• Three poems

    Irom Sharmila

    February 17, 2020

    That cane of the policeman!
    Translated by Tayenjam Bijoykumar Singh

    Image Courtesy: npr

    O hooded rickshaw puller!
    how timid you are
    unable to bear the sun, you're resting awhile
    but I'm worried for the sake of you.
    in such a time at this very spot
    in the middle of minuthong!
    the instant i see you today
    the memory of a shocking incident returns
    listen carefully, it's the story of another like you
    he who had not learnt to blame his fate
    a courageous youth like you,
    in the fierce sun like today's
    on southern edge in the middle of this very
    bridge
    was resting on his rickshaw like his aged
    colleagues
    at that moment came a truckload of policemen
    from the east
    when the vehicle slowed down its speed
    one of the three constables sitting in front
    the one on the left rose
    and stuck out a cane
    and struck the rickshaw puller on his back
    Swiftly, once, twice and thrice
    oh, they were all grinning
    all those in the truck!
    with shame he lowered his head in pain
    in this world where might is right
    the youth whose life carried no meaning
    arching his back
    to endure the pain
    drove off across the bridge
    slowly towards the west
    pondering why i had come that way
    i came back with a heavy heart that day
    whose creation could have made it possible
    the policeman's cane i saw that day?

     

    This Night
    Translated by Chungkham Sheelaramani

    Image Courtesy: tinablogsalot

    This night, flanked by two millennia
    impassioned voices visit my ears
    o beloved goddess, time
    so anxious I, your child, am at
    the hour the last moments of the night
    make me so restive
    i can't but forget
    the world of the prison
    those whose eyes fill with tears
    when the birds flutter their wings
    whose who ask — why these legs
    which are meant for walking? those who declare
    the eyes meant to see are rendered worthless
    o prison! vanish from my sight!
    so cruel the strength of your chains is
    lives have been shattered;
    from you it is, that god is cursed,
    your presence makes us hate power
    had not you ever been born
    i would call the world
    the rendezvous of peace
    the shelter of the poor
    the immaculate waters where
    there's no inequality
    the shrine where
    the world worships time — the goddess

     

    Be brave, sister
    Translated  by Laifitngbam Debabrata Roy

    Image Courtesy: The Hindu

    Ah, enough
    stop this show of laughter
    when eyes brim tears
    forgive me i listen no more

    why blame fate endlessly
    prove your strength, sister
    is the world of the poor any different?
    stop hitching rides in their vehicles
    to bare more of meekness can only invite disrespect

    come
    walk across these fields to me
    come
    dream your destiny as birthright
    a high seat awaits you here
    to honour unrecognised strength
    inherited thro' your birthplace

    look, sister
    look around you
     trees heavy with fruit
    how tall they stand in the sun's searing heat
    rooted strong in the land of their birth

    we, like the trees, must
    from our roots take our hearts
    let's go tell our plaints
    this land unmoved that gives us succour
    never will we allow her dishonour

    the scorching sun
    daunt us not from our work
    the power of your sorrow-filled body
    can crush mountain and metropolis

     

    * Name of a bridge over the Turel (river) in the north of Imphal City, the capital of Manipur.


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