Nepali Times Asian Paints
Literature
Govinda Bratrman-Poem For Peace


MANJUSHREE THAPA


The poem below was written during the darkest hours of the emergency, and in it he speaks as finely as any Nepali poet has done on the pain and destruction wrought by the insurgency and counterinsurgency.

DISPLACEMENT
Melancholy marches like policemen
Peals of silence resonate in
the obscene remoteness Words take ill
Letters nod off on sheets of paper
The snow-peaks, mountains and valleys
mind over the harvests of the dead

Days are lost unheeded
The evening lamps slowly burn out
There are no newborn babies' cries anywhere
nor their mothers' voices A cold wind blows
Tree branches and branch leaves tremble in the dark
There is no rustle of squirrels
The cats sit with eyes aglow
There is a fluttering of bats but no cocks' crows
Moments pass There is no sign of light

Progressively the jails widen
Their walls grow tall
Prisoners cackle in their sleep
The guards are busy issuing warnings
Fleeing from the feathers of pheasants
colors take refuge in history
No painter sweeps a brush through this drab world
The face of time glimmers on the canvas
It has eyes and the nightmares of millions
Not water but fire rages in the river
The color of snow has blackened
as of the souls of the constitution and law

As though all this were not of earth but of heaven
as though water were melting
and mountains solidifying
as though by killing the poor
the country could all at once become rich
as though the ruins of the future
were scattered over the lap of the present time
like an unconvincing fairytale that
grandfather used to tell long ago
sitting on the side of a courtyard
or like the dreams of a madman
the displacement of hearts from people
the displacement of touch from awareness
the displacement of screams from suffering
the displacement of the waking state from the waking state

How elaborate a thing is this? How unkind?
Over and over the questions come
Over and over the answers run away

As preparations for the peace talks get underway, Bartaman's poem can remind us to remember what is at stake for us personally and collectively, should Nepali society have to return to the nightmare of the past year.


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


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