OBLIVION

OBLIVION
Nocturnal eyes stare at us
from the darkness
the cold heartedness sends a chill
down our spines
a sudden strike on the door,
a swift thud
and our men fall on the ground
full of blood.

Men in camouflage march in
breaking our doors and walls
a cacophony of screams, cries and merciless beatings
penetrate into our land
and our hearts.
Monotonous, steady drops of water drip from the tap
women scream and shout resisting rape
our Mother cries helplessly
crimson red tears flow endlessly

Like glowworms, we flicker in the dark
the Sun refuses to shine,
we stay in the dark,
there’s no Light.
This is us –
we play about the mouth of Death
our lives drowned in merciless oblivion.

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Night I Dread

NIGHT I DREAD
It is the night I dread
when everything is dark
and every hope slips away
like I’m drowning, carried
away by the wild waves.

It is the night I dread
for the wait seems unending,
it’s darkest before dawn but
how long will the lone warrior
battle alone in the dark?
It all seems like a joke
I want to end it all somedays.

It is the night I dread
‘cause old friend insomnia
visits me with tidings
dragging along all the blue
I don’t even know what’s
left of me.

It is the night I dread
for in one night all was over.

The Clever Fox – Manipuri folktale

Lumhui Lousing (The Clever Fox)
[In Manipuri society the fox is regarded as a very cunning animal. If a man is very cunning he is often pejoratively called a fox or a man whose behaviour is foxy. Such fox stories are an attribute to the analysis of human character in order to make people wise. To be wise is appreciated but to be cunning is a negative marker in our society.]

Once upon a time, there lived a fox couple in the forest. The reynard (male fox) was very clever. The vixen (female fox) was pregnant. And so, one day she asked the reynard to bring her some fish since she was craving for it. The reynard went far and wide in search of some fish. On the way, he came across a lake. A huge python resided in it too. The reynard jumped on the python, sat on it and hunted fish mistaking the python for a floating phum¹. While the python was taken aback by the reynard’s audacity, the reynard jumped off the python and went away with the fish he had caught to feed his wife. The python was infuriated by the reynard thinking that the latter had disrespected him.

The next day, the python disguised himself as a dead cow when the reynard came to hunt fish again. The reynard realized that it was not a dead cow and tried to bite the back of the python’s neck; at the same time, the python tried to hit the reynard’s mouth with his huge tail. Both missed the targets. The reynard narrated the entire story to his wife and told her that it was not safe for them to stay in the same place anymore because the python would come hunting for them. For their safety and safeguard, they left that place.

On their way, the vixen suffered terrible labour pain and gave birth to pups in a bush. But the bush turned out to be the residing place of a tiger. Nearby the tiger’s place, on top of a huge tree a monkey resided too. The clever reynard did not want to kill the tiger and so he pretended to befriend the monkey. While they were making plans as to how they would kill the tiger, the tiger reached the place. As they had planned, when the tiger reached the place, the reynard shouted to the monkey from a bush, “Dear friend, when you give birth to your infants ten tigers die, how many tigers will die when my pups are born?” On hearing this, the tiger got scared and ran towards the side the monkey was hiding and in the confrontation that followed the monkey was killed by the tiger. The tiger ate the dead monkey. But the tiger was scared that the fox would come and so he went to a place and hid there.

In this way, the clever fox lived happily for many years with his vixen and pups.


¹Floating biomass which can be found in the Loktak Lake of Manipur. Also known as phumdi, it is heterogeneous mass of decomposed soil, vegetation and organic matter.

Manipuri Folktale Translation

Tenawagi Wari (The Parrot’s Story)
[The relationship between human beings and birds is prehistoric. Both are interdependent. The story questions the rational attributes of human beings while it cherishes the faithful nature of the animal kingdom to be much more dependable.]
A long time back, there lived an old man and his old wife. The old couple did not have any children so they kept a pet parrot treating it as if it were their own child. As the days passed by, the parrot grew into a full-fledged adult parrot. One day, a flock of parrots came to the place where the old couple lived. Seeing the domesticated old couple’s parrot they said – “Dear friend, do you like staying with the humans and not being able to fly freely, would you not like to fly independently across forests like us, eating delicious fruits and drinking the hills’ stream water?” The old couple’s parrot replied – “Dear friends, I do want all that, but it is wrong to leave my guardians without hearing their word, if they agree to my going I will come with you all. Do come to see me tomorrow at this very time.” The flock of parrots flew away after staying there for a while. The parrot went up to the old couple and said, “My dear guardians, I want to fly with my friends across forests and eat the delicious fruits of the forests. I will bring back some for you too.” The old couple agreed to the parrot’s request. The old man said to the parrot, “Fine, then my child, go early and come back early”.
The next morning dawned and the parrots came to the old couple’s place at the same time as the day before and asked to the parrot, “Dear friend, did your guardians agree?” The parrot replied, “Yes, yes.” In this way the parrot mingled together with the flock and flew away. They flew and roamed across far away forests and jungles. After roaming and eating lots of fruits the parrot brought back a fruit for the old guardians and gave it to them. After eating the fruit, the old couple said, “Goodness! Our parrot’s fruit is so tasty, go again tomorrow.” In this way the parrot used to go everyday and the old couple were very happy too. Waiting for their pet parrot turned out to be their job. One day, the flock of parrots suggested that they go to a place where more delicious fruits were available to which the parrot said yes. They told the parrot that the fruits of that place were tasty and they as well carried the power to make old people young again. The parrot had a feeling that he will be late that day but the thought of making the old couple young again carried him forward to the new place. When they reached that place they said, “We shall eat the other fruits, the magical fruit shall be left for the old couple.” The parrot, like the others, ate a different fruit and got a fresh magical fruit for his guardians. The parrot flew home with the other parrots thinking happily that his guardians will be young again; at the same time he remembered what the other parrots had told him – “The moment old people eat this fruit they turn young again, but it should not fall on the ground, if so it loses its magical power.” But suddenly, the fruit fell down! The parrot cried, “Gosh! It fell down. What do I do?”
On the other hand, the old couple was happily waiting for their parrot’s return but the parrot came back broken hearted. They enquired about their fruit for the day but the parrot narrated the entire incident very sadly. Although they were unhappy about what had happened, they told the parrot not to worry and asked him to get the magical fruit the next day. The thought of gaining back their youth made them happy again. The next day dawned and the parrot went away with his flock as usual. He asked the other parrots to fly to the place they went the previous day but they refused saying that they wanted to go to a nearby forest. The parrot had no other choice but to comply.
Happy that they were going to be young again, the old couple bathed and cleaned themselves properly waiting expectantly for their parrot. They were very happy to see their parrot return and asked if he got the magical fruit. But the parrot told them that his friends did not want to go to that forest and asked to wait for a few days. The old couple was upset again but they did not show it to their parrot. In this way, many days had passed by. The old couple kept on asking about the magical fruit. So one day, the parrot asked his friends to fly to the forest where the magical fruit was available. One of the elder parrots told him that there was a place they had not gone yet, and in this very place there was another magical fruit which the parrots or any other bird or animal could eat and become youthful again. So, the parrots flew to that forest and ate to their heart’s content. The parrot got one fresh fruit for his guardians but the fruit fell again on the way back home. Sadly, he went to the house.
The old couple was tired of waiting for their parrot. On hearing that the fruit had fallen on the ground again, they were angry and upset but the old man said that hopefully they will get to eat the fruit some other time. But the old woman could not control her anger anymore and hit the parrot with the ladle she was holding scolding him for being dishonest, deceitful and for disrespecting both her and the old husband. The parrot died on the spot and they buried it in the front edge of their court yard. In the very same spot, a plant started to grow. The old couple decided to keep the plant and over time it became a beautiful, full grown tree. The tree bore just one fruit; it was very beautiful and awe inspiring to look at. One day, the old man told the old woman to pluck the fruit without letting it fall on the ground. The old woman did as told and the old man took a bite first after which he became youthful once again. He said, “Hanubi, I’m youthful once again.” On hearing this, the old woman took a bite and she too became youthful. They were happy beyond words and remembered their parrot. The old woman regretted killing the parrot and lamented over what had happened. The old man thought in retrospection, “Oh! Human beings, because of their narrow mindedness, have killed an innocent bird.”

HOURS

HOURS

In a dream so vast
you and I sailed through
the limitless ocean
swinging through the bubbly waves
singing,
our two hearts intertwined like the
lines on my palm.

Perfect in my fancy
marred by the horror
of reality it sinks.
Shadows of this ghostly love
follow me at night
while times plays chess with me.

Minutes, hours, days…

It is the hours count
in vain it is the hours I count.

SILENCE

SILENCE

Silent stares and thumping
heart beats,
brown eyes:
un-winking and coy,
passed our lives unobtrusively.

Feelings hidden under our
umbrella of silence ,
neither are you here
nor am I there.

Fates departed, paths divided,
we are the two paths
diverged in the woods.

I WONDER

I WONDER

The sun sets and hides
behind those hills
but I wonder if the
sun should come up
and show itself again

I wonder what will happen
to us at night
should we swirl round
and round through chaos
and become chaos ourselves?

I wonder if our story
should become someone’s saddest lines
or would they whisper –
sometimes I loved you
and sometimes you loved me too?

I wonder if we should have
made wings, we could fly
away now – far and far away
and if our wax should melt
we’ll come down and down,
down will we come
and end ourselves.

DELIRIUM

DELIRIUM

In the middle of the night you woke me up,
in the middle of the night I ran
took some feverish steps towards
that smell,
that smell which drove me wild
sometime in the past…
in mid air it vanished
in mid air we lost each other
and in my heart you left a hole.