In Translation | Sarveshwar Dayal Sexena | Akash Bharadwaj

by Van Gogh, from Wikimedia Commons

Unable to find work
taking her three hungry children along
Hanzuri jumped into a well.
The water was cold inside.

With the dead bodies of her children
she was taken out.
The cold wind blew outside.

Amidst accusations of murder and suicide
she stood in the court.
The walls of the courtroom were dead cold.

Locked in jail
Hanzuri had to fend for herself.
The cold sky stretched out to the prison.

Today when she’s out of jail
it’s clear
everything was not only cold-
it was rotten
it’s rotten
it’ll remain rotten
till when?

The man who stood last
When everyone spoke
He kept silent
When everyone walked
He would go behind
When everyone gorged themselves on food
He would play with a morsel
When everyone slept careless
He would stare at some void
But when the bullet was shot
He was the first person
To be shot dead.

Postmortem Report
 Shot with a bullet
one screamed-

Another said-

The third one sighed-

The postmortem report says
the first two
had their stomachs full.

(‘Aaloo’ refers to the potato in English. Along with vegetables it’s a very common item to be eaten with rice or chapati in the North and Eastern part of India.)

My joota
has come apart from places
the ground below pricks
I have stopped
I ask my joota-
“Why don’t you go ahead?”
It replies-
“I am still ready
If you are!”
I stay quiet
how do I say
even I have fallen apart
from places.

Entering the house
I took off my clothes
she calls it:
an intellectual’s veil.

On the dining table
few books lay open
I feared reading them.

She was not around
The door to her room
was locked from inside.

I didn’t have the courage
to enter the kitchen.

Spreading my legs
I sat on the sofa
staring at the fan
hung on the ceiling.

Suddenly my eyes veered
towards the table.
Tucked in the cassette recorder above it
a note said:
‘listen to this.’

I pressed the key
A noise came out.
I got nervous
when I heard
a voice-
This was her voice:

‘If you live
a coward’s life,
I will leave this house
and go somewhere very far.’

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