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“When Did I Kill A Man?”, “Hate”, “By Any Chance He Freed”, “Mother Never Dies” and “Who Is Truly My Own?”

Written By Basudev Sunani, Translated to English by Pitambar Naik


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.


Hey, who are you around?

Come running

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.


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.


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.


Poetry, The River

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