Literary Yard

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‘The Unending Road’ and other poems

By: Parama Naik

The Unending Road

The feet suffer from sunburns, there’s an eruption
of the lava in the belly, it’s stretching out like
the radius of the sea after being swollen by the
melting glaciers caused by global warming
anytime the flesh, bone and blood would come out
none knows this land will witness, the void fear
of invisibility will turn into a valley of death
it’ll drag the bodies tying the feet in the rope
from the mountain top, from the road and from
the huts and you’d see the village with bodies
burning alive the baby in the arms screams,
and the fetus growing in the belly wriggles
too to come out; a water bottle in the hand
in the scorching sun which ensues grief.

She licks the sweat intermittently with the tongue
she says sweat from the head is quite salty
there’re crooked utensils and a bag of books
on the shoulder and on the head of the father
his back is just that of the dromedary of the desert
there’s no dream to live but there’s combat for living
where’s the strength to walk a foot ahead to kiss
the destiny? Yet, they feel there appears the native
but the road is never-ending and the canes
of the police thrash to turn their thighs reddish
here and there some spark chortles on the road
and take selfies in ached amusement and some frown
with disgust saying, how dirty it’s to do so in this
killing sun and sweating afternoon, stinking
with the odor of sweat, people keep their
distance from brotherhood, is it truly our India?

(This poem was written during the first phase of lockdown in the pandemic which really was a great tragedy for millions of the poor in India.)

You Might Say We’re Smelling

Making the body solid, living in the jungle
sucking the wild fruits, hunting the wild animals
eating the tubers and drinking from the brook
we learnt to live, in the tragic rain, in the
gruesome sun and in the blood-clotting cold
we cut the forest to grow life, we built up our world
fishing in the flooded water in our homeland
we know how to make use of an axe, we can draw
an arrow on the bow, we can use, the sickle against
useless species, but we’re never accustomed to trigger
the guns or the pistols; you blame, humiliate and
torture our genes, you pour your hot breathing
on the bodies of our daughters and daughters-in-law.

Oh, most honourable, you sent us to jail at last
how much sacrifice do we have to make to get
the prerogatives of health and education
to calculate the wage of our life with your kids?
Yes, you may say, we’re smelling with our heads
oiled with the caster oil, with our soiled,
dirty nails and defiled clothes, we can be apparently
different. However, we don’t know the classification
of castes and religions and who a traitor is.


Translated from the Odia by Pitambar Naik

Parama Naik earned his MA in Economics and B. Ed. from the Central University Koraput in Odisha. He is a lecturer at DAV Public School in Vishrampur in Chhatisgarh. His work in Odia has appeared in various journals in Odisha and has been aired by The All India Radio. Muthae Mati is his debut book of poetry. His awards include The Shabda Samman in 2018 and Gopabandhu Satyabadi Samman. He was born and brought up in Thuamul Rampur, Kalahandi, Odisha in 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.


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