The Gleam by Pabitra Mandal

I was out for walking in the morning,

I reached the temple unwittingly!

Mother Goddess looked rich,

Settled in the beautiful temple,

Thatched shed overhead disappeared!

The banyan sapling close by grew into a tree,

Could shower shade profusely…

Near to Goddess Mother

Arrived a few earlier,as they were,

Tainted face and look, indiscernible…

Two of them agog,gaming catch-n-throw

Yesterday’s boating merriment!

A confirmed sinner, I Iaid down 

The garland of guilts at the feet of Mother, Implored, Mom, forgive me!

I returned with emptiness of mind,

Bought biscuits from a bakery carriage on way,

‘I detained you in haste,bro!’I told the peddler.

Smile illumined the youth’s tired worn face 

As if rainbow flashed in the rain-wet sky,

What imploring softens the candle beam,

The gleam…


Analysis of the poem ‘The Gleam’

This is a self-conscious narrative. The ‘unwittingly’ visit to the temple of the mother goddess tends to criticize the intent of the speaker, here myself, his so-called religiosity.

   The temple is now a beautiful one – its material progress is witnessed, referred to  humourously ‘… Mother Goddess looks rich’. It is in replica to our quest of happiness with little faith. So two persons are seen discussing the boat-ride on the previous day, yet they have come to the mother goddess.

  The speaker’s submission with self-admission of ‘guilts’ tells of his inner cry for faith and surrender. He doesn’t know how he may achieve the same and experiences ‘emptiness of mind’ on his way back. He discovers something special in the smile of a peddler  from whose carriage he buys some bakery items. In his untiring work, the youth is happy with the sympathy and concern of the speaker for him.

    The youth’s happy smile has been compared with the rainbow, a simile. In a metaphor, the feelings of the young man towards the speaker has been described as the soft flame of light dedicated in a temple. It is a message  – work in faith adds happiness to life  ‘The gleam’ – SALVATION.

About the Poet

Pabitra Mandal was born  at Gopalnagar, a remote village in West Bengal, India on 25th March, 1958. His parents were displaced from East Pakistan and faced acute financial hardship. While studying in college, he started his service career as a postman in Tangra Post Office in Calcutta.

Pabitra Mandal could continue his studies. He passed BA (Hons.) and MA in English from the University of Calcutta and worked as a Teacher in English in Ramakrishna Mission, Narendrapur from 1984. He passed the West Bengal Civil Services Examination in 1989 and joined as a Block Development Officer in Murshidabad  in 1993.

He functioned in many responsible posts under Government and retired as the Special Secretary  in the Land and Land Reforms  Department in 1918. Thereafter he completed a tenure of judicial services in the Land Tribunal,West Bengal  for five years ending in 2023.

Pabitra Mandal got fascinated with the wilderness of the extended woods, barren fields, cultivated land and the transparent Ichhamati river at Bangaon, 24 Parganas, West Bengal, where he grew up. His love for Nature worked since boyhood.  His struggle in life moulded him substantially.

His first published work was a poem in the college magazine. Poetry was passion and he continued composing poems. His poems and short stories got published in different periodicals. His published works included  poetry books and short story collections altogether 09 (nine) in Bengali excepting a collection of poems in English entitled ‘Dream and Fire’ jointly with a co-poet and friend of his. He had some unpublished works – collections of poems, short stories in Bengali and English. He was awarded a few literary awards.

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