Written By Basudev Sunani, Translated to English by Pitambar Naik
WHEN DID I KILL A MAN?
Once I asked a policeman
well, you killed that man
shooting in the chest
didn’t you feel agonised?
The answer quivers:
When did I kill a man?
I killed only a Muslim.
Hearing this, I was reminded
of an utterance
from the Mahabharata
Arjuna said I didn’t kill my
own kith and kin
but only the rival enemies.
The cop said right.
I’ve never hated anybody with this intensity.
I observe, the intensity of hate for
that person is multiplying.
I try to pluck the petals of hate persistently
yet, the petals multiply being grafted
and hate branches out.
Despite the freedom of speech, in silence
I couldn’t mention his name even within
the four walls in fear.
If you want to recognise that man
rush, come running to me now
hey, netizens come running,
very soon, I’m going to declare the name
of that traitor on an open stage.
Notes: Dalits, the untouchables in India are alienated, targeted and discriminated against by the caste Hindus in various manners for no fault of theirs. Casteism is a discriminatory war against a huge chunk of people in India. This poem depicts how Dalits suffer at the hands of caste Hindus on a daily basis.
BY ANY CHANCE HE FREED
Hey, who are you around?
catch hold of him
capture him quickly.
Amputate his legs with a saw
scoop his eyeballs out
fill chilli powder into his asshole
feed him human excreta
punch and kick him
parade him naked, spit saliva
and phlegm into his mouth
stab him over and over again.
Burn him in smouldering afflictions
by any chance he freed
he’ll shatter your humming
and saccharine hullabaloos
that have been preserved
cleverly and discriminatorily.
He’ll break the antique temple
of casteism into crumbles
and you’d be handling the
geography of your nation.
MOTHER NEVER DIES
Has anyone ever heard of or seen a mother dying?
Man dies but Mother never, she can’t die
she‘s always present around, in the eyes when alive
and at the end of human life in the chest
she fondles every single orphan in her saree drape
she doesn’t die, which is why symbolically
the land and the nation are called mothers.
And that’s the reason why the nation and the land
live exactly like a mother for eternity.
When a mother dies, the soil cracks and
the nation breaks and there remains no difference
between affection and fondness
knit between a mother, land and the nation.
After aeons, perhaps a mother has died not
hiding in any shanty or any unknown village’s field
rather beside the national railway track,
in the sunlight, in front of the eyes of crores of people
it’s astonishing that whether or not the soil
has cracked, whether or not the nation has broken
no information has reached the crores of
orphans and ignorant children of the nation.
WHO IS TRULY MY OWN
I meet two people every day
one is a friend
and the other is a foe.
The friend is remembered
only at the time of danger
but, the foe is remembered
without a cease,
over and over again.
I can’t understand
who truly is my own?
About the Author:
Basudev Sunani is an award-winning writer. Some of his phenomenal volumes of poetry are Asprushya, Karadi Haata, Chhi, Kaaliaa Ubaacha, Bodha Hue Bhala Paaibaa Mote Jana Nahin and Mu Achhi Boli. He has also two novels and five volumes of critical essays. His work has been translated into English, German, Aboriginal Australian and in many Indian languages. He is a veterinarian by profession and is a Deputy Commissioner currently at the Ministry of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Government of India. He was born and brought up in the undivided Kalahandi district of Odisha.
About the Author:
Pitambar Naik is an advertising copywriter. When he’s not creating ideas for brands, he writes and translates poetry. His work appears or is forthcoming in JMWW, Singapore Unbound, Ellipsis Literature and Art, The McNeese Review, The Notre Dame Review, and elsewhere. He’s the author of the poetry collections The Anatomy of Solitude (Hawakal) and Fury Species, translation (Rehor Publishers) and currently working on his third collection of poetry. He grew up in Odisha and now lives in Bangalore, India.