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It Was No Lie

Yes, it's true.
What you said was no lie ---
    "Every city in this country
     is a massive wound ---
     from a distance a red rose;
     go close and it is a bleeding wound."

The moment you shuddered to think
it could have been you ---
the man who broke his legs
or the one whose head got smashed
in a pool of blood in the middle of the road.

The lorry, like a lifeless convict, standing by
the driver, slave of speed behind the steering,
now behind the bars, I see him so often.
There is nothing false
in this everyday truth.

I think my heart has hardened
like these metalled roads ---
or else, tell me ---
how do you explain this ?

Stepping out of hotel each day
I see six-eight outstretched hands
and drooping, depressing faces,
but day in and day out I walk out of them
with head hung down like a convict.

In the sprawling holy temple spaces
in the shade of towering steeples
where Gods are captive and commerce thrives,
to every passerby ( sorry, every devotee )
the beggars turn their begging bowls.

This is a country where the rich landlords consider
cutting finger nails at night as portent of poverty.

When you go about questing for thrills ---
and I survive each day in these deep woods ---
when everyone is enslaved by money
and the poor, the beggars and the emaciated
are left with wolves in these forests ---
then you need to come up with the truth
once more.

Who would listen to us, here in this country,
where people raise walls of golden bricks
for gods and the tombs of kings ?

Translated by I. V. Subba Rao

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