By: Anpa Marndi
Requiem for the Death of Humanity
After asphyxiating all the facts, with chunks
of deceptive darkness, you’ve dabbed
everyone’s eyes with black kohl.
In the land of the bones—-the numb bodies
the unrebellious, innocent docile minds
are coffined in the water with secularism
in the Nile of the deepening silence
the love of the missing humans
dabbled in all sorts of callousness.
Sir, I’m awestruck at once at your stature
and suspicious of your being human
I’m shocked at your wretched kindness.
Because the happiest human is the cow
in your elusive god’s kingdom
and the most appalling animal is the human.
The Spider’s Web and the Chopped Thumb Finger
Teacher god, I’m an innocent and ignorant tribal boy
who doesn’t understand complexities;
I don’t understand totally how the spider weaves the web
which is its leg, hand and which is its finger?
I remember my chopped-up thumb finger, I look at my
palm, tears gush out from the eyes
teacher god, I’ve not yet understood the meaning of
Guru-Dakshina, it keeps hanging like the spider’s web
of the questions of darkness.
I’m in a dilemma, teacher god, in gratitude, in wishes
and devotion gifting the stuff in one’s own capacity
or the colourful name of taking away the coveted thing?
I haven’t discovered the reason for your snatching
my thumb finger I don’t know what was there in it
but it’s a black day for the blood that oozed from
the severed thumb finger, for the still time
the grave sky and the tearing earth.
Do you know the reason, teacher god?
My marangburu knows, my sinbanga knows and my
mother earth knows so much so there was deceit in
your demand and there was a spider weaving in your
consciousness as much as gratitude and purity
were there in chopping up my thumb finger for you.
Marangburu: God in the Santhali tribal language
Sinbanga: The sun
Guru-Dakshina: Repaying as a gift to one’s guru. This poem is based on the life story of Ekalabya from the Mahabharata, who was a tribal warrior and archer and had the potential to finish both the Kauravas and Pandavas, who the Brahmin teacher Dronacharya taught. But Ekalvya’s indirect teacher Dronacharya plotted a conspiracy and snatched the thumb of Ekalabya as guru Dakshina to restrain him from the war. It’s considered to be one of the great conspiracies by a Brahmin teacher in history to finish the strength of the tribal community.
Neither with the desire of nirvana nor moksha
no monastery for meditation or chanting
I searched for two feet of earth standing wherein
I’d have to say in the pride, this is my world.
Nothing much frankly, what I wanted was just
a fist full of rice for the stomach
to swath my shame, some ragged clothes
and to shelter, a reliable flattened bamboo shingle
to be identified as an alive human being.
But where is the earth here that I could
germinate dream as per my wish and
I could harvest the greenery in the boughs of life?
Had I understood that without my notice
the earth would have distributed inch by inch?
Where is the earth in my share? The surplus is
only the chest full of void in the chest of the sky.
No pain at all, I am a man and made of the earth
and going to merge into the earth.
Translated from Odia by Pitambar Naik
Anpa Marndi has an MA and M Phil from Utkal University. He got through the prestigious UGC-NET exam in 2006. He is a professor, teaching in the department of Odia Literature at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar. He has two books of poetry, Ranga Dekhi Sapa Chinnhe Samay Soren and Naamal in Santhali which went to win the Kendra Sahitya Akademy Puraskar in 2014. He was born in Mayurbhanj district and lives in Bhubaneswar, India.