Σύγχρονη ινδική ποίηση

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Adil Jussawalla

Nine Poems on Arrival
Spiders infest the sky.
They are palms, you say,
hung in a web of light.
Gingerly, thinking of concealed
springs and traps, I step off the plane,
expect take-off on landing.
Garlands beheading the body
and everybody dressed in white.
Who are we ghosts of?
You. You. You.
Shaking hands. And you.
Cold hands. Cold feet. I thought
the sun would be lower here
to wash my neck in.
Contact. We talk a language of beads
along well-established wires.
The beads slide, they open, they
devour each other.
Some were important.
Is that one,
as deep and dead as the horizon?
Upset like water
I dive for my favourite tree
which is no longer there
though they've let its roots remain.
Dry clods of earth
tighten their tiny faces
in an effort to cry. Back
where I was born,
I may yet observe my own birth.
Question
You ask

Which virgin had left behind
The turmeric paste
On the bathing ghat,
Applying which on its body
The mustard flower
Looks so bright,

Answering which desperate
Farmer’s prayer
Has the sea has forgotten
Its mischief to create a flood?

Collecting the tears
Of which first widow
Of the world
Has the sky in disguise
Been telling mankind
That this is rain?

Kindly free me from such riddles,
Help me deviate
From my path
Of inner conflict
Of entangled words.

Until today
I have unable to fathom

How the new dhoti
Around one’s loins
Gets so rapidly frayed

How a wonderful
Bestiality enters
A closed fist.

Seeking answers
To these questions
Is like angling
In flood waters.

Maybe I know things.

I have been warned.
Even if a single broken word
Pops out of my mouth
Under the pretext of an answer
My tongue will be severed
And I will turn to stone.

Script
When did the ant develop a taste for the news?
Or did it always nurse it within?
Crawling along the newspaper spread
on the floor, it devours each letter
of news, first the big headlines of national mourning
later the medium-sized bride-burning bit
and those who slit each other's throats
for a dime, and then the small fonts
of suicide, missing persons etc . . .
Thus polishing off each item,
the ant has left.
The paper's blank now
like the pale cheeks of a pregnant woman
who died for want of blood
Roll it up now and see
the stars at the end of the tube
or place it to your ear and hear
somebody digging a trench somewhere faraway
Place it between your lips
and play the flute
or if you so wish, abandon it
in the bamboo forest nearby
Now the only fear is,
where is the ant
and where is the trail of blood at its feet?

 Keki
Daruwalla
Migrations

Migrations are always difficult:
ask any drought,
any plague;
ask the year 1947.
Ask the chronicles themselves:
if there had been no migrations
would there have been enough
history to munch on?

Going back in time is also tough.
Ask anyone back-trekking to Sargodha
or Jhelum or Mianwali and they’ll tell you.
New faces among old brick;
politeness, sentiment,
dripping from the lips of strangers.
This is still your house, Sir.

And if you meditate on time
that is no longer time
(the past is frozen, it is stone,
that which doesn’t move
and pulsate is not time)
if you meditate on that scrap of time,
the mood turns pensive
like the monsoons
gathering in the skies
but not breaking.

Mother used to ask, don’t you remember my mother?
You’d be in the kitchen all the time
and run with the fries she ladled out,
still sizzling on the plate.
Don’t you remember her at all?
Mother’s fallen face
would fall further
at my impassivity.
Now my dreams ask me
If I remember my mother
And I am not sure how I’ll handle that.
Migrating across years is also difficult.

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