Nepali Times
Poetry for a derainged time


The anguish he expresses in the poem below, written against the madness created by an authoritarian state, resonates perfectly today. Devkota's outburst is not just an expression of romantic over-sensitivity: it is a rebellion against a society out of kilter, where a shrewd, loquacious class keeps spinning webs to trap people and foil their bid to live freely.

Certainly, friend! I'm deranged!
Such is my state!
I see words, hear images, taste smells,
touch things that are slighter than the sky.
things whose existence no one admits to,
whose shape the world does not know
I see rocks as flowers
when by the river bank those slick, delicate, heavenly trick-
sters laugh
looking at me in the moonlight, unfolding in redolence, and
awakening, transforming, softening, swelling, shining, they
a kind of moon-bird's fruit like a mute mad flower!
I talk to them as they talk to me!
One language, friend! which isn't written, printed, spoken,
explained, told.
By the moonlit banks of the Ganges their tongues come in
waves, waves!

Certainly, friend! I'm deranged!
Such is my state!

You are shrewd and loquacious! Your (a+b) class a2 + ab + b2
goes on and on
But in my arithmetic
if one is detracted from one, what remains is one
You work with the five senses, I with the sixth
You have brains, my friend! I have heart!
You can't see a rose as anything but a rose
I find it to be Padmini and Helen
You are powerful prose, I am fluid verse
You freeze when I melt
You become limpid when I grow turbid-
and also the opposite!
Your world is solid, mine vaporous
Your world is thick, mine thin
You take a rock as an object, solid: hardness is your reality
I try to hold onto dreams just as you hold onto
those cold, luscious coins with engraved letters
I have the ardour of thorns, friend! You of gold and coins
I have the tempo of thorns, friend! You of gold and diamonds
You deem the hills dumb, I deem them loquacious
Certainly, friend! My one inebriation lags behind
Such is my state!

Everyone called me erratic when they saw me warming myself
on the white, primary heat of the stars in the cold winter months
They said a ghost had entered me when I stared blankly for
seven days
after returning from the cremation pyres
They said I'd gone mad when they saw me cry for forty days
seeing a spray of forty-five year-old frost on a strand of your hair
They called me insane when they saw me dance to the first
cuckoo of Spring
When suffocated by a soundless new moon
I leaped at the pain of extinguishing
and the idiots placed me in stocks
I had just started to sing with the typhoons one day
and the learned people delivered me to an asylum

One day I had stretched out flat, thinking I had died
A friend pinched me and said-
'Oh madman! Your flesh isn't dead yet'
I have called the Nawab's alcohol blood, and the whore a
I have called the king poor, and have scolded Alexander
I have criticised the saints
and placed individuals of no import on the seventh realm of
Your grand pundits are my idiots, your heaven my hell
Your gold is my iron
Friend! Your religious duty is my sin!
When you consider yourself intelligent I see you an imbecile
Your progress is my regression, friend!
Such turmoil in these bargains, friend!
Your cosmos is a child to me
Certainly, friend! I am moonstruck, utterly moonstruck!
This is my state!

I see the blind as the world's leaders! I see hermits in caves as
I see those who stand atop false platforms to be dark dancers
I see the unsuccessful as successful, the ascetic as unsuc-
I see progress as stagnation,
Will I be pushed around, or will I be a councillor
Friend! I'm a councillor!
See the whorish jig of shameless leadership's bland tongue!
See the break in the back of people's rights!
See today's cracked crystals, selling as diamonds!
When the black lies of sparrow-sized headlines
call my brave reason to battle with deceitful enigmas
then-my cheeks flush hard, my friend!
My cheeks flush as red as glowing coals!
When the meek people imbibe black poison
through both their ears, before my eyes, saying it is nectar-
friend! My every hair stands on end!
My each hair twists, harried like snakes in the sky
when I see a tiger about to eat a deer, friend!
And the terrible power of the sage's soul
tries to enter my corroded bones and speak
the day when a thunderbolt falls from heaven
when people do not consider people to be people
my jaws start to ache like mighty Bhimsen's jaws
and I turn the red balls of my enraged insane eyes
looking in a double as a bolt of flames upon
this human land of the inhuman-
My machine parts leap about
in uproar and agitation
My breath becomes a typhoon-
My face distorts
My brain lights up afire, friend!
like the fires submerged in the seas-
I become as mad as fires that consume entire forests
Insane, friend!
Like I might swallow the wide world raw!
Certainly, friend! I, stunning mythical moon-bird
hideous-soiled-soft-unkind bird
stealer of heaven's fire-
son of typhoons, an expression of mad volcanoes
a maniac of tremendous personality!
Certainly, friend! I am a deranged mind! Deranged!
This is my state!

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)