Dream Poem: Mahesh Verma
Translated from Hindi by Sneha Desai
Nail clippers are vexed by people. They are hungry creatures, but you wouldn’t classify them as any particular species of bug or lizard. They grind their teeth from a malady of the stomach, and even when resolutely annoyed, cast hungry looks at the languor of your hands. When you drop one on the floor or go looking for Dettol and leave it unattended on the table, stop for a moment and you’ll see a devilish smile on its mouth blades. As soon as it notices you looking, it will make an innocent, inanimate face.
you’re the first poet of this language
you’re the first freedom fighter
you’re the first coward of this region
you’re the first graduate, the first pimp
the skepticism of the earth’s first sound
is even more ridiculous than the above sentences
since we are so in the middle of it all,
that we know nothing
about anything’s beginning
take this rotten onion
that was crushed by my sandal
we know nothing of the beginnings – of onions
this is neither a question of history nor of archeology
different from carbon-dating’s decimal figures
this may be the first word of the language of falsehood
beginning is a alluring word but meaningless
its metaphorical import leans in the direction of lies
Not from the expanse ahead of unending footsteps
but from behind in the process of going, always, I am seen.
In the sight of my back receding
do my ancestors’ appear, departing?
The tale of measuring three worlds in three footsteps
is kept somewhere, on the shelf of an old house.
Chosen from among the three available options of exile
my compulsion; now only I was left to hear
exile’s internalized humming.
If we do not speak of sunlight and partings
I look beautiful as I go, don’t I?
My wife was calling me towards a dream cinema
while standing in its door, which had grown up
from the floor of my study. The cinema was also the type
that grabs hold of dreams and of the construction of the houses
of other’s intentions when suddenly blood began to
flow over there and people very slowly began changing
into weapons, caught in flames in the process. In all of their
dreams it was as if there were dilemmas of truth and belief.
People began to wake up, us too, meaning me and my wife
when all of a sudden someone simplified what it means
to awaken – murder!
It was the very cinema hall seat, frayed in many places
of my childhood village or of my wife’s dream where we
were sitting, or of some dream of yours, Sir or Madam, that
I am writing down with the belief that when I wake up
I will awaken in yet another dream.
What You Said
and when my language was not able to carry away anyone
I wanted to write a lament in the language of parting and see!
it’s became a bridge made of rope
no sense of direction since I was a kid
if there’s no sun in the sky
when heading far away I often get frustrated
and turn back home, to be laughed at
where I’ll go, well you know about all my efforts
inside this haughty form there’s a helpless animal
being taken to the slaughterhouse
no greater than a fistful of dirt is
the expanse of my sky – you know it, don’t you?
what I call the moon and what I call the rain
before the earth laden with flowers, what is my tiny sorrow?