Nepali Times Asian Paints
Abhi Subedi


In recent weeks, lawyers, journalists, human rights and political activists, academics, writers and artists, and other members of the intelligentsia have been up in arms about the anti-democratic regulations drafted under the Public Security Act. These regulations hand authority to the Chief District Officer to detain or arrest anyone suspected of acting against the interest of Nepal's sovereignty, unity, or public peace and order. Any appeals must go through the Home Ministry. Effectively, this means that the Home Ministry can, on extra-judicial grounds, suppress free expression and the right to gather and associate freely. These draconian regulations amount to emergency measures without any declaration of a state of emergency.

At a play performed by the theatre group Aarohan at the Nepal Academy of Fine Arts on 22 June, Abhi Subedi became one of the first writers to publicly express his opposition to these new regulations through literature. The poem translated below mocks short-sighted attempts to silence that which can never be silenced: the riotous, unrestrained human utterance. It is a fine example of Nepali writers' ability to rally to save our threatened democracy.

I Will Speak

I will speak
My expression-
a ripple of power
moving swiftly with the light

No one has been able to stop me
I was offered up to the gale,
the gale became a ripple of my speech
Colours were daubed over my sky,
those hues arose as a conflagration
My mouth was forced shut,
each limb stood like a dance of destruction
My feet were bound,
pen in hand I left for a thousand years'
I was unconquerable

I will speak
My expression-
a ripple of power
moving swiftly with the light

At times when I say nothing
Don't assume I'm lost to silence
The speechlessness of the Bamiyan
was a bellow, a roar

We will awaken
We have awakened
at the call of the empty expression

The one who tries to stop this expression
disappears in the deluge of time
Only the one who speaks remains
Like a waterfall dropping words from
opened lips
splattering hues everywhere
over the sky of heart and time
in every street and courtyard
the one who speaks makes history and
with the insanity of a spilled-over sun

I will speak
My expression-
a ripple of power
moving swiftly with the light

Neither is expression halted by attempts to
halt it
Nor do hues stop colouring the picture that
have been sketched
Nor can anyone block expressions of love
Nor does gentle sunlight ever stop shining
on childish lisps

History is made by the one who speaks
Love is experienced by the one who raises
his heart to expression
Brightness is the sky of expression:
it breaks the ranks of the power blind
and of the cycle of time

A deluge of a thousand free eyes and
ebbs and courses through history

A martyr is one who places
the burden of speech upon
us and the sky

Expression is the name
of one who ascends brightness and
spreads through the sky
of all our undefeated liberation dreams

I will speak
My expression-
a ripple of power
moving swiftly with the light

Om Mani Padme Hum!

Abhi Sudedi is the head of the English Department at Tribhuvan University. He is the author of several books of poems, essays, and criticism, including the Nepali poetry collection Shabda and Chot, and the English poetry collection Chasing Dreams.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)