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Jajabor - a way of the heart to not belong

Updated: Feb 2, 2022


There are words in languages around the world that are untranslatable. You cannot find the exact meaning of the word in another tongue. The likes of the Danish term, Hygge or Portuguese term, Saudade. I cannot really translate them, and do not want to put up something from translated by others from the internet. They may not really be apt after all.

Bird Illustration Art
A snap from the book "What a Wonderful Word" by Nicola Edwards and Luisa Uribe

That's how the phrase "lost in translation" comes in.


Like the Assamese word Jajabor.


Some tries to identify a Jajabor to be a nomad, a traveller, a flaneur/flaneuse, a wanderer, a vagabond...


The words wanderer or vagabond are still closer. A Jajabor need not be a nomad. A nomad still carries their home along.


Home is not just a roof and a static boundary of four walls. The home comprises everything that you own and live with, to survive and to savour. Something that you have earned, collected and which belongs to you. No, a Jajabor do not carry their homes along. And nomads travel in groups, with their kin, their community.


Jajabors are their own companion. Like the Bard of Brahmaputra sang (pardon my poor translation), "Me and my shadow, are companions for each other, O' world say not, that I am lonely (YouTube)."


Talking of the Bard, you cannot go without mentioning Bhupen Da and his songs, if you are discussing the Jajabori way of life. Not just his famous song, Moi Ati Jajabor (Spotify), but the spirit of a vagabond is a recurring theme in most of his songs.


I think of a Jajabor as rather a way of the heart, an attribute of the soul, a natural force of life that makes one be always on the go. One who do not want to stop and settle. A sort of detachment. To not belong anywhere, to no one in particular.

They do have places to dwell, yet they are sort of oghoris, a word for homeless in Asomiya. Not literary homeless, not vagrancy. It just means that one fine day, when they no more owe anyone money, the papers are put down, and the roof of the house is fixed for the monsoon, they may just pack a rucksack and make their way to the nearest bus terminal. Or may a railway station or even the airport, if they were rather planning this, unlike me.


It is not a calculatingly chosen way of life, you see. You cannot make a Jajabor out of someone. Neither can you force one to give up their longings to explore and lead a sedentary live. You don't choose for your heart; it is only other way round. The heart will choose for you. Could anyone till day win over their hearts? Yes, many, but I am not talking about them here.




So the point of this write up was to establish that different words in different languages cannot be aptly translated. Did I succeed, who cares. But then why attempt to bring everything under a definition? Why set boundaries to thoughts? Why try to grasp every possibility? Like how about that feeling of being not in love but helplessly drawn to someone you can never achieve, or may not exist... Or how about the feeling of alienation with people whom you your born to or are remotely connected. They say language helps to express. I say, at times, we must keep away languages and just let the heart do the talking alone.


As for a Jajabor, I am anyway a women, and strongly resonate with what Virginia Woolf said, "As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world."


Leaving you with the Assamese and English lyrics of the famous song, Moi Ati Jajabor by Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, along with the English translation by, ritzhere.com



Moi Eti Jajabor (মই এটি যাযাবৰ) |


মই এটি যাযাবৰ

মই এটি যাযাবৰ,

ধৰাৰ দিহিঙে-দিপাঙে লৱৰো

নিবিছাৰি নিজা ঘৰ

মই এটি যাযাবৰ

মই এটি যাযাবৰ….



মই লুইতৰ পৰা মিছিছিপি হৈ

ভল্গাৰে ৰূপ চালো,

অতোৱাৰ পৰা অষ্ট্ৰিয়া হৈ

পেৰিছ সাৱটি ল’লো,

মই ইলোৰাৰ পৰা পুৰণি ৰহণ

চিকাগোলে কঢ়িয়ালো,

গালিবৰ শ্বেৰ দুচম্বেৰ

মীনাৰত শুনা পালো

মাৰ্কটুৱেনৰ সমাধিত বহি

গৰ্কীৰ কথা ক’লো,

বাৰে বাৰে দেখো বাটৰ মানুহো

আপোন হৈছে পৰ,

সেয়ে মই যাযাবৰ

সেয়ে মই যাযাবৰ



বহু যাযাবৰ লক্ষ্যবিহীন

মোৰ পিছে আছে পণ,

ৰঙৰ খনি য’তেই দেখিছো

ভগাই দিয়াৰ মন,

বহু যাযাবৰ লক্ষ্যবিহীন

মোৰ পিছে আছে পণ,

ৰঙৰ খনি য’তেই দেখিছো

ভগাই দিয়াৰ মন,


মই দেখিছো অনেক গগণ চুম্বী

অট্টালিকাৰ শাৰী,

তাৰ ছাঁতেই দেখিছো ক’তনা

গৃহহীন নৰ-নাৰী,

মই দেখিছো কিছো ঘৰৰ সমুখ

বাগিছাৰে আছে ভৰি,

আৰু দেখিছো মৰহা ফুলৰ পাপৰি

অকালতে পৰা সৰি,

বহু দেশে দেশে গৃহদাস দেখি চিন্তিত হওঁ বৰ,

মনৰ মানুহ বহুতেই দেখো

ঘৰতেই হৈছে পৰ,

সেয়ে মই যাযাবৰ

সেয়ে মই যাযাবৰ ….

ধৰাৰ দিহিঙে-দিপাঙে লৱৰো

নিবিছাৰি নিজা ঘৰ

সেয়ে মই যাযাবৰ

সেয়ে মই যাযাবৰ

মই এটি যাযাবৰ ধৰাৰ

দিহিঙে-দিপাঙে লৱৰো নিবিছাৰি নিজা ঘৰ….


Moi eti jajabor Dhorar dihinge dipange loru Nibisari nija ghor Moi eti jajabor

Moi Luitor pora Mississippi hoi Volgar rup salu Ottawar pora Austria hoi Paris xaboti lolu Moi Ellorar pora puroni rohon Chicagole koriyalu Moi Galibor sher dushanber Minarot xuna palu Mark Twainor xomadhit bohi Gorkyr kotha kolu Bare bare dekhu bator manuhu Apun hoise bor Xeiye moi jajabor Xeiye moi jajabor

Bohu jajabor lokhyo bihin Mur pise ase pon Rongor khoni jotei dekhisu Bhogai diyar mon Moi dekhisu onek gogonsumbi Ottalikar xari Tar sa tei dekhisu kotona Grihohin noro-nari Moi dekhisu kisu ghoror xomukh Bagisare ase bhori Aru dekhisu moroha phulor papori Okalote pora xori Bohu dekhe dekhe grihodakh dekhi Sintito hou bor Monor manuh bohutei dekhu Ghorote hoise por Xeiye moi jajabor Xeiye moi jajabor




Moi Eti Jajabor by Bhupen Hazarika

(translated by Rituparna Borah)

I am a wanderer I am a wanderer I roam through the wilderness, unwilling to have a home I am a wanderer I am a wanderer From the Luit to the Mississippi and the Volga: I saw the beauty From Otowa to Austria to Paris: I hugged all the places I carried the heritage of Ellora to Chicago I heard Ghalib’s poetry in Dushanbe’s Minar I spoke of Gorky as I sat upon Mark Twain’s grave Each time I found that the co-passengers really grew quite close That’s why I am a wanderer That’s why I am a wanderer Many wanderers lack purpose I do have a vow though Wherever I see trove of colours, I wish to share them Many wanderers lack purpose I do have a vow though Wherever I see trove of colours, I wish to share them I have seen many queues of skyscrapers And in their shades so many homeless man and women I have seen gardens in the front yard of many houses And the withered petals of flowers falling before time I get worried at the sight of slavery in many a nation And many close people becoming strangers in my own nation That’s why I am a wanderer That’s why I am a wanderer I roam through the wilderness, unwilling to have a home That’s why I am a wanderer I am a wanderer I am a wanderer;

I roam through the wilderness, unwilling to have a home



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