I   Back  I 

Nilim Kumar

Prostitute Moon

I cannot sleep
The prostitute moon
Is sitting in the sky

Opening the doors and windows of the cloud's cottage
The prostitute moon of the second night of the dark fortnight is sitting

None has gone near her
Lying in the pond
She has started unclothing herself

She is twisting her body
Like a snake

Smell in water
I am enamoured

Cannot sleep
Prostitute moon.

Translated by Pradip Khataniar

The Woman Who Loves Moonlight

If donít return home tonight
Will you worry too much
So if, let it be

I will not go home tonight.
You have probably not spared
A thought for me a long time
You have not found the time
If you pass this one night
Thinking worrying about me,
Let it be

We have lived together so many years
Slept and eaten together
And yet it seems to me
You have not quite seen me for a long time
If suddenly you discover tonight
That I have not returned home
Will you then wish terribly to see me ?
So if, let it be Ė

I will not go home tonight

Birds that lose their way
Sometimes cannot return to their nest
I will lose my way
Straight back from office
I will reach some other place
No, donít ever think that
I will go to fatherís house, I wonít
I will not visit my friends either
Donít worry I will not visit any house any road
Belonging to my past.
I will pass the whole evening after leaving office
Here and there
And when it will get dark
I will slowly climb up a hill

Last night I saw through the kitchen window
There was a clear moonlight outside
You were fast asleep as always
I looked on and on

Tossed and turned unable to leave the bed
Because Majoni was tugging at my breasts
Tonight I will get wet in that moonlight
Tonight I will get wet in moonlight
I will wet, wet and wet
I will converse with the shadows of trees
May be I wonít
I will ask the wind about something
May be I wonít

I will question myself about my own things
I will laugh and talk of myself
About too many wordless things
Moonlight will spread all over
My eyes, face, hair and clothes
I will bathe in moonlight
I will drink handfuls of moonlight

Moonlight will then course through my blood
Moonlight will trickle through my sweat
Moonlight will pass through my bones
I will wriggle in the bosom of moonlight
Throughout the night with moonlight
I will lie awake all night

Hungry ?
No, I donít feel it
Moonlight will turn my stomach silvery
But you must not go hungry
Promise me
It gives a burning inside your tummy
Everything is there in the fridge
Just warm it
Cook some rice in the cooker
Wash the bottle and give some milk to Majoni
Taste it on your lips, see that it is tepid
She wonít have milk if you donít add a lot of sugar in it
Do remember this
Of the several days and nights in our long life together
Wonít you do this much just for one night
I am not going to commit a sin
Or err
Wonít you do this much for me ?
And if nothing untoward happens tonight
If I donít fall into the hands of terrorists
If no one rapes me
If the police donít come looking for me
Then you will find me back home
Before the cockís crow
And if something should happen
Oh god forbid Ė

You will not find me
I will then jump into a well
And turning into smoke will scale the sky
I will be cloud
I will be cloud
To douse peopleís houses
Hills, trees, and fields
I will descend like a heavy shower of rain
And then you will see everyone will have a good crop

And holding a pail under the eaves
If you collect me to wash the clothes
(as I used to)
I will be then only going back to all of you
Back to you
Will you know me then ?
Tell me, will you !

Translated by : Rupanjali Baruah



His long, shy snout gleamed in the scraps-yard
startled, his trot through the back yard gleamed now and on
I raised him from the merely four footed
I was hooked on his humble tail
and his strange greenish howl
in the quiet of night


Inside the bamboo grove is this home
secure in a quiet hole
once I lit a straw torch and leaves
at the entrance to his hole and smoked him out
wailing he jumped straight into our net
the cruel knots of the net overflowed
with our joy and our fun.
It kept captive the dusky destiny of that fox


made a cage for him while he feigned dead
finally, he had a bite of the alien food!
soyabean for meat, the spotless white of rice,
a green vegetable brew, biscuits,
and the domesticated affection of milk.
Fat broke into his unbroken rest
and lodged under his hide.
He glowed and his reflexes slowed
and he was getting duller everyday.


Once I hitched him on to a clay cart
had his legs shod with brass
his mouth in an iron muzzle
and I saw tears stream down his eyes
in abject degradation
Yet he pulled the flesh of my body
and the joy of my fat
He wound his way to the dignity of labour
to the dignity of civilization
his round of life had drastically changed.


he was the lone mystery in the woods of my life.
I had seen him dig and take out
the milk white body of my kid sister
buried inside that grove
the sister that had filled my childhood
and from under the banana tree
he looked me straight in the eye
and I thought his teeth sank into my bosom
I felt strangely attracted to him since then


And on a primitive day
when the vulgar sun had bared its teeth
and caught the earth in myriad cobwebs
I found an ugly greed growing in me.
I had him out of the cage,
"I will cut your ears to make me a lamp"
the lullaby that mother put us to sleep with
I cut off his ears and then speared his heart
to stop all throbbing.
I skinned him, the brown hide that kept his flesh hidden
his last movement was there in his blood.


no zoology text recorded the taste of his meat
or even of his greenish howl
the taste got on to my head
the taste spiraling swirled
in the recesses of my head.
It soothed my direly hurt soul
and my body glowed in pristine wings.

... so much luxury, so much effort
and such a heinous murder
for this my late meal!

Translated by Pradip Acharya



My father caught him
In the betel-nut garden
And he rubbed his eyes and sobbed
Acting them out
Keeping time to our burst of shouting
And to the little swishes of our bamboo twigs.
We also became strong that day
With the vapour of Father's proud and swelling chest.
We bound him hand and foot
In the Saturday-market, that was the punishment fixed for him.
The whole of the mid-day he shines
In the bunches of ripe betel-nuts.


He is an ancient thief
In the creases of his rough skin
Sleeps the marks left by the beating of bamboo twigs.
He jumps about in the betel-nut leaves
Faster than the birds.
Pitchers for carrying water, small water pot
Choppers and axes and sometimes
The shining white dhoti of someone
Is also the marked out thing in the winkling of his eyes.
And what a charming scene
When the villagers chase him
He jumps and jumps over the bamboo gates
Drain after drain
With what abandon his dhoti flies
Tearing the green
How his sweaty muscles glistens and go out of sight
Raising a tide of mysterious joy in our mind and body
Thus he becomes our own
The whole village, all the householders
Trees and creepers are all cages
And search for his vigorous arrival in the dark.


And he laughs in the horizon
With his paleface lined like the face of a sage
and sticking out cheeks bones.
With his wild way of life
He becomes the most mysterious being
in my tiny green world.
And did he soak, did he soak me up also
With his primitive dance-posture?
For stealing from under my grand father's pillow
I brought him 'bidi's


My deserted homestead of my past
Is now devastated and of concrete.
Trees and shrubs of stone and brick
Breathe with leaves of glass panes
In this jungle of glass
Where is it lost, where is it lost
That mysterious ancient being of mine?
I want that he steals
From my dining table the iron apples
The bronze grapes, the fleshy chopper
And from the fridge the white could laughs.

Translated by Ajit Barua


Visualized by MetaNym