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The Door

I was a door.
The harder they beat me
The wider I opened
They walked in and saw
A great cosmic whirligig
When the grinding stops, the spinning begins
When the spinning stops, the sewing begins
Something or other, all day, non-stop.
And in the end my broom sweeps it all up
Sweeps up the stars in the sky
Mountains, trees, stones
All the shards and splinters of creation
Collects them in a basket
Stores them somewhere
deep inside
In some corner of the mind.

Translated by Ritu Menon


Knowing someone is like buying another mirror for yourself
and another set of earphones, good ones
which let you hear distinctly.

After all, what does the bhatkoinya berry say as parting words
to the stunned silence of the fields sold away
If you listen closely, you can even hear
the sad laughter of old prostitutes
like swabs of cotton from some unknown mythic epoch
entering your space
you can hear Rag Jaijavanti on the ektara
of an ancient madman in the oldest asylum in the world.
You can hear the whooping cough of the prisoner playing his chains
to the rhythm of ‘jhan-jhan-jhan’,
playing on the rhythm of crimes done/ undone.
and then, you can hear the double entendre
of all the established rules
and the soft thuds of languages almost dead
Each word difficult
but strong enough
to pull you into the fold of the mysterious naglok, the world of serpents.
Deep inside the waters
sunk within these waters
without a straw to hold onto
slowly, slowly turned into serpent jewels:

Knowing someone is a passionate leap
first outside your being
and then deep within it
It sends out ripples on the surface of the waters
over the pond for a long time.
Knowing someone is to become pond, river, ocean and rain.
Knowing is a departure
Clouds rain once
trees three times
after every rain, when you shake their branches
Knowing someone is like
gradually remembering
all things, forgotten,
sunk deep in memory

Knowing someone is
trembling leaves
catching raindrops.

Translated by Arlene Zide and Anamika


People are going away
each one from the other
People are going away
and the space around me is expanding.

I translate this ‘space’
not as ‘breathing space’
but ‘outer space’
because I sent my flying saucers out there.

Thank you, Time,
my watch has stopped
Thank you, Window
just behind the grille a sparrow
is ready to lay her eggs.

Whoever, wherever, thanks to all of you
This is the time you’re all within me
I, a little bit in each of you.

The harmonium of my empty house
whines its moaning silence.
This empty time
filled with work
This is the time when I must translate
dirty linen into the dialect of water
Then a little while, stand still and think
if a sinkful of soapy water
can be translated
into the melody of a raga
Frankly, this whole house
I’d like to translate
into some other language.
But where will I find this language
except in the words my children speak?
By the time I finish, it’s evening
I’ll translate this evening into drawing the curtains
the splinters of last light
will fill up all the space
I’ll translate those splinters
not into outer space
but into my
breathing space.

Translated by Arlene Zide and Anamika


Visualized by MetaNym