> Creative > Poem  
Date of Publish: 2017-08-12

A few poems of Ibohal Kshetrimayum

 

Aboki sham

(Grandma’s hair)

They say

Whenever grandma did let her hair

Blow in the wind

Villagers couldn’t see the sky

And hurriedly gathered cloths

From cloth lines

Sensing rain

 

As she walked through

Rice fields swaying

In jealous rustling

 

When she pinned to her hair

Chigonglei the village became yellow

And with kaboklei on her curls

All breathed white

 

But for reasons best know to him,

When grandpa demanded

She should bind her hair,

Grandma scissored away her hair,

Wept out a few tears

And left for the hills

With black clouds following her

Trumpeting like wild elephants

They say

(Chigonglei: a variety of acacia

Kaboklei: white aromatic flower often grown around ponds in Manipur)

 

Eedhougi khongthang

(Grandpa’s strides)

Decked up in white,

White pheijom and pumyad,

A folded lengyan neatly placed

Over his shoulder,

Bokul mohori, my grandpa,

Walked on the village lanes.

As if he owns the countryside –

Men grumbled stealthily.

But women of the village cautioned

Each other, softly, whispering –

Bokul is prowling.

And it was known,

They loved the silent fear and

The sudden urge they felt,

When their lips murmured his name.

He took bold steps,

His cheishu making

Rhythmic punctuations in between.

And it is also said,

0n muddy village paths, on which he had walked,

One often saw imprints of paws, big paws.

And in curious envy,

If a rival shadowed him on dark nights,

He would walk gently across a pond,

Would look back only when the drowning spy

Called out for help.

But I pity him,

When he walked with warbling strides,

On moonlit nights, to the end of his rice fields

Where hills knelt by swamps of fireflies

At the edge of the valley, and

Looking up to the black hills, he

Wept aloud –

Eemoinu! Eemoinu!

 

(Pheijom – dhoti in Manipuri

Pumyad – a kurta in Manipuri

Lengyan – a folded cloth hanged across the shoulder

Cheishu – walking stick in Manipuri

Eemoinu – believed to be goddess of Manipuri hearths, symbol of prosperity and wellbeing)

 

Aboki Pirang

(Grandma’s tears)

 

Through windy days,

On her lonely hill,

She had been taming

Cotton blooms in a kaptreng,

Making yarns in a tareng,

Weaving a khudei in her loom

On moon washed nights,

Singing a song as ancient as

A memory she couldn’t discard,

Pedalling in the rhythm of pangandem.

 

On the day a new spring came,

When a sudden jolt in her heart

Brought back forgotten touches,

She folded an old name

In the folds of the new cloth

She weaved aimlessly.

And she heard a cry.

Standing on a black stone

By a burn trickling down to the swamp below,

She took out a copper coin

From her shenkhao, threw it into the streamlet,

Kissed the khudei and let it go in the night air, and said –

Now I return to you, all that you’ve given me!

Took out another coin, scooped two teardrops with it,

Dug a hole on the soil, and buried it.

The tartan cloth flew till the foothill, and

Amidst twinkling fireflies by a swamp,

On a shadow, kneeling and weeping,

It landed like a question,

Aboki pirang!

 

(Kaptreng – a small hand tool with two grinding wooden cylinders, to flatten cotton blooms.

Tareng – charkha

Pangandem – handloom shuttle

Shenkhao- a pouch used in old days by women for carrying money, tied to the wrist)

Jingkynmaw

(Memory)

A full moon was hanging low

Above Nongkhyllem forest.

Standing amidst sun burnt trees wobbling in slivery breeze,

Listening to susurrus chirping of sleepy birds,

I was looking at the woods, blankly.

 

A brook was rolling down on slippery stones

By a path downhill, leading to a thatched shack

From which light from a hurricane lamp,

Dangling down from the eves was playing hide and seek

With an old oak tree, and in the echo of Wah Umtru

From the western end of the forest,

I heard a deer barking nearby.

And I saw a woman’s figure emerging from a sumac bush,

Nimbly walking down the path to the hut.

 

Her tresses flying waywardly like white flames,

In the moonshine, and I saw tied around her waist

Two bamboo jars gently swaying

As she moved down like a prowling beast.

 

Curious and nudged by her mesmerising suppleness,

I ran towards the shadowy fairy.

I could she her face, a face to remember with fear,

Red and burning but sultrily passionate.

As I followed her, I broke the silence and asked –

Who are you?

Jingkynmaw – she replied hollowly

What business you had in the woods? – I inquired

Gathering mushrooms – she answered

But I heard sounds of insects and frogs

Coming out of the bamboo tumblers she was carrying.

I followed her till the solitary hut,

Her home and when she entered the rugged gate,

I stopped.

In the feeble light of the lamp, I saw her turning back and

Gave me a smile that looked almost like a grin,

And as she crossed her threshold, I saw her heels,

Hind legs of a tigress, and I murmured “Jingkynmaw!”

 

(Nongkhyllem – a dense rainforest at Ri-Bhoi district of Khasi hills.

Wah Umtru – a river that flows through Nongkhyllem forest)

Rongdik

(Rice Pot)

The night I spent at Asigre,

In a cabin made of bamboo mats,

A ceiling fan was churning a baby storm,

And I heard a battlefield on a tempest outside.

A spring’s water was crying

Below the rocky hill, a bamboo cluster creaked

While a streak of lightening

Frightened a stridulating cricket.

And I was sad about the lamenting spring.

Picked up a flashlight,

Walked down the hill slope,

Found the feeble sprout of water,

And asked –

What ails you?

A naiad flew out, and said –

I am thirsty, let it rain.

She glided up in the air,

Sat on a bent bamboo tip,

Like a child playing a see saw, and

 

Her breasts pale and tiny like two ripe guavas,

Her eyes those of a parrot,

And she sobbed, her tears dropping like

Glow drops, some pink, some red and the rest

Like raindrops.

 

A rongdik came rolling down from the house

Of my host, a drunk school teacher,

Stopped between us, the water fairy and me.

I saw tears overflowing from it,

No rice no grain inside, only tears!

 

Aboki Pirang

(Grandma’s tears)

Through windy days,

On her lonely hill,

She had been taming

Cotton blooms in a kaptreng,

Making yarns in a tareng,

Weaving a khudei in her loom

On moon washed nights,

Singing a song as ancient as

A memory she couldn’t discard,

Pedalling in the rhythm of pangandem.

 

On the day a new spring came,

When a sudden jolt in her heart

Brought back forgotten touches,

She folded an old name

In the folds of the new cloth

She weaved aimlessly.

And she heard a cry.

Standing on a black stone

By a burn trickling down to the swamp below,

She took out a copper coin

From her shenkhao, threw it into the streamlet,

Kissed the khudei and let it go in the night air, and said –

Now I return to you, all that you’ve given me!

Took out another coin, scooped two teardrops with it,

Dug a hole on the soil, and buried it.

The tartan cloth flew till the foothill, and

Amidst twinkling fireflies by a swamp,

On a shadow, kneeling and weeping,

It landed like a question,

Aboki pirang!

 

(Kaptreng – a small hand tool with two grinding wooden cylinders, to flatten cotton blooms.

Tareng – charkha

Pangandem – handloom shuttle

Shenkhao- a pouch used in old days by women for carrying money, tied to the wrist)

 

Jingkynmaw

(Memory)

 

A full moon was hanging low

Above Nongkhyllem forest.

Standing amidst sun burnt trees wobbling in slivery breeze,

Listening to susurrus chirping of sleepy birds,

I was looking at the woods, blankly.

 

A brook was rolling down on slippery stones

By a path downhill, leading to a thatched shack

From which light from a hurricane lamp,

Dangling down from the eves was playing hide and seek

With an old oak tree, and in the echo of Wah Umtru

From the western end of the forest,

I heard a deer barking nearby.

And I saw a woman’s figure emerging from a sumac bush,

Nimbly walking down the path to the hut.

 

Her tresses flying waywardly like white flames,

In the moonshine, and I saw tied around her waist

Two bamboo jars gently swaying

As she moved down like a prowling beast.

 

Curious and nudged by her mesmerising suppleness,

I ran towards the shadowy fairy.

I could she her face, a face to remember with fear,

Red and burning but sultrily passionate.

As I followed her, I broke the silence and asked –

Who are you?

Jingkynmaw – she replied hollowly

What business you had in the woods? – I inquired

Gathering mushrooms – she answered

But I heard sounds of insects and frogs

Coming out of the bamboo tumblers she was carrying.

I followed her till the solitary hut,

Her home and when she entered the rugged gate,

I stopped.

In the feeble light of the lamp, I saw her turning back and

Gave me a smile that looked almost like a grin,

And as she crossed her threshold, I saw her heels,

Hind legs of a tigress, and I murmured “Jingkynmaw!”

 

(Nongkhyllem – a dense rainforest at Ri-Bhoi district of Khasi hills.

Wah Umtru – a river that flows through Nongkhyllem forest)

 

Rongdik

(Rice Pot)

The night I spent at Asigre,

In a cabin made of bamboo mats,

A ceiling fan was churning a baby storm,

And I heard a battlefield on a tempest outside.

A spring’s water was crying

Below the rocky hill, a bamboo cluster creaked

While a streak of lightening

Frightened a stridulating cricket.

And I was sad about the lamenting spring.

Picked up a flashlight,

Walked down the hill slope,

Found the feeble sprout of water,

And asked –

What ails you?

A naiad flew out, and said –

I am thirsty, let it rain.

She glided up in the air,

Sat on a bent bamboo tip,

Like a child playing a see saw, and

 

Her breasts pale and tiny like two ripe guavas,

Her eyes those of a parrot,

And she sobbed, her tears dropping like

Glow drops, some pink, some red and the rest

Like raindrops.

 

A rongdik came rolling down from the house

Of my host, a drunk school teacher,

Stopped between us, the water fairy and me.

I saw tears overflowing from it,

No rice no grain inside, only tears!

 

A shooting star drew a bright line across the sky,

A swarm of akin flew out of the pot, and

The spring angel smiled and said-

There will be rain soon. I will prosper, and the harvest also

She then dropped a glowing teardrop on my palms,

And vanished.

And I saw my woman in the glow drop,

Madly dancing in Himalayan rain, and

It rained and rained,

Seven days seven nights.

 

(Rongdik (Garo) – earthen rice pot

Akin(Garo) – termites with wings)

 

About the poet -

Ibohal Kshetrimayum was born at Imphal, Manipur. He worked as an engineer in State Sports Council, Meghalaya. His poems have been published in many journals including Indian Literature. His first poetry collection, It No Longer Rains Like Before was published in 2015. The poet believes in passiveness of a poet. Always waiting for his muse to wake him up in the world of poetry. He hopes, someday a poem will perch on him breaking his heart and that of the universe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment


No farewell to arms in peaceful Mizoram
Twisted- 14
Ripples of change…then and now
Mother and child health : Assam is lagging far behind the desired goals
A traditional boat race with autumn fervour
Saving the Ceniputhi- A success story
A bouquet of Assamese poems