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Date of Publish: 2017-04-08

A few poems of Anubhav Tulasi

The Pact

The term of my pact

Signed with the sun

Is over.

I’m free.

Even freedom can’t reach me now.

In this life

you too can’t reach me.

I can be reached only by a hook.

To be a hook

You’ve to peg out and gyrate

On a phantom-wheel.

I’m sure to bite the dust too

Biding my time

Till you transform into a hook.

In the hearth of Hades I’ll warm myself

Cremate the hook with its entire lineage.

The hook-burning flames shall extinguish

In your eyes.

Every wish of yours shall turn into stars.

Your stars shall shed tears.

In no way tears reach me.

I’m free.

I’d signed the pact only with the sun.

But long before the pact

The very term of the sun had ended.

(Translation from Assamese by Krishna Dulal Barua)

Vincent

For days on end

I’ve longed for

a chat with you

Vincent

I do not know

your present whereabouts

You too haven’t let me know that

On that afternoon in our place too

over the green fronds of the areca nut trees

crows flew past

Tents of dusks

vague and quiet

were pitched

Over the vibrant golden expanse of wheat

the crows flew past

Maybe this is the same flight of them

Maybe the same ancient river

the same whisperings of women

trapped in the leaves of myth

In the still water

of the ancestral well

the shade of the cypress trees

Soaking the dirty sky in lie

I was thrashing myself

Thrash

Thrash

Like whiplashes

you came to my mind

and your river

That slice of hope

to have a chat with you

has gone down

in the western horizon

beyond the waterspout

(Translated from Assamese by Nirendra Nath Thakuria)

Post-mortem

Anubhav Tulasi

In the nine-year old chest

of Ruhul shot dead

at the Last Gate strike

two holes

Through the big one

I look at the sky

There the huts made of

mats of elephant grass

are being destroyed

at someone’s bidding

In the other hole

is set a telescope

through which one

can clearly see

the politics of the entire earth

Whenever eyes

are taken away

the true scenes

die down

and there sprout

wonders

( Translated from Assamese by Nirendra Nath Thakuria)

I can’t say

In no way I’ll go to the patient to ask after him

Despite myself

I go to the hospital and stand by the patient’s bed

Sitting on the patient’s bed I massage my limbs

As I live the collective life of all patients

I look at myself plaintively

Clasping one hand with the other I implore

Do something, do something

In no way I’ll be a pall bearer

Despite myself

sometimes I pick up some body

And in the neat pyre

I myself get into it

This time I cannot look at myself

Clasping one hand with the other

I can’t say anything

( Translated from Assamese by Nirendra Nath Thakuria)

Freedom

The wind is jesting

The fluttering flag

is guffawing

and guffawing

The flag has said to the wind

I was thinking of you

Chum

you’ll live long

This time the wind is laughing

which echoed in the flag

guffawing and guffawing

The ripples of guffawing

are wafting in the open

The wind asks the flag

Those who have flown balloons

and set pigeons free

haven’t they unfurled you

in the name of freedom

Have they unfurled you

or tethered you

For the next ten minutes

both the wind and the flag

kept silent

( Translated from Assamese by Nirendra Nath Thakuria)

Bow-Asana

He came after two at night

With two others

The night, after all, was hardly any night

Amidst the glaring halogens

Darkness ripped apart

He came after three at night

With two others

They were three in all, poachers of fish

God was wide awake

Jagannatha’s Rath Jatra had ended very late

Tossing and turning about

Time crept

Just then a mild rustle

Just then a faint tinkle

A bid to open a drum-lid

On the ice-bed the fishes too

Missed their sleep

God fishes and men

Men, fishes and God

Closed in stealthily

Instantly the two accomplices

Seemed to take wing

Only he pitifully tripped in his bid

God grasped him in a flash

The men tied his hand and feet

To his back

The fishes uttered near his face

‘Come on, have your fish, raw and fresh’

At the hands of God what could he resist

At the hands of men his head was to crumble

And the fishes would have their dips in his warm blood

To get reinvigoration

It was hard to tell

Whether the morning clamour was of birds

Or men

The police arrived to find in him

An ideal bow-asana

(Translated from Assamese Krishna Dulal Barua)

Oh Youth

Oh Youth

What are you doing on the footbridge

Nobody can afford to wait at Las Vegas

Nobody has any spare time to eye you

You are standing at the same spot

contrary to the common character of Las Vega

Against the stream

you’re plucking the strings of the guitar

The strings burst into a dance

you’re singing a song too

Who might be listening to you

You don’t know

if anyone is listening to you at all

Today while I was coming

across the valley of death

you were on my mind

Standing at the same spot

as you did yesterday

on the footbridge today also

have you played the guitar

have you sung a number

The light of the world denied you

You can shed light on earth

Keep shedding light today also

Oh Young star

(Translated by Nirendra Nath Thakuria)

The moon

A deer grazes at the heart of the moon

Very often the question arises

Who is a man

Who’s a woman

Whose is the domain

on the moon

Who aims the bow and arrow

to capture the deer’s mind

One group says

No man is on the moon

On the visible side of the moon

gleam the moonlit vulva

and the breast curves

The other group holds

The invisible side of the moon

is male-dominated

India and Pakistan

Woman and man

Between the bodies

of the two countries

lies the God-given

wall

(Translated from Assamese by Nirendra Nath Thakuria)

Day and Night

The world is a toy in the hands of a toy

The day itself is a toy, a toy of modern firearm

To make the world shake in fear, a toy held by the Sun

Perhaps the Sun also is a toy, Gods’ favorite toy

You and I argue, later we stop talking to each other

When I call God a toy, round like the Sun

It was as if your head would explode with anger

I was in a dilemma – if your head really exploded

Whether it would be Day or Night in my world

I could not understand anything

In order to end our argument at that point

And to make peace with you

I change myself along with the setting Sun

Then it was Night, your face bathed in brilliant moonlight

I turn ice cold on the other side of your face hidden from people

I feel like a toy

I keep thinking if I become a toy in your hands

Life will be successful

Since, the God of Day and Night is a toy,

The world is also nothing but a toy,

There is no soil anywhere on the world

Since soil itself is hard baked toy

If someone distraught with misery of this soil

Swells up like fresh flood and submerge the earth

How much water you would you be able bail out

Without access to the tools of Night and Day

(Tranlated from Assamese by Shah Ahmad Shah)

Malaise

I’ve spread so arid an atmosphere

that the tears of my wife have dried up

I’ve kept burning such a fire all the time

that the smile of my wife has burned up

I’ve created such a high pressure

that her blood circulation has got affected

I’ve fed her bitters after bitters

that she has gone off salt and sugar

I’ve set off blast after blast

My wife has lost her voice

In the ultra-modern microwave

I’ve so toasted my wife

that her mind and body

crumbles even at a rub

For crisp dollars of foreign trade

it is high time to exchange my wife

(Translated from Assamese by Nirendra Nath Thakuria)

Democracy of umbrellas

God hadn’t created rain

to wet the bras, panties and petticoats

of charming cheerful colourful beauties

Baser still or nobler still

maybe there is some other motive

Never nears the hard-hearted

only crushes the soft

If that be the sole duty of rain

the creator himself is sowing

the seeds of doubt

Perhaps on the strength of rain

God’s existence survives

Thus the curious are keen

to find the way out

through the mazes

In whose affairs has rain

played a spoilsport

Is it for the reason

lightning bolts fall upon the heads

Thus perhaps

the markets are on fire

from that fire God emerges

Clouds have been made after this emergence

Between the creases of white and purple hues

who plays hide-n-seek

why do forms rush into formlessness

Who’s moulding fire-horned arms

from bolts of lightning crushed to dust

Rebels and bourgeois scramble

to buy this infallibility

Thus God holds

an open fare of rain

With what intent

who holds open

over our heads

the democracy of umbrellas

(Translated from Assamese by Krishna Dulal Barua)

About the poet -

Anubhav Tulasi (1958) is a major voice in Assamese literature and a literary translator. His poetry collections include Naazmaa, Doron Phul, Jalamagna Drishyaavali, Kaabyapith, Nirgnaan Nepathya, Charaair Chakut Phular Bichanaa, Paanikaauri, Joi Jayatir Joi, Jui Chor , Jibanaandar Dehaantarar Drishya, Deo Cheleng, Dhekiapatiaar Pitree , Baraxunor Khetiyak, Matibhasha. His Poetry translations inlcude Anna Akhmaatovaar Kabita, Belisutaa Sonparuaa, Samparka, “Puraton Ei Binkhoni” and Najana Junuka.

He was awarded Munin Barkataki Literary Award in 1997, Senior Fellowship for literature by the Department of Culture, Govt. of India for 2000-2002, Excellence Award, 2010 (Austin, US); and Antorlipi Literary Award, 2015. He participated in several internationl literary meet including Jatiya Kabita Utsab, Dhaka, in 2001, 2011, 2014; SAARC Festival of Literature 2010,2017 held in New Delhi; Writers and Literary Translators International Congress, 2010, Istanbul, Turkey; International Authors Forum, Boston (U.S.A.) October 2010, Austin International Poetry Festival, Austin, Texas, USA(2013) and 8th Annual International Conference of Literature, Athens, Greece(2015).

About the translators -

Krishna Dulal Barua-

Krishna Dulal Barua, a teacher of English language and music, translates both fiction and non-fiction from Assamese to English. His published works include ‘Selected Poems of Nilmani Phookan’ and ‘The sword of Birgosri’ (novel) published by the Sahitya Akademi , ‘Select poems of Lakshminath Bezbaroa’ published by the National Book Trust of India etc.

Nirendra Nath Thakuria-

Nirendra Nath Thakuria is a translator, who translates Assamese literature into English. He was Associate Editor of Jaatra, Assam: Land and its people and Demcracy of Umbrellas. He is currently the Head of the Department of English, Pragjyotish College, Guwahati.

Shah Ahmad Shah -

Shah Ahmad Shah writes poetry in English and translates Assamese literature into English. He has translated several lyrics of legendary singer Dr. Bhupen Hazarika.

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