To meet a poet of one’s own language in a different language is like meeting a friend or an acquaintance in an alien land. The strangeness of the medium turns into a torchlight which illuminates the hitherto unknown or unseen facets of the person. You are left wondering if it is the same person you were confident of having known well. That is the feeling I got reading This Number Does Not Exist, a selection of poems by Mangalesh Dabral spanning his entire poetic career. The poems have been translated by several people, some of them poets themselves and some scholars of Hindi literature teaching in the universities of UK and the USA. The poems for the volume have been selected by the poet. One can say with some justification that this is how the poet probably wants to represent himself in a language other than his own.
August 2014, volume 38, No 8