Five poems by Sameer Tanti, translated from Assamese by Dibyajyoti Sarma
SUN-PRAYERI’m a worshipper of the sun. Praying to the sun I awaken the people of the night, make them stand face-to-face with the sun — in the sun’s company, courage blooms inside their hearts. The soil falls in love with the courageous people. Carrying their seeds, the soil gives birth to crops and minerals. Every night, the elderly discuss how the hungry soul is happy in the love of the crops, how days are busy with work and how they store for the night, a happy, dreamless sleep. Every morning, in the chirping of the birds I hear verses of poetry from heaven, making every evening singular, musical. Time walks by through strains of music. I walk towards my prayer, in my heart the hearty wishes for my people. Making a wave, each word reverberates on my throat, depart with the wind; the flowers often remind me of this easy truth. Each child of the world now grows in the adoration of the soil. Each day of the world now grows in the adoration of the sun. ~~
STANDING IN THE DARKStanding in dark, standing courage, standing confidence, spreading roots on the soil, spreading shoulders from deep to deeper, soaking in salt, water or minerals. Standing in dark, standing courage. Unbarring desire, unbarring shame, I place my hand and inspired by the warmth of the blood, I slowly mingle, touching lips after lips, bellybutton after bellybutton, each other, men and women, in a country without culture, in an easy secret between men and women. Now breaking time’s uterus, I have brought forth enumerable naked words. Standing near, standing far, standing in dark, standing courage. Breaking sunlight, breaking water, I start walking, and wearing youth without fatigue, without fear, files after files, laws after laws, plans after plans, shaking each day and each night effortlessly in a hungry country. Now I announce an endless war against the communal rule. Standing in dark, standing courage. Standing confidence, standing on soil. ~~
PEOPLE ARE UNDRESSINGPeople are undressing. People are now coal-dark nights. I am a silent prayer searching for light in the night. People have started descending through a secret tunnel. From below a scream beckons them. People are now like carved sins. Scavenger birds cover up the sky. A nameless pain ascends upwards. In a cursed laughter, the moon begins to break down, the roads start to get slippery. I am a footstep on the slippery road. A country without faith. Faithless people run towards the forest. There is a wild scent in the air. Like the sharp tip of a spear a fear touches each hour. The men in power are undressing. The men in power are now man-eaters. The houses shed their skin. The houses are now ancient rock caves. I am a silent prayer searching for light in the night. ~~
GEARING UP FOR THE WARGearing up for war, I stay awake all night. Cultivating the dark ground, I plant the seed of light. Hearing the words of my labour, the river remains awake, remain awake the stars on the ashen sky to tell the people about my war. When the war started with the first alphabet of my name, there was no question for me to retreat; I too am the son of a warrior woman. Breaking sorrows every night, I make for every woman bouquets of flowers. Look, in my war poetry, how the ignored women come to life. ~~
COME, HUG MEI have crossed the forbidden zone of sin. I have crossed the large river of death. I have crossed the winter’s white doorway. I have crossed the border of illness, birth and time. I have crossed islands, continents and the shadow of pyramids. I have crossed the fear of a hundred thousand planets and galaxies. I have fought the war for justice and I have defeated everyone. Come, hug me and kiss my forehead. The roots which for thousand years grasped your heart, I have uprooted them and I stand before you. I am your rose-scented morning. Look, now how I grow amidst every ruin. Now I am dark green and cool flow. Come, hug me and kiss my forehead. ~~ A contemporary Assamese poet who works speak of the rhythm and the conflict inherent in life, SAMEER TANTI has contributed extensively to the Assamese literary world. His poems echo the voice of the common man, delving into the abstract through a vivid exploration of themes like nature, love and protest. He has published 14 collections of poems, two works of translation, three collections of essays and has edited two collections of short stories. DIBYAJYOTI SARMA has published three volumes of poetry and an academic book, besides numerous writing credits in edited volumes, journals and websites. He was born in Assam and now lives in Delhi.
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