I WANT TO BE KILLED BY AN INDIAN BULLET

‘Bharatki Nongmei Maruda Shijage’ by Thangjam Ibopishak

(Trans. Robin S Ngangom)

I heard the news long ago that they were looking for me; in the morning, in the afternoon,
at night. My children told me; my wife told me.
One morning they entered my drawing room, the five of them. Fire, water, air,
earth, sky – are the names of these five. They can create men; also destroy men at whim.
They do whatever they fancy. The very avatar of might.
I asked them: “When will you kill me?”
The leader replied: “Now. We’ll kill you right now. Today is very auspicious. Say
your prayers. Have you bathed? Have you had your meal?”
“Why will you kill me? What is my crime? What evil deed have I done?” I asked
them again.
“Are you a poet who pens gobbledygook and drivel? Or do you consider yourself
a seer with oracular powers? Or are you a madman?” asked the leader.
“I know that I’m neither of the first two beings. I cannot tell you about the last
one. How can I myself tell whether I’m unhinged or not?”
The leader said: “You can be whatever you would like to be. We are not
concerned about this or that. We will kill you now. Our mission is to kill men.”
I ask: “In what manner will you kill me? Will you cut me with a knife? Will you
shoot me? Will you club me to death?”
“We will shoot you.”
“With which gun will you shoot me then? Made in India, or made in another
country?”
“Foreign made. All of them are made in Germany, made in Russia, or made in China.
We don’t use guns made in India. Let alone good guns, India cannot even make plastic
flowers. When asked to make plastic flowers India can only produce toothbrushes.”
I said: “That’s a good thing. Of what use are plastic flowers without any
fragrance?”
The leader said: “No one keeps toothbrushes in vases to do up a room. In life a
little embellishment has its part.”
“Whatever it may be, if you must shoot me please shoot me with a gun made in
India. I don’t want to die from a foreign bullet. You see, I love India very much.”
“That can never be. Your wish cannot be granted. Don’t ever mention Bharat to
us.”
Saying this, they left without killing me; as if they didn’t do anything at all. Being
fastidious about death I escaped with my life.

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Thangjam Ibopishak Written by:

Thangjam Ibopishak is among the leading Manipuri poets. Based in Imphal, he has published six volumes of poetry, three of which earned him some of the most prestigious awards in the state including the Manipur State Kala Akademi Award in 1986, the Jamini Sunder Guha Gold Medal in 1989, the First Jananeta Irabot Award in 1997 and the Ashangbam Minaketan Memorial Award in 2005. Ibopishak also won the Sahitya Akademi Award for poetry in 1997.

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