MEGHDOOT (*Cloud Messenger)

Inspired by one of Kālidāsa‘s (considered among Sanskrit’s greatest poets) most famous masterpieces, here’s my 21st century English version, with creative license.

O grey cloud over my head
Rise up, won’t you, and carry a message from me
To my beloved across the seven seas
And tell me of your journey as you navigate beyond
Relaying back the sights you see
For me to see your every step in my mind’s eye

But wait, change your complexion as you go
To white, exuberant cumulus
She must not see me in you this way

My heart says thank you
As you set forth
And I can feel my spirits lift
As you start floating away

Do you see mountains tall & rivers wide?
What more do you see?
Deserts and meadows and forests wild?
Forces of the Universe that keep us apart?
The changing of the seasons?
The waxing & waning of the moon?
Symbols of life, destiny, hopes and moods?
Oceans, a mass of swirling currents?
The swell of the tides?
Stars aplenty, galaxies beyond?
The future, unknown

Tell me, can you spot her fair land now?
Does the colour reflect her face?
Is it as clear as her heart?

The shooting star that’s accompanying you?
Let it convey to her that my wish is her love

Hurry onwards, make haste
As you get closer
My heartbeat accelerates its pace

Can you see her town?
How different is it from mine?
I see it is summer there
Can you convince the weather gods to make it an endless one?

Can you see her house?
Wait, cast a glance inside
Does she sleep in peace?
Her bed, is it still single?

Can you send down a shower?
As the scent of petrichor fills her senses
It might draw her out
And have the birds chirp, please
She’ll be happy to hear their sound!
The glorious rainbow that’s burst forth
Is my beloved the proverbial pot of gold at its end?

Can you see her face?
Can the accompanying wind gust just a bit
So I can see her hair flutter seductively in the breeze
Amid a delicate scatter of leaves?
That done, request Brother Sol to send down a sunbeam
So I see the warm glow and the smile it brings

Now, descend slowly as a subtle wisp of mist
And go even closer still
Can you see her eyes?
Move in, look deep into them and tell me:
Does she love me, as I do her?

Meghdoot, by Kālidāsa, is a poem of 111 stanzas. It recounts how a yakṣa, a subject of King Kubera (the god of wealth), after being exiled for a year for neglecting his duties, convinces a passing cloud to take a message to his wife at Alaka on Mount Kailasa in the Himalayas. The yakṣa accomplishes this by describing the many beautiful sights the cloud will see on its northward course, where his wife awaits his return.


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