Nepali Times
Literature
Manju Kanchuli


MANJUSHREE THAPA


Manju Kanchuli's poems offer rich and layered readings on men's power, exploitation, abuse, and their corollary-women's thwarted desire. Her work questions those who position women as prey, but she turns her eye equally to the psychology of the victimiser and to the psychology of the victimised. Kanchuli quotes readily from traditional texts and narratives, but her poems are never weighed down by obscure cultural allusions. Rather, a quiet but clear moral tenor rings through her verse, illuminating a complex expression of anger, outrage, empathy and compassion.

The following poem contains an allusion to Meera, the eternally unfulfilled devotee/lover waiting for the love of Krishna. Yet, it is also a personal expression of one woman's torment. The poem also contains a philosophical turn at the end, turning the unavailable man into a more universal agent of women's sorrow and suffering.

WHY DID YOU COME TO MEERA'S GLASS?
Had you not looked at her
she might never have blossomed
Had you not touched her
she might not have taken flight
When she flutters her wings now
while pecking at
the few rice grains you toss across the courtyard
I beg you, don't blame her
Were there no grains in the basket
the dove wouldn't enter the trap
Had you not looked at her
she might never have blossomed
Newton is right-
Were the soil to emanate no attraction
the apple wouldn't drop to the ground
Einstein too is right-
Were the constellations not to spread their hands
the planets and speed wouldn't spin on them
The pundits of logic are also right-
were there no fire
there would be no smoke
the settlement wouldn't be razed
nor would the horizon be ravaged
And if, before all this,
you hadn't stolen in
and lodged yourself in the pollen of the heart
she would not have perfumed in ecstasy
and the scent of her ecstasy
would not have crossed over the garden wall
Had you not looked at her
she might never have blossomed
You're to blame here, understand?
She'll bring you to this witness box
and stand you in it
Had you not come
she would never have come (suit counter suit)
And had you not been there
she would not be (male nature)
Had you not settled on the flower
she wouldn't have hatched the egg
Had you not been a slope
she wouldn't have ebbed and coursed liquid
Had you not intoxicated her with your opiate
she would not have stayed in stupor
Had you not looked at her
she might never have blossomed
They're all correct, understand?
Were the wind not to gust
the leaves wouldn't quake and tremble
Why did you come to Meera's glass?
This is her last remaining question
Meera wouldn't have sipped that potion
had you not come
Why did you come unseen
hidden by a piece of the dark?
Had you not stolen in
no one would have seen you
no one would have launched an inquisition
Had you not looked at her
she might never have blossomed
Had you not touched her
she might not have taken flight
Why did you manifest as
the poisoned arrow of sorrow
and pierce the heart of the prince?
Siddhartha would never have spent
a whole age otherwise
wearing a blindfold of tears
amid trees and monasteries
There would be no need to place
eight types of ointments
on the wounds of the one who removes arrows
while chanting nirvana, nirvana
No need to spend cold and burning nights
huddled beneath awnings and coverings
below the open sky
Why did you come
to Meera's glass?
She would not have sipped that potion
Had you not come-

"Why Did You Come to Meera's Glass?" is in Kanchuli's
poetry collection Mero Jeevan, Mero Jagat.


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


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