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Date of Publish: 2017-10-01

A few poems of Urkhao Gwra Brahma



Better not to speak


A small road going through the dense forest,

an old man walks back and forth every day,

he knows everything about this forest

but never tells to anybody because he thinks –

better not to speak than to speak.

Many battles had been fought in this forest

between original first settlers animals

and second settlers’ human beings,

none of them won or defeated

wholly in the battles.

Again there are battles between

next to next other settlers,

he has the all information about that

who had the weapons of what kind and

what had been done by whom in the battles.

But he always used to say that

in those battles how much losers lost

winners also lost that much ,

later by forgetting and forgiving

they shook their hands

and embraced each other.

Now the forest can be gauged

animals and birds not much found,

here now going on is battle of life

battle for food and livelihood,

no one has time to talk about

who is the first settlers and who is the next.

That old man carries weighty load on shoulder

bundles of fire woods in front and

up-and-coming child in back,

he goes and comes everyday through this road,

he knows many things but never tells

because he knows that -

so much will not be believed by anybody

as how much will be told.

( Translated from Bodo into English by the poet )

Old homestead

I was the firstborn of

this old homestead,

it came into being

by the sweats of my fore-fathers,

now I have nothing here

not even a piece of land to stand on.

When the mango tree started blossoming

Karlung came and gave me news of

another new homestead,

there the rain had already started falling

the Mango and Jack fruit already on trees

plenty of vegetables and fish-meat.

Since then the dream of Don Quixote

kept playing in my mind,

made me get onto a decrepit cart

with my darling Jengreng besides me,

following Karlung to the new land.

“...A beautiful home would be

built for my darling

there would be a barricade

around our home ,

a place with fruit garden bountiful,

a throne would be in the new home

where we would sit together,

plenty of food and meat

no end of rice and vegetables

where my darling would have all smiles –

pools of wine, meat like popcorn

and plenty of rice.......”

Oh ! how many times I’ve cleared lands

in the forest of Himalayan foothills,

how many dream houses

I’ve built for my darling it is countless,

but the moment mango tree starts blossoming

Karlung come after that and say-

“....get ready for another homestead

here the air and water getting polluted.....”

I’m again on the old bullock cart

with the new dream of Don Quixote

for building a dream house

a palace for my darling Jengreng,

the lustre of Jengreng’s silky hair is gone,

her eyes have gone sunken

the rickety cart trundles along

I’m also feeling tired now.

Much of the forest has got cleared

roads come into being

through the forest lands,

there are also now many after me

looking for same land,

they are growing by every passing day.

But I’ve failed to establish yet

a permanent home,

I’ve failed to gift my Jengreng

pieces of new Dokhnas,

but even Karlung sings yet

another new song,

“oh....what an inspiration,

what a colourful dream...”

Rolling on in the wheel of time

one day I found myself

standing at a crossroad and

I looked towards the distance

and saw a home, our old home,

barricaded with fencing all around

the home has grown strong

now I needed a consent for re-entry.

We moved around the estate

looking for an way in,

for a morsel of food and little water

we were now ready to offer

our feeble energy found

in our emasculated bodies

to the owner of this home.

But, the door of the house didn’t open,

no one came to see us there,

we are going to swoon very soon,

then they will carry us to a new piece of land

and that will be our eternal homestead.

( Translated from Bodo into English by Sickna John Wary )




Roses blossomed in front of

my house was kept for you,

I made it grow by the fluid of

my soul’s aspirations,

yes, a couple of red rose have blossomed.

I look forward to.....

one day you will come back here,

for I see the white pigeon

at the moment soaring into the sky

it’s wings flapping and beating the wind.

Tomorrow’s crimson sun in the morning

it will pat everyone’s shoulder with love

you’ll come back and erect the shining sword

and bow your head to mother and say:

“Dear Mom I’ve come back home”.

Then she would wipe her tears secretly

and would embrace you once

before all the people.

it would be better if you come earlier

because the battle you all fought

had started giving results,

but because of your absence

there were none to look after them.

Tomorrow someone’s spiked boots

may trample the new blossoms.

then you will have to wait

till the new blossom of flower.

then again your arrival will get delayed,

for we need flower to welcome you.

( Translated from Bodo into English by Sickna John Wary )




The pigeon flies from a Wizard’s handkerchief

it keeps flying inside the pavilion of show

it imagines itself flying into the blue sky,

the tent of the show roars with claps

look at the wizard’s pride and antics!

Oh.. slave pigeon! It doesn’t know

that there is another free sky outside,

the inside of the cage is its world.

When the audience clap hands

it gets perturbed and starts cooing,

uncertain whether threatened or applauded

in the twinkles of evening light

the bird probably thinks

it has seen the familiar faces every day.

The wizard has more pigeons of the same kind

they are put in separate cages,

they’ve got no chance to fly in free air

how can they know the taste of freedom?

Yet they don’t know to revolt for freedom

because they’re said as

messengers of peace all the time,

as if they have to shoulder the burden of peace

no matter how far the road of peace goes.

When the pigeon falls to the ground dead tired

the greedy cat will pounce and devour

and the wizard will blame

none other than bird calling it a traitor.

Yet the wizard will not lack a pigeon

as he has got many more in other cages

and one or another will go singing: coo..Coo...

( Translated from Bodo into English by Sickna John Wary )

Urkhaw Gwra Brahma


About the poet

Urkhaw Gwra Brahma, who led the Bodo Nationalist democratic movement in nineties decade, is a leading poet, storyteller and a writer. He writes in Bodo, Assamese and English languages. He was conferred the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award for his collection of poems in Bodo language “Udangnifrai Gidingfinnanwi” in 2014. He has published nine books so far, including a collection of his short-stories, three collection of his articles, two translated books and a Pictorial History about the statehood moevment spearheaded by the All Bodo Students' Union( ABSU). Brahma led the ABSU as its president from 1999 till 2001 and served as a member of Rajya Sabha from Assam from 2002 till 2008. Theree of these poems were recited in - Kabya Hotra - a National Poets Meet held in Goa in 2016.

About the translator :

Sickna John Wary is an Associate Professor, Kokrajhar Government College, Kokrajhar.




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