Saturday, March 8, 2014

Translation: Sunset by Nitin Sawhney

I first heard this song on a compilation CD one of my students gave me nearly a decade ago. This was the first song, and the music and voice gripped me from the first second. I didn't know who was singing, what he was singing, but that didn't matter. The English vocals were no less enticing; I must have listened to this song hundreds of times, if not thousands, over the last ten years.

Over that time, I learned that the singer in English was Eska. That the beginning lyrics were in Bengali. That the singer's name was Pandit Jayanta Bose. That I would eventually meet people who had learned to sing from him. And I would learn how to read and write those lyrics that at first listen were nothing but beautiful music, and today I am able to translate these four lines for you.

হঠাৎ যদি আমি থেমে যেতাম
শেষ বিকেলের মতো অস্ত যেতাম
অসীম রাতের শেষে শয়নে
সূর্যের সাথে আমি ঘুমিয়ে যেতাম

Hothat jodi ami theme jetam
Shesh bikeler moto osto jetam
Ashim raater sheshe shoyone
Surjer saathe ami ghumiye jetam

If I were suddenly to pause; to set beyond the horizon as dusk arrives,
At last, in the bed of boundless night, I would fall asleep with the sun.

(Special thanks go to Abhik Ray for discussing compound verbs with me at length, and Shumon Sengupta for his translations of Tagore that inspired me to do this.)


  1. One of my favourite music composers. The lyrics are thought provoking, the voice evocative.

    1. Mine too, for many, many years. Have you heard his recent BBC programmes?

  2. Truly amazing, this man!
    Huge fan from Pakistan!

  3. Thanks for this. I want to sing the whole song!!

  4. Thank you so much for this! I have always been touched by the beauty of these words I didnt understand, now I know.


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