Verandas Surrounded by Iron Grille

I grew up in a small town that was also the largest town in the state.  The town still had a rural feeling with everyone in a locality known to each other.  Houses were mainly single-storey with tin roofs or thatched roofs with a front veranda and bamboo fencing. The front verandas were ubiquitous and were places where neighbors gathered throughout the day.  It was a place for neighborhood information processing much before social media invasion. As the town grew changes started happening, at first slowly and then at a rapid pace.  First to go were the bamboo fencings, replaced by concrete walls and gates.  Single-storey houses gave way to concrete building. Of late many had handed over their lands to developers to make multi-storey flats or apartment buildings.  Influx of people from all around has transformed the sleepy little town into a mega city, with all the trappings and issues that crop up with unplanned development.  One of the victims of the rapid growth has been the loss of neighborhood feeling.  Whatever single family homes that may still be present in a redeveloped neighborhood tend to barricade themselves in within the confines of iron grilled locked doors for (perceived) security.  Those open, inviting verandas of yore are long gone, replaced by iron grilled entries.  In the poem below, I try to capture my feelings regarding the loss of a lifestyle that I grew up with.  I wrote the poem first in my mother tongue, Assamese, and then translated to English.  Presenting the English version here first followed by the original Assamese version.

Verandas Surrounded by Iron Grille

The small town
Is a mega city now
Burgeoning flow of humanity
Swept away old social bonds
Worshippers of individuality
We pushed society away
At our own peril, we
Bargained our freedom
For security
Once our homes
Adorned with
Open verandas in front
Inviting
Now those
Wrapped in iron grilles
Locked
Providing false sense of security
Verandas are no longer visible
From the roads any more
No one sits
On the verandas now
Locks on the grilles
Uninviting
Detering neighbors from dropping in
Do we know our
Neighbors any more
Helping hands during emergencies
Extended unselfishly
Wonder where they have gone
How will unknown neighbors know
When emergency strikes
Behind the locked grille doors
Prisoners of security
We have been condemned
To a life without parole
In a prison
We made
For our own

লোহাৰ জালিৰে আৱৰা বাৰাণ্ডাবোৰ

সৰু চহৰখন
মহানগৰ হল
অজস্ৰ জনতাৰ স্ৰোতত
ভাহি গল তাহানিৰ
সামাজিক বন্ধন
সমাজখন দূৰলৈ থেলি
গাইগুটীয়া আমি
নিৰাপত্তাবিহীন
ঘৰৰ সন্মুখৰ বাৰাণ্ডা বোৰ
লোহাৰ জালিৰে ঘেৰি
ভুৱা নিৰাপত্তা লওঁ আকোৱালি
মহানগৰীত আলিবাটৰ পৰা
আজি আৰু কাৰো
খোলা বাৰাণ্ডা নাযায় দেখা
সন্মুখৰ খোলা বাৰাণ্ডা
আজি লোহাৰ জালিৰে আৱৰা
তাত কোনো নবহে
প্ৰকাণ্ড তলা ওলমি থকা লোহাৰ জালিয়ে
ওচৰ চুবুৰীয়াক সোমাই আহিবলৈ
নজনায় আমন্ত্ৰণ
ওচৰ চুবুৰীয়া হল অচিনাকী
কোনো আকস্মিক বিপদত আজি
ওচৰ চুবুৰীয়া নাহে আগবাঢ়ি
লোহাৰ জালিৰ বন্ধ দুৱাৰৰ ভিতৰত
বিপদৰ খবৰ পাবই বা কেনেকৈ
নিৰাপত্তাৰ সন্ধানত মহানগৰীত
লোহাৰ জালিৰে আৱৰা বাৰাণ্ডাৰ
স্বনিৰ্মিত বন্দীশালত
আমি আজি
নিৰাপত্তাৰ কয়েদী
যাৱজ্জীৱন কাৰাদণ্ডৰে দণ্ডিত
কাৰাৰুদ্ধ

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