Thursday, July 12, 2012

The morning mist of Langol

I want for you to
 Inherit a little of my smile
The color of my skin
The rest you find your own
 Sift through centuries past
 Of eye color and hair texture
 Choose your pick
I want you to inherit
 The books of my childhood
 Scattered poems of yesteryears
 Of my time, of my life
Those lines I wrote to myself,
 Those unfinished stories
 Because life, in default, remains unfinished
Until you are no more.
I want you to inherit
My humour, my curiosity
Not my failed loves, not my notoriety
 Nor my obscurity of later years.
 I want you inherit the hills
The rain, the evening sky,
The morning mist of Langol,
The morning mist of Langol.

Claiming Myself

Someone told me I write well
But when I write about the things I know
 And that is mainly Manipuri in character
 Whole lives are lost
 Lost in translation.
 English was never suited for the tongue
Of people struggling with life
Amidst bullets and floods
Obscure, forgotten people speak
Their own obscure, forgotten language.
 For how can you translate warouba ;
The kind you feel when the person
 You gave your whole life to
Forsakes you to please people
 He once claimed didn't like him much?
Can you say pendaba is a sub-part of warouba;
The kind when your nights are wet with hot tears,
Visited by convulsions of sickness,
A life which has spiraled out of control?
What in English is called the leihou
 Barring from some ugly scientific name?
Nongjabis drive away the rain,
They paint the sky red, merry orange.
All I have with me are words now,
 Words of a language I neglected so long
 Which I am now tasting, swallowing,
 Slowly claiming myself.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Politically Born You Are

Politically born you are
 Your head is counted
 Twice over, maybe thrice
There is fear that we are
 Declining in numbers
There is fear of being swarmed
 Over by foreigners
You, my child
 Even as you learn to speak your first word
There are tensions soaring
On your chakumba numit,
Unknown assailants
 Murders two non-manipuris
In broad daylight at the bazaar.
 You, when you took your first walk
 From me to your father,
 There was the demand to secede the hills of Manipur.
Your bedtime stories are of good girls
 Who win over giants by their sheer kindness
Maybe I should tell you of the Manipuri lores
Of hingchabis, of baneshees,
 The ones my Imabok told me.
 Because good is scarcely found,
I want to arm you with courage,
And maybe some words,
 Incase you do find 
Those giants who might listen to you.
In the right they fight over boundaries,
 In the left over love
In my country,
 They fight over Gods,
 Over some young people who ran away 
To get married for love.
 Love is a crime in places,
 You have to pay for it
 With your life.
In my own house,
 Some fight over unmarried daughters
Some over why last night's food
 Wasn't thrown away and left to rot.
 Over misplaced badges of my father's
 Ima says she saw it a few days ago.
Grandmother says you shouldn't laugh
 On your own wedding,
 It's unbecoming of a young woman
But her own daughter giggled
Throwing flowers over the groom's koiyet
I sometimes cry when I read poetry
 Or read about Aung San Suu Kyi
 News flash that Ratko Mladic is on trial at the Hague
He ordered the Srebrenica Massacre
 It seems personal somehow
 I lived in Bosnia during the aftermath.
 I tremble a little with anger.
There are dreams of beaches,
 Of French towns on Indian shores.
You come to me now
In your blue jeans and white shirt
 You tell me your secrets
You whisper your life,
 Things lost, people found.
I search for you in crowds
 Searched for you in six lives
 Found you in the seventh.
I want you to know
 That I love watching you
 In the kitchen
 That I love it when you swing me 
 And sing me to sleep,
 When you pop a whole bunch
 of gems into your mouth
 Like a greedy child
 I found you, found you 
 In your blue jeans and white shirt.
I want you to know that
 It is worth six lives of search.

Friday, July 6, 2012

On writing a story

I start off with a girl.of sixteen
 Halfway through I realize
Her frivolity, her extremity
I am not pleased with her lines
 Her clothes are too perfect
In stories, clothes are badly worn
Perfect clothes belong in runaways
 In stories, fashion disasters are the norm.
Then there is the issue of the mother,
The father, How Do I deal with the parents?
 Too kind, too rigid, too affectionate, too strict?
The conversations flow,
It's the only thing which has dragged on
 While the rest have become sluggish,
 And then finally left to lie cold in the snow
 But there is no snow where the story is set
 Only rains and mud strewn roads.
There is a beautiful woman,
Like in all stories, we must have one too,
Caged in an unhappy marriage,
 There is the husband who is cold and grim.
 There are books and poetry,
 Garcia Marquez, Orhan Pamuk,
And there are weddings on the cards
 But you goes one way and then
When I wake up the next morning
 Quite another way.
Who must suffer, who must laugh?
 Someone has to die, surely
 But which one?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Scaling a nearby hill

Everyday I suppose some persons come
Charging up this hill
 Like I am doing today
Why I chose today 
I don't know.
 Maybe there was nothing else to do
No company to keep
 But then again I never have company
No friends to drag me to car drives
 To some land far away
Nor to the waterfalls of Leimaram
Soaked in wine, soaked in carelessness.
Here, when I reach the summit,
 I tell myself it is some ancient place,
 Place of the Meitei Gods
 And I must tread carefully
 Or I might awaken them
 From their long slumber
 And test their patience.
 My mother told me
 There are waters where
 You don't see your reflection.
That there is a boulder under which
Someone was buried.
 A demon? A temptress?
I see the glittering lights of the city below,
 Where it has its own demons unleashed.