Of nineteen thirty-four
With a misgiving
A motor car comes along.
The motor car is always a thing of darkness,
In the sun and lighted roads of day
And in the luminous gas at night though
It is named first and foremost
Among the children of light.
A dark thing it is:
In the clear morning light
Walking in the green pea and lentil fields of the countryside
Suddenly I was startled by a sparkling motor car of the nineteen-thirty-four make
Racing away under two hijal trees
On the red brick-bat road
Raising a fierce storm in its wake;
Paths, fields, dewdrops began to fall away,
Morning light like a bashful bride suddenly shied away in the face of an adverse argument
As though fields and rivers were shiftless,
As though suddenly they had lost their commitment,
This motor car the harbinger
Was racing away the way all should go;
Has always felt dubious to me
At the stand
To the the east of the vast city field
By the west footpath
Is a motor car;
Hood over head
And deep seats brushed and speckless inside,
Polished steering wheel and headlights.
Why is it at a standstill?
A tree in the Kolkata field is standing still, musing on some other thing
And I am with something else
But the stillness of a motor car is a dark thing
A dark thing it is;
In the darkness of night thousands of cars are speeding away–
In Paris–New York–Berlin–Vienna—Kolkata
Touching both the shores
Like countless wires
Like the shooting stars of night,
Like endless cheetahs of nightly jungles
Like the ignus fatuus of men and women's incessant promises and preparations
They are on the onward march too
I don't know whither they're going.
A motorway and a motor car
Have always been a misgiving to me,
I don't want to go anywhere so fast;
Whatever my life aspires after I have ample time to walk there
And on reaching there I'd have ample time to spare.
Let others carry the freight of excitement of life's varied amazing successes; I want none of it.
Perhaps deep down I'm an obsolete man
In this new century under the stars
Masud Mahmood is a professor (retd) of English at Chittagong University. He is also a poet and translator.