English, and his translations have appeared in Kavya Bharati, Chandrabhaga, Indian Literature, Yaatra, The Oxford Anthology Writings from North-east India, Poetry and Essays, and Dancing Earth: An Anthology of Poetry from North-East India (Penguin Books). Mr. Thakuria worked as associate Editor of Yaatra and as literary editor of Assam: Land and People. He edited Democracy of Umbrella, a collection of English Translations of Anubhav Tulasi’s Assamese poems.

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