Sarla Maheshwari: Translated by Kalpna Singh-Chitnis

Sarla MaheshwariBIO

Sarla Maheshwari is an Indian writer, poet, journalist and social activist . She has written 16 books on various subject matters, including drama and poetry. She is an ex-member of Indian Parliament (Rajya Sabha), and the Deputy Chairperson of the Parliamentary Official Language Committee. She lives in Kolkata, India with her husband Arun Maheshwari, a literary critic and political commentator.

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Kalpna Singh-Chitnis is an Indo-American poet, writer, filmmaker and actor based in California, USA. Author of “Bare Soul” and three collections of poems in Hindi, she won the prestigious “Bihar Rajbhasha Award” (1986-87) given by the government of Bihar, India, for her first poetry collection “Chand Ka Paivand” (Patch of Moon) before she was 21, and was given the title of “Bihar Shri”(Jewel of Bihar) in 1988. She also received the“Rajiv Gandhi Global Excellence Award” in 2014 for her contributions to literature and cinema, and was nominated for“Honor Of Yeast Litteraire” by “Levure Litterarie” magazine. Kalpna’s literary works have been widely published in the Indian subcontinent, Europe and North America. She is also the creator and editor of “Life and Legends” literary journal, and serves on the Editorial Board of “Levure litteraire” in Paris, France.



* Sarla Maheshwari’s poems are translated from original Hindi into English by Kalpna Singh-Chitnis.


बांग्ला देश मे कट्टरपंथियों द्वारा अभिजीत राय की निर्मम हत्या के प्रतिवाद में एक श्रद्धांजलि

धर्म ओ मज़हब के पिंजरे
आस्था-ओ विश्वास के मक़बरे
मजबूरों-मजलूमों को रहते घेरे
अज्ञानियों के डेरे
विवेक होता यहाँ तार-तार
इंसान होता शर्मसार
मुक्त मन यहाँ पिटता बार-बार
फिर भी मानता न कभी हार
कितने शार्ली एब्दो, कितने डाभोलकर
कितने पाश, कितने पानसारे
कितनी तस्लीमा, कितनी तिस्ता
कितनी रेहाना, कितनी रफीदा
आँखों में आँखे डाले
लड़ने को तैयार
मुक्त मन, मुक्त मस्तिष्क, मुक्त हवा
आतंक के पास कहाँ है इनकी कोई दवा
मर कर भी नहीं मर सकते तुम
अविजित थे, अविजित ही रहोगे तुम।


A tribute to Bangladeshi-American writer and secular activist Avijit Roy, who was killed by the religious extremists in Bangladesh.

Cages of creeds and religions,
shrines of trust and faith,
ignorant cordon the helpless and oppressed.
Judgements are tattered
and humanity is ashamed,
a rational mind is battered, over and over again,
but it never surrenders.
Many Charlie Hebdos*, many Dabholkars*,
many Pashs*, many *Pansares*,
many Talimas*, many *Teestas*,
many Reyhanehs*, many Faridas*
ready to combat,
an eye for an eye,
free like the wind is a Free Thinking Mind**
terror does not have an antidote for it,
with death, you*** did not die,
you were triumphant,
and shall always remain undefeated.

Names of the victim writers, journalist and social activists.
Charlie Hebdo* (France), Dabholkar* (Narendra Dabholkar, India), Pash* (Avtar Singh Sandhu, India), Pansare* (Govind Pansare, India), Talima* (Taslima Nasreen, Bangladesh) , Teesta* (Teesta Setalvad, India) , Reyhaneh* (Reyhaneh Jabbari, Iran), Farida* – (Rafida Ahmed, Bangladesh).

Free Thinking Mind ** refers to “Mukto Mona” (meaning Free Mind), a blog site for the rationalist, humanist, secular writers and activists founded by Avijit Roy).

***Avijit Roy, activist.


*लेसली उडविन

मैं भारत की बेटी **निर्भया
तुम्हें सलाम करती हूँ
बेटियाँ चाहे इंडिया की हो या इंग्लैंड की
अमरीका की हो या अफ़्रीका की
या फिर पृथ्वी के और किसी भू-भाग की
सबकी पीड़ा की भाषा एक होती है
यह पीड़ा ही थी
जिसने मिटा दी थी सारी दूरियाँ
भूला दिये थे सारे भेद
भेद में क्या है अभेद
मन-मस्तिष्क में कैसे कैसे छेद
तुम्हारे कैमरे की आँखे
खोल रही थी सारे बंद दरवाज़े
बलात्कारियों के दिमाग़ के पुर्ज़े-पुर्जे
ओह! कितना मवाद भरा है यहाँ
कितनी बदबू, कितनी सड़ांध है यहाँ
कितना विभत्स दृश्य है यहाँ
हर औरत बस एक शिकार है यहाँ
कैसा नग्न सत्य है यह
ना क़ाबिले बर्दाश्त है यह
बंद करो ! बंद करो ! बंद करो !
चिल्ला रहे हैं वे
सच्चाई से भाग रहे हैं वे
खुद से ही डर रहे हैं वे
धर्म और परंपरा के ठेकेदार हैं वे।
आओ उडविन
मेरे हाथों में अपना कैमरा दो
देखो ! कैमरा अब भी वही देख रहा है
सत्य कहाँ बदलता है
है अगर यह कोई साज़िश
तो औरत के खिलाफ है यह साज़िश
आधी मानवता के खिलाफ है यह साज़िश
आओ! सब मिलकर करे बेपर्द इसे ।


I Nirbhaya**,
the daughter of India, salute you.
Daughters of India or England,
America or Africa,
or from any other part of the world,
the language of their pain is the same.
And it was the pain only,
that bridged all the distances,
and erased all the differences.
But what was it,
that still remained unsolved?
Your lens traveled through many closed doors,
penetrating the dark tunnels of a rapist mind.
Oh! How rotten are the things here!
The foulness, the stench,
what a horrific scene is this,
every woman is just a prey!
The naked truth is now unbearable!
Stop! Stop! Stop!
They are shouting,
running away from the truth.
They are afraid of themselves,
those who are the saviors of religion
and faith!
give your camera in my hands.
Look! It still sees the same.
The unchangeable face of the truth.
And if there is a conspiracy,
it is against women.
A conspiracy against half of humanity,
Come! Let’s expose it together.

* Leslee Udwin – Director of the feature documentary “India’s Daughter”.
**Nirbhaya – Nirbhaya, meaning “Fearless”  is the nick name of the victim of gang rape in India, also known as Joyti Singh Pandey.



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