By: Debendra Lal
I slashed the tongue
the two eyes started revolting.
I scooped the two eyes out
the two hands started revolting.
I cut off the two hands
the two legs started revolting.
Then I disfigured the two legs
the head with no eyes
and tongue started revolting.
At last, chopping up the
head and body to fragments
I buried them under a deep pit.
Then I saw after a few days
from the pit there thronged
thousands and thousands
of insects and they started
revolting with great ruckus.
I got it and spoke to myself
who can stop someone
who wants to revolt?
The wild will no longer be wild, but had they
been wild forever, it’d have been good.
The wild will gradually construe the difference
between the vowel and the consonant
they’ll also learn how to sum up the
arithmetic, they’ll study modern literature,
science, geography and will understand
where the profit and loss is along with
the reason why the sun rises and goes down.
The wild will no longer be wild: painful,
that’s my sorrow: like someone’s skeletal
body, empty stomach and a tear that doesn’t
ooze and the unexploded whoop of the heart.
Coming out of the jungle, the wild will
understand the civility and as time goes by,
in a few decades, they’ll be civilized and
regret for their nakedness, they’ll be dressed
in urban attire: jeans, blazer, suit, pants,
bras and panties, they’ll tune to the latest
cosmetics instead of clay and turmeric
doing away with kendu-leaves bidi,
they’ll switch over to smack and heroin.
And eventually, the wild will be civilized
leaving the deserted jungle they’ll fly
by the Boeing jet faster than the sound
facing towards the sky, they’ll go in search
of a new planet like the earth to recycle
another jungle to be wild at any cost.
Yes, yes we’re the untouchables, not born
but made, forced and perpetuated.
Our veins don’t circulate the red blood
but only the whole black sins.
Our bones are not bones, but the mouth-cleaning
sticks of some giants or demons.
Our skin is not the skin but the raw and
hateful clay of some brothels’ veranda.
Our shadows, the waters touched by us, utensils,
quilts and blankets, the beds all impure
they’re only lumps of shit, and an abomination.
But then, could you please tell — where have
you buried our young girl after rape and murder?
Translated from the Odia by Pitambar Naik
Debendra Lal is a lawyer by profession. He writes poetry in Odia. His work has appeared in numerous Odia journals and in Indian Literature, the journal of Kendra Sahitya Akademi. He’s two books of poetry, Andhakshara and Birodhavasa. He grew up in Kesinga in Odisha, India.
Pitambar Naik is an advertising copywriter for a living. When he’s not creating ideas for brands, he writes poetry. His work appears or is forthcoming in The McNeese Review, The Notre Dame Review, Packingtown Review, Ghost City Review, Rise Up Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Indian Quarterly and elsewhere. He’s the author of the poetry collection, The Anatomy of Solitude (Hawakal). He grew up in Odisha and lives in Bangalore, India.