Translated from Kokborok (Roman script) to English by Saroj Chaudhury
I am now deep in silent sleep.
Like a child suckling, nestled at its mother’s breast,
Like a tired face buried deep in the beloved’s tresses.
Yet my thoughts, my anxieties haunt me even in slumber.
Now and here, like our blood and our indifference,
My sleep and myself run crimson through our hearts.
Our learned intelligentsia
Parrot the tutored words from within the party-cage,
In much of my words the tune of sleep echoes likewise.
As the coronet of power, pride and wealth
Fits well the ministerial heads,
My sleep sits on my head as a golden crown,
Making me a king.
I traverse the hilly track,
The roadside shrubs lean onto the path.
The extremists tread and run over them,
Proud boots of security men also tread over them.
The corpses are carried along this road.
This dead face seems known.
Kutungla’s wife had assuaged her hunger
With boiled weeds and a marsh frog. She died.
Watuirai passed away from enteritis or dysentery.
And again, they say,
Someone has died in an extremist shooting,
Somebody’s son has died in the crossfire.
He was a customer of our bank, rather garrulous,
Had married a few days back.
Whenever he met me on the road he would ask
At first I used to reply—
Then ignored the question.
Why should I tell him where I’m going?
And how far do I know my own destination?
Am I really going someplace?
Or simply flooding the road with the glow of my crown?
Only my sleep knows. Sleep is my life.
My father does not approve this sleep of mine.
My mother gets irritated, my wife gets angry.
Yet there are some, who join the festivals in earnest,
Casting a furtive look at my sleep and me.
They earn money at cockfights,
Sit by the stars and laugh out loud.
Here, slumber lies on my breast, caresses, kisses,
With face flushed in ecstasy.
- 100: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97 & 98: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones