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Date of Publish: 2017-10-07

 

A few poems of Nilima Thakuria Haque

 

The Abortion

The bed does not speak

The bed of unspoken words

Pain congealed on the cold metal bed

Where dreams lie with broken faces.

 

She had climbed up

On steps of broken glass

From love towards loveless bed

Towards these gloved hands.

 

A foetus wails in sorrow

Slipping down the canal

The other cry climbs up

From the bowels below the navel

Clutching at her heart.

 

Who knows how

What has been shed today

Will snap away at her

All her life

The lonely way of a foetus.

 

Nor that anything can

Be said today at all

The gloved hands whisper close

Everything is in order

In order the unspeaking bed

The tidy grave of passion

Under society’s alarmed gaze.

 

The girl lies drowned

In blood scoured out of her uterus.

 

Translated by: Dr. Hiren Gohain

 

There were mistakes galore

 

There were mistakes galore

The woman drowns

Under stress of sanctimony

She’s no Rajanighanda though

For one slighted dream

Suffers the night’s body

Breaking through

The white garb of snow

The assertion of blood

Thorns prick, flowers bloom

The young widow’s breasts thaw

 

In the wings behind the whiteness

Preparations for an unburning Sati.

 

Translated by: Pradip Acharya

 

Hatching

The woman of earth in the throes of labour

The night’s deep voice

Clings, a dewdrop

To her whole body

The bed of earth is spattered with pain.

 

In the bronze moonlight

She peels herself off in layers

The pain in her graceful body

Lingers on the frame of her bones.

In solitude

Time falls off in clusters.

 

When the wind ails in the smell of rotten eggs

Her bones bloom into Rajanigandhas

The nest of night moans in the warmth of pain.

 

How enchanting is the raga in the depths of the night !

The sun’s seeds of hope fret in labour

The graceful sweep of light.

 

The scarlet ballad of the earth.

Translated by: Atreyee Gohain

 

Here the Plucking is over

 

Here the Plucking is over

The sigh of the wilting leaves are awake,

Guarding the bare stems

Of these stunted tea bushes.

And she sleeps in the dry basket

Amid the fallen leaves.. Naked Still.

 

 

She was quite like a cup of tawny red tea,

A simple, full-blooded young labour girl

Loathe to walk the distance

From the Jhumur fields to the chang- bungalow

That was her only crime.

 

Those hutments that kept falling asleep

To the wine and the drum beats

Had no inkling

Of the blood smeared on her pale lips.

Pierced and sundered, the tender leaves of her breast,

And, an unbearable aloneness.

 

Now she sleeps here, under the siris,

Her bluish lips

Colder than the icy table in the post-mortem hall.

The pale moonlight heavy with speechless anguish,

Here the plucking is over.

Translated by: Liza Das

 

THE WITCHES’ FOLIOS

 

(“Double, double toil and trouble

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” – Macbeth, William Shakespeare)

 

First Folio:

At the hour of dark

The black cat awakes, stretches herself,

And wails.

 

When the barn owl hoots from the Satiyan tree

On the enclosing ridge

She sits up, her hunger, too, rises

The overflowing hunger of the witch…

 

The session in the front-yard

And the backyard agony

Gnaw into the growing moon

 

Adages, proverbs are incorporeal

But leave substantial shadows around

Shadows the beads of his sweat

Shadows his chest where golden crops sprout

 

It shadows the yard

Swept and mopped with her sweat

Where the zephyr blows at will

 

The hut where moonlight cascades down

Invites the spite of edifices around

After a lingering drag at the hookah

Lets out billowing dark smoke

 

In the fuddled darkness

The headless trunks spy

Haughty capering will-o’-the-wisp

By the antique pond behind the hut

 

People or just whisperings?

Can’t make out anything in the dark

Just hooting like owls

‘Witch, witch…’

 

The guileless hut writhes in agony

In the cauldron of the moonless night

Simmers the darkness.

 

Second Folio

Lance, spear, yoke and ploughshare of darkness

The village folk are ploughing darkness

Making furrows in her body

 

Strange ways of familiar simple folk

Make the witch shin up the tall bamboo

As she forgets to wail

 

The startled scream of pain and slight

Dares not cross the narrow path

Through the surrounding woods

Yet, many a day, had she cut across

This very dreaded path

Disdaining the various ghosts and bats

Dangling from the tangled stems of darkness

 

Even the eddies in the river came forth

Appealed to by darkness

Bedazzled by her glowing body

She remained beyond reach

 

Eddies and whirlpools, you’d better know

It was she who had eased the pain

The straining heart of the old woman

Of the drying breasts

The lone light glowing the night long

By the ailing bed of village folk

 

All that is forgotten

For, in some eyes, even during the day

Darkness grows abundantly, in clusters

 

Touch her this time, whirlpool will you?

Wrap her round with water

And take her to the river instead

 

Third Folio:

It is on page three of newspapers

That would she trot

Her ‘spa’-friendly tresses streaming loose

Letting desire flow in torrents

While her garden of long nails

Hides the stale clots of blood

 

Her enticing cat walk

Makes the carpet grass sway

On a thousand young chests

But the mystery in the lips

Daubed in blood stays put

 

The star shines on page three

Taking the destitute child in her lap

Planting a kiss on the forehead.

Two beads of shining compassion

Glow in bold italics.

 

Behind tributes of ‘terrific’, ‘unprecedented’

The slender hands draw designs

On the back of the working children

The garden of nails sways

In the stifled helpless cries

 

Even in page three, life gallops

The overflowing hunger of the witch.

Translated by: Pradip Acharya

 

About the poet

Nilima Thakuria Haque (1961) is an artist and a leading poet in Assam. Her collection of poetry include Puharato Andharaoto (In The Light And In Darkness, 1999), Hridayar Chitrapat (Canvas Of Heart, 2001), Bhalpuwa, Bishad Aaru Dhulir Stabak (Verses On Love, Sadness And Dusts, 2005), Kiba Paharila Neki (Did You Forget Something, 2008), Surgeon Aaru Meghbor (The Surgeon And The Clouds, 2012 and Duporia Tu Ekhon Nodi Hol (The Noon Turns Into A River, 2017). A professional Gynaecologist, she has also written Doctoror Diary in 2003 and also published one novel, Jalarekha (Lines on Water, 2007).

She has attended National Workshops for Women Writers, Udaipur (2003) , SAARC Conference of Writers & Intellectuals Delhi(2007), North East Poetry Festival, Guwahati (2007), National Poets’ Meet, Sahitya Akademy Bokakhat ( 2007), National Poets’ Meet, Sahitya Akademy, Mumbai (2011), SAARC Conference of Writers and Intellectuals, Agra (2013), National Poets’ Meet, organized by Sahitya Akademy and Bodo Sahitya Sabha, Guwahati (2013), National Poets’ Meet, Sahitya Akademy, Vishakhapatnam(2014), National Poets’ Meet, Sahitya Akademy, Imphal (2016) and National Poets’ Meet, Sahitya Akademy, Vijaywada(2017).

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