A poem from London

Venkat Raman Singh Shyam, artist and author of the autobiographical Finding My Way (2016), found himself at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London speaking on 21 June at a seminar on “Indigenous Media, Self-Determination and Cultural Activism”. This poem came to him then as he first typed out Hindi in Roman script on his phone and sent it to his friend and accomplice S. Anand, publisher at large at the small Navayana. Anand felt impelled to find the words in English just like he did when working with Venkat on his autobiography. Venkat’s work has been exhibited worldwide, including at Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art, at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, in 2013.

A sketch by Venkat Raman Singh Shyam

A poem from SOAS, London

While travelling I see the mirror
No picture appears
I erase everything
With utmost care
Nowhere will you see
A spot of nothing

They begin to appear
Hiding their nature
After all, who is it
That has a problem with truth

Pray remove it once
The façade on your face
Let the world see for once
What lay hidden always

The mirror may sometimes wonder
Is this the same one
Or is it I who have changed
I contain all the images of the world
What to say, whom to tell
No absent listener
Of my words that are no words

Consider this game of hiding the hidden:
I hid love in Mother
Father hid his pain
Somewhere tears
Sometimes hunger
And sometimes thirst remained
Sometimes I hid both
My class and my gods
Hiding and hidden I’ve found myself here


सोआस से एक कविता

सफ़र मे
देखता हूं आईना
तस्वीर नजर नही आती,
मिटा देता हूं
बडे़ करीने से
कहीं नजर ना आए
कोई दाग-धब्बा ।

हर कहीं नज़र
आ जाते हैं
छुपते छुपाते किरदार
आखिर वो हैं कौन
जिसे दिखाने की ज़हमत नहीं ।

कभी तो हटा लिया करो
सजावट का परदा
मुखडे़ से
दुनिया देख ले आखिर छुपाया कितना है तुमने ।

कभी आईना भी सोचता होगा
क्या यह वही है
क्या मैं बदल गया हूं
ज़माने भर के रूपाकार
समाये रखा हूं
कैसे कहूं किस से कहूं
ना सुनने वाला
ना ही लब्ज़ों में कोई अल्फ़ाज हैं ।

खेल देखो छुपने छुपाने का
माँ में प्रेम छुपाया
पिता ने दर्द छुपाया
कहीं आँसू
कहीं भूख
तो कहीं प्यास छुपायी

कहीं धन-धर्म
दोनों छुपाया
छुपते छुपाते
खुद को यहाँ पाया ।


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One Comment

  1. Nazir Ahmad Peerzada
    July 2, 2018

    Appearances are deceptive indeed .what we experience in terms of joy and sorrow is seldom exhibited. So one can never read all the sufferings of humans .This poem is describing the philosophy of life ..i enjoyed it

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