By Vi.Va. Shirwadkar, winner of Sahitya Academy award, Jnanpith Award, and Padma Bhushan.

ओळखलत का सर मला?’ पावसात आला कोणी,

कपडे होते कर्दमलेले, केसांवरती पाणी.

‘Did you recognize me, Sir?’ – someone came through the rain

Muddy clothes, wet hair,

क्षणभर बसला नंतर हसला बोलला वरती पाहून,

‘गंगामाई पाहुणी आली, गेली घरट्यात राहुन’.

He sat for a few moments, laughed, looked up and said:

“Mother Ganga visited us, stayed with us a bit;

माहेरवाशिणीसारखी चार भिंतीत नाचली,

मोकळ्या हाती जाईल कशी, बायको मात्र वाचली.

Like a daughter returning home, danced within my four walls,

How could she leave empty-handed?

Only my wife was saved,

भिंत खचली, चूल विझली, होते नव्हते नेले,

प्रसाद म्हणून पापण्यांवरती पाणी थोडे ठेवले.

Walls destroyed, stove extinguished, took everything we had,

As a parting gift, left a few drops of water under our eyelids,

कारभारणीला घेउन संगे सर आता लढतो आहे

पडकी भिंत बांधतो आहे, चिखलगाळ काढतो आहे.

With my wife beside me, I’m keeping up the struggle,

re-building the broken walls, cleaning the mud”

खिशाकडे हात जाताच हसत हसत उठला

‘पैसे नकोत सर’, जरा एकटेपणा वाटला.

मोडून पडला संसार तरी मोडला नाही कणा,

पाठीवरती हात ठेउन, तुम्ही फक्‍त लढ म्हणा!

As my hand went towards my pocket,

he laughed and got up,

“Sir, I don’t want money. I was just lonely

My home is broken, not my backbone,

Put your hand on my back, and just say ‘Keep up the struggle'”

(Contributed by Navin)

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