We recite poems inside this hut
To each other like we were at Shamu Makhong
With hundreds of listeners.
We recite all kinds of poems; sonnets, haikus and ballads.
We write them, we memorize them, we sleep with them
Our themes are about deaths, evils, bats and sex.
We recite them with mouths packed with Raja Khaini
Thoiba addresses me as Comrade Akhu
But I don’t know why?
We haven’t even seen the Communist Manifesto
All we have read is Animal Farm
We have also witnessed Nandigram
But remembering my late grandfather,
He died of lung cancer,
Who recited the Communist Manifesto on his death bed
Makes me think I could have been a Marxist in my previous birth
Thoiba and I suffer, yes you too suffer
We often forget that you suffer too like in Africa
Our suffering makes me think
That I could have been a Bureaucrat too
In my previous birth who wore the widest neck tie
If I have to believe the old man’s saying,
“If you are unkind, dishonest and corrupt,
You will suffer in your next birth”
So in my previous birth was I Marxist Bureaucrat?
Or was I born in Cuba with the sickle printed cap?
Sometimes Thoiba asks me:
How would our Poems make them Sleepless?
I replied, “We are not Tagore
We are not Nazrul Islam
We are not even Dalits
Who are placed at the center of the Map
They symbolize the downtrodden
So the universities study their literature
We are not even women
Who paint with their vaginal blood.
You and I are just ‘private literature’
So they will sleep the best sleep of their lives
While you and I fight the nights
While we crawl under our bed
To stay away from the firing bullets.
Our poems are not meant to be published
But to be carved on our tomb stones.
That is again impossible
We are not Christian
We don’t erect tomb stone on our grave.
So let us forget about the poems
But let us not stop reciting and writing
Even if we are so hungry
Yes, we are indeed very hungry
Hungry for peace
Hungry for rice
Hungry for everything under the sun.
To satiate my hunger
I can even chew their bullets
They’ll be as good as Iron vitamins
To men like us, for sure.
Every night inside this hut
I scold them so badly, so abusively
That my tongue bleeds.
But I am scared to scold them in public
Outside this hut
Lives are very cheap as you know.
People get killed for articles they write in the newspapers
You may get killed too for the little Gandhian five rupees note
You own in your pocket or wallet.
Even the ‘Kargil War’ hero, Retired Gen. Ngamba
Died because of a fly buzzing in his ears.
Our lives are the cheapest thing on earth
It costs only a Rs. 35 bullet.
Our valley is no more like our old poems
Where the poets wrote
‘We are guarded by nine ranges of mountains.’
But now any chopper or plane
Can land on our shoulders
And snatch our own balls away from our bodies
They did exactly this somewhere
And sowed the balls in their fields
And a very good Indian history grew out of the balls
And today the students have to study it in school
The kids even mug it up
And eventually they will wear the neck tie
Sitting on the leather chair
And will command someday to hang us for our poems
But we can’t afford to lose our lives so fast
We have to continue writing poems
Till the last drop of our blood and breathe
Someday, I believe, we will be read.”