आज़ादी विशेषांक / Freedom Special

अंक 13 / Issue 13

Dream Poem: Mahesh Verma

Art: Samia Singh

Translated from Hindi by Sneha Desai

Nail Clippers

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,

we know

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

of rot

of sandals

of walking

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?

Dream Poem

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?

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