Nepali Times Asian Paints
Literature
Manjul with the masses

MANJUSHREE THAPA


The poet Manjul began his career as a committed communist worker, traveling from village to village with singer Raamesh, sounding out songs against Panchayat-era oppression and rallying the masses to revolution. Those who grew up in the eastern part of Nepal still speak of staying up all night along with the entire village, listening to the two singers in the rain or in biting cold weather.

Disenchanted with communist politics and aesthetics, Manjul was later to abandon all cultural work aimed at serving the political parties. For this, he bore the brunt of his comrades' ire. Yet Manjul persisted in defying the standard subjects and styles of progressive writing by exploring individual subjectivity in a metaphorical, abstract, and sometimes extravagantly surreal language. His Sajha prize-winning collection Mrityu Kabita bears much evidence of his break from communist poetics. And his collection Siddhicharaharu voices a demand for poetic freedom.

Having established his freedom as a poet, then, Manjul now seems set to return once again to the masses. One of his new projects is a collaboration with American photographer Susan Simone, a series of photographs and poems focusing on the material and emotional suffering of Nepal's economic underclass. Those who miss the old Manjul-the one who spoke of social ills and exploitation-will surely welcome this body of work, some of which features below.


I'M CRUSHING MY AGES
I'm crushing my ages
along with these stones
my days and nights
my wishes and dreams

I myself
am being crushed
along with these stones
day to day
moment to moment
time to time

At my own crushing
I'm becoming from a person, a stone
At my own blows
I'm shattering to countless pieces

I am violated
like the rocky shore
I give birth to gravel

There's nobody to speak of
Either there's soft earth like me
or places soiled by the shit and piss of animals


EVEN IF THE BUFFALOES DROWN
Even if the rest of the buffaloes drown
their horns won't drown

If the horns drown
everything will drown
There'll be nothing left that can't drown

My poem
will also drown

If it drowns
action will drown/fate will drown

Trees will drown from the earth
From trees,
flowers
From flowers, smells
From smells,
feelings

Water will drown from the river
The depths from the water
From the depths, the quality reflecting me will drown
the quality that washes hands will drown

There will be nothing left that cannot drown

If the horns drown
my poem will drown

WILL YOU STITCH BACK MY HEART AS WELL, TAILOR?
Will you stitch back my heart as well, tailor?
it seems to have ripped quite badly-

Maybe it'll hold for a few days yet?
Maybe it'll stay stitched for a few more days?

They say a flood came,
the river washed away
the few fields we had

They say the house succumbed to landslides,
the wife and children are living in the cow shed
in hunger

They say our son hasn't gotten to attend school
They say our daughter hasn't yet gotten married
They say my old woman keeps hacking and coughing
They say she wheezes asthmatically with every breath

Me, an old man
unable to put together the expenses to return home

Will you stitch back my heart as well, tailor?
it seems to have ripped quite badly-


COME, LET'S LIVE LIKE GRAVEL
Come, let's live like gravel

who have hordes
but no one of their own
who are split and shattered
squashed and trampled on by footsteps

who are transported back and forth
on trucks
at the will of others

who have no home
(or for whom the whole earth is home)
who have no bed, no fixed stove

Come, let's live like gravel

Let's not speak even when we're together
the language of our hearts
let's consider them adequate-
the sounds made when we knock against others

Come, let's live like gravel
not the greatest pariahs of this place!


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


ADVERTISEMENT









himalkhabar.com            

NEPALI TIMES IS A PUBLICATION OF HIMALMEDIA PRIVATE LIMITED | ABOUT US | ADVERTISE | SUBSCRIPTION | PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS OF USE | CONTACT