A Rose Burning in the Cold

With Lakhan Lal Singh "Arohi"

With Lakhan Lal Singh “Arohi”

In 2009 I met the Hindi poet and fiction writer Lakhan Lal Singh “Arohi” in Patna. I spoke with him about Hindi literature in the 21st century, and also about literature in Maithili and Angika—languages of eastern Bihar.

This week, I have been rereading Arohi ji’s work with an eye for material to use in the classroom. He writes both poetry and prose. It’s all wonderful, and much of it is clear enough for a first-year Hindi student to read and understand.

Ṭhanḍ mẽ jaltā gulāb—the concluding piece in his collection of short stories titled Māṭī kā tevar—is especially nice for Hindi learners. It’s a short piece: a poem-like short story. But there is a lot here for classroom discussion. Who is speaking? Why a red rose? What might the story reveal about family life in north India? If you are learning Hindi, see how you get along with the help of the vocabulary list.

ठंढ में जलता गुलाब, लखन लाल सिंह “आरोही”

जाड़े की रात और कड़ाके की ठंढ। बातावरण सन्नाटे से ढँका था। कोठरी में गर्म कपड़ों में लिपटा नींद में खोया था। कोठरी के भीतर अंधेरा पसरा था। खिड़कियाँ बंद थीं!

अचानक मेरी नींद टूट गई! बाहर से बर्त्तन धोने की आवाज़ आ रही थी! मेरे मन में प्रश्न रेंग गया−इस भयंकर सर्दी में कौन नल पर बर्त्तन साफ कर रहा है?

मैंने खिड़की खोलकर बाहर झाँका। एक लाल गुलाब ठंढ में जल रहा था!

“A Rose burning in the frost”

Winter night, severe frost—the atmosphere was cloaked in silence. I was in my room, bundled in warm clothes, lost in sleep. Outside the room, darkness spread. The window was shut!

My sleep was suddenly interrupted! The sound of pots being washed came from outside. A question crept into my head—Who was at the tap washing pots in such frightening cold?

I opened the window and glanced outside. A red rose was burning in the frost!

ठंढ cold, frost
अचानक suddenly
जलना to burn
टूटना to break
गुलाब rose
बर्त्तन pots, dishes
जाड़े winter
धोना to wash
कड़ाका severe, cracking sound (like lightning)
आवाज़ sound
बातावरण atmosphere
सर्दी cold/winter
सन्नाटा silence
रेंगना to creep, crawl
ढँकना to be covered
नल tap
कोठरी room, small house
लिपटना to be wrapped
भयंकर frightening
नींद sleep
झाँकना to peer, glance
खोना to lose
खिड़की window
के भीतर outside
पसरना to be spread out
अंधेरा darkness प्रश्न question

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