28.6.13

Kalahandi

In the shifting shadows of lantern light
Her hollow contours become yet more pronounced
Against the pitch darkness of the impatient man
As he advances she struggles with the suffocating stench
Of empty sacks stained with kerosene smoke
Smell of hooch, of sweat, of flesh, the Man's
Drunken half-smile, look of vague desire, the dark
Hollow of her dry hung elongated breasts, the dark
Gaping cleavages of paddy fields throw a mocking sneer.
Erratic fingers, nails digging into the skin -
Haggard looking crows swooping down in haphazard trajectories.
Twisting of bodies, arms clasping, unclasping
Emaciated naked children fight over a loaf
Of dark bread snatched from a tired dog :
silhouettes of puppets in a drollery
A woman wails by the body
Of husband crushed under a sack of relief rice
his breath, her breath, hot, mingling together :
Dry leaves rustle in the mid-afternoon air.
She cambers up, indifferent, like a crab, in spasms
As the hairy-chested man lunges for a decisive thrust :
Look of tiredness in the eyes,
ready to bite, but unable to move the underjaws.
Her body, breathing, lies exhausted -
A gleam of compromised content in her eyes
Having added two rupees to the forty she earned last
week by selling off her daughter.

---Dr Tapan Kumar Pradhan

27.6.13

Love's Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever,
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another's being mingle;--
Why not I with thine?
See! the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower would be forgiven,
If it disdained it's brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;--
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?

---Percy Bysshe Shelley (1803-1822)

26.6.13

Hour of Coming

Death does not come when you call Him
However much you call, He never comes :
He comes only at his appointed hour -
Playing hide and seek, biding his time
Comes Death one day
all of a sudden !
When you are lying alone in your bed of rags,
Flies on your face and blood in nostrils,
Knees full of pus, boils under buttocks
With nobody to say even 'Ah Dear !' to you
No strength left even to vomit things out
Eyes filled with tears mixed with pain
You cry out loud - Death ! Death ! O Death!
Can't bear it any more Oh Take me away Death !!
But never comes Death !
When you are sitting alone in the middle of night
Under village banyan tree wrapped in a blanket
Looking at younger brother's funeral pyre :
In the burning embers you see wife's dead face
Remember playmates, school-friends, dead face
And cry out loud pressing your aching heart to chest
Friends gone, kin gone, daughter gone to in-laws :
Why do you O Lord still keep me in this world !
You wish, if only
could just now
come Death !!
Never comes Death !
When you are relaxing supine in your morning bed
Pressing the radio close, listening to cricket :
India versus Pakistan - ah, final match,
Ten runs to win, and just another wicket :
Your daughter comes near and breaks the news
Son-in-law's promotion - ah what a good news,
Playing in her lap little four-month old grandson
with soft pink little fingers fondles your beard :
"Oh dear one ! my diamond one ! my golden one, my little one !
Umhh... my remaining years be all yours, O lovely one.... !"
You softly kiss your grandson's forehead -
Four runs to win :
Then comes Death !

---Dr Tapan Kumar Pradhan

25.6.13

Dreams

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

--- Langston Hughes

14.6.13

Stage

We didn’t go to the stage,
nor were we called.
With a wave of the hand
we were shown our place.
There we sat
and were congratulated,
and “they”, standing on the stage,
kept on telling us of our sorrows.
Our sorrows remained ours,
they never became theirs.
When we whispered out doubts
they perked their ears to listen,
and sighing,
tweaking our ears,
told us to shut up,
apologize; or else...

--Waharu Sonavane; translated by Bharat Patankar, Gail Omvedt, and Suhas Paranjape

7.6.13

कहा था किसने के अहदे-वफ़ा करो उससे

कहा था किसने के अहदे-वफ़ा करो उससे
जो यूं किया है तो फिर क्यूँ गिला करो उससे

ये अह्ले-बाज़ तुनक हौसला सही फिर भी
ज़रा फ़साना-ए-दिल इब्तिदा करो उससे

ये क्या के तुम ही गमे -हिज्र के फ़साने कहो
कभी तो बहाने सुना करो उस से

नसीब फिर कोई तकरीब-ए-कुर्ब हो के न हो
जो दिल में हो यही बातें किया करो उससे

फ़राज़ तर्के -ताल्लुक तो खैर क्या होगा
यही बहुत है के कम-कम मिला करो उससे|

---: अहमद फराज़

5.6.13

मीठापन जो लाया था मैं गाँव से

मीठापन जो लाया था मैं गाँव से
कुछ दिन शहर रहा अब कड़वी ककड़ी है।

तब तो नंगे पाँव धूप में ठंडे थे
अब जूतों में रहकर भी जल जाते हैं
तब आया करती थी महक पसीने से
आज इत्र भी कपड़ों को छल जाते हैं
मुक्त हँसी जो लाया था मैं गाँव से
अब अनाम जंजीरों ने आ जकड़ी है।

तालाबों में झाँक,सँवर जाते थे हम
अब दर्पण भी हमको नहीं सजा पाते
हाथों में लेकर जो फूल चले थे हम
शहरों में आते ही बने बहीखाते
नन्हा तिल जो लाया था मैं गाँव से
चेहरे पर अब जाल-पूरती मकड़ी है।

तब गाली भी लोकगीत-सी लगती थी
अब यक़ीन भी धोखेबाज़ नज़र आया
तब तो घूँघट तक का मौन समझते थे
अब न शोर भी अपना अर्थ बता पाया
सिंह-गर्जना लाया था मैं गाँव से
अब वह केवल पात-चबाती बकरी है।

---कुँअर बेचैन

4.6.13

Die Slowly

He who becomes the slave of habit,
who follows the same routes every day,
who never changes pace,
who does not risk and change the color of his clothes,
who does not speak and does not experience,
dies slowly.

He or she who shuns passion,
who prefers black on white,
dotting ones i's rather than a bundle of emotions, the kind that make your eyes glimmer,
that turn a yawn into a smile,
that make the heart pound in the face of mistakes and feelings,
dies slowly.

He or she who does not turn things topsy-turvy,
who is unhappy at work,
who does not risk certainty for uncertainty,
to thus follow a dream,
those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives,
die slowly.

He who does not travel, who does not read,
who does not listen to music,
who does not find grace in himself,
she who does not find grace in herself,
dies slowly.

He who slowly destroys his own self-esteem,
who does not allow himself to be helped,
who spends days on end complaining about his own bad luck, about the rain that never stops,
dies slowly.

He or she who abandons a project before starting it, who fails to ask questions on subjects he doesn't know, he or she who doesn't reply when they are asked something they do know,
dies slowly.
Let's try and avoid death in small doses,
reminding oneself that being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing.
Only a burning patience will lead
to the attainment of a splendid happiness.

---Pablo Neruda

Prayers fall on deaf ears

(The Armed Forces (Special Powers Act) has been in operation in Assam since 1990 and in many other north-eastern States for even more longer a duration)

The sweat drips from his brow

and makes the earth greener.

His wife is nearby planting hopes.

And the valley admires in silence

But then a green monster comes

And sucks away all the air,

A terrified silence echoes.

From the womb of the monster

descend some uniformed aliens

who ask silent questions.

And take the man away shackled

as a prize for their

horrific curiosity.

The wife mutters a thousand prayers

that act as music to deaf ears.

The Prayers, the wails

All get dissolved in the black trail the monster leaves.

Son killed in encounter

The old lady is waiting in the light of that

Old flickering kerosene lamp,

for her son to bring the day’s rations.

And she hears a knock

On her tattered door.

And finds a relative telling her,

between melodic intermittent wails;

That her son was killed in an encounter.

Her Son! Who left home that morning

with a smile on his lips

And an empty jute bag on his cycle

for the day’s job, was a terrorist!

And immediately the lady

feels winter descending in summer

a winter that will forever grasp her

Heart and her hearth

squeezing out the last rays of hope.

Monsters feed on her flesh

She works the whole day

In that tailoring shop.

Stitching old pockets and broken dreams.

On her way back in dusk;

some of the many defenders of the nation

Pass her lecherous stares

and unspeakable comments.

When she rebukes them for their criminal audacity

She is gagged and carried to a place

where the light of law is dim.

There, the monsters feed on her flesh

one by one, taking disciplined turns

When they are done devouring;

they kill her to save themselves

the trouble of an explanation

A voice is silenced in the woods

A body is barked.

Ants will become lions

When they are chasing a cricket ball

the kids are delirious

Their laughter doesn’t gel well with some

Some of those young, sporting souls are

Are taken away to play a sport

which has just one victor, always!

All that is left to know for their parents after that

Is that dreaded word: “Missing”

One day when the third eye

Of humanity twitches open

The defenders will know

That when the ants realise that-

They too possess the strengths of lions

The forest won’t remain the same anymore!

---Bistirna Barua

2.6.13

हमको मन की शक्ति देना

हमको मन की शक्ति देना, मन विजय करें ।
दूसरों की जय से पहले, खुद की जय करें ।
हमको मन की शक्ति देना ॥

भेदभाव अपने दिल से, साफ कर सकें ।
दूसरों से भूल हो तो, माफ कर सकें ।
झूठ से बचे रहें, सचका दम भरें ।
दूसरों की जयसे पहले,

मुश्किलें पडें तो हम पे, इतना कर्म कर ।
साथ दें तो धर्म का, चलें तो धर्म पर ।
खुद पे हौसला रहे, सच का दम भरें ।
दूसरों की जय से पहले, खुद की जय करें ।

---गुलज़ार

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