Sunday, May 31, 2009

And framed against the stained glass door

And framed against the stained glass door,
with a slim cigarette between his fingers, was he;
his waist coat thin and his arms fair enough
to shame all the ladies of leisure. Everywhere
around him was the color of wealth and his nails
shone of the pleasures of waste. He stood less,
reclined more on the door frame covered with
the dark green vine, his hair seamless with the flush
of leaves, and camouflaged in the red flowers
were his eyes, and those who saw him then, died
because it was too much, and those who read
of him, winced, because they could never see.

Friday, May 22, 2009

You will give

You will give me a thousand love bites and a gift
for each favour I make but I will give you less;
you will give me tenderness, and a face flushed with
lust, and to repay that, I, with some awkwardness,
will give you less. For every touch, for every time
you look at me, as if before mating, my heart,
it will beat a little slower because I give less but
worse, I know it, for each time you flood me
with more, you betray what I give to you,
and it pales, it pales, my love, in comparison.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

And he witnessed the lords of his day

And he witnessed the lords of his day
pronounce many deaths. They said
activism is dead, love's been dead a while,
and they made all possibilities sound similar
which is the same as death really.
It was their job as choir boys of fuck-shittery,
that once their usual songs were done, to go and ring
the knell of something or the other, ding-dong,
they heard and smiled, ding-dong, and then
came back smugly to sing their fuck-shittery song.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

अज़ीज़ और सिरिल, घुड़सवार

और वह घोड़े पर उसकी तरफ़ तेजी से बढ़ा, 'फिर उसके बाद,'
उसने बोला, दूजे को आधा चूमते हुए, 'तुम और मैं दोस्त बनेंगे।'

'हम अभी क्यूं नहीं दोस्त बन सकते,' दुसरे ने कहा,
उसे प्यार से थामे हुए, 'यही तो मैं चाहता हूँ, यही तो तुम चाहते हो।'

पर घोड़े वह नहीं चाहते थे - भागने लगे अलग-धलग;
धरती वह नहीं चाहती थी, उनकी तरफ़ पत्थर ढ़केल दिए,
अकेले ही बढ़ना पड़े, न मन्दिर, न टंकी, न जेल,
महल, पंछी, न मुर्दा जानवर, न गेस्ट हाउस,
जो अब दिखाई पड़ने लगा था, जैसे ही वो जंगल से
बाहर निकले और सारा माऊ राज्य नीचे दीख पड़ा,
ये सब वह नहीं चाहते थे, अपनी हजारों आवाज़ों में सबने कहा,
'नहीं, अभी नहीं,' और आकाश बोल पड़ा, 'नहीं, यहाँ नहीं।'

Tr. from E. M. Forster's 'A Passage to India' (1924) , Penguin Publications, pg. 289.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How do you compare

How do you compare one lover with another?
Do you prepare a checklist of lovable things
and then count the scores of each?
Who would win -- he who closes his eyes
when he thinks, or the one who blinks;
he who is rude, incorrigibly rude, but must
win and keep the favour of those he meets,
his love for them taking a detour through
himself, or he, who sensing defeat,
would quieten at the right time, his words
sincere while they last but finishing too early;
his hair, they have a light whiff of lemon
if you come close to him in bed, but
the other, his hair fall on his forehead.

Monday, May 4, 2009


tr. from Hilda Doolittle's English poem 'Heat'  

ऐ हवा, चीर डालो इस गर्मी को,
इसको काट खोलो,
इसके चिथड़े-चिथड़े कर दो।

फल गिर नहीं सकता
इस घनी हवा के बीच --
फल गिर नहीं सकता इस गर्मी में
जो ऊपर ज़ोर लगाये और घिस दे
नाशपाती के सिरों को
और गोल कर दे अंगूर।

काट डालो गर्मी को --

अपने रस्ते के दोनों तरफ़
इसे ढकेलते हुए,
हल चला दो इसके बीचों-बीच।

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My Photograph 'अपनी तस्वीर' - Mangalesh Dabral

This is a picture where
a little courage can be traced
and poverty be seen, all wrapped up.
Taken in light, this photograph
hides its darkness behind it.

The calm of this face
is a mask for restlessness.
Any compassion is forever mixed with malice
and a little pride is soaked in much shame.
Although one's time to fight quietly passes one by,
there is a yearning in it to return from war
and these are the eyes
which tell you how love, on which all things rest,
is becoming less every minute.

In self-love and yet fooling around,
I get many pictures clicked
in a stupid sort of hope
that a better one might come by
one of these days.

translated from Hindi by Akhil Katyal, with a little help from Vebhuti Duggal, May 2009.