Translated from Meiteilon by Robin S Ngangom

For six months just head without body, six months just body without head, has anyone seen a land inhabited by these people?

No? I have; it’s not a folktale; I’ve not only seen but have been to that land.

For six months to talk and to eat is their job; like a millstone grinding. The following six months Bhima gorging and Shakuni suffering; for the headless body only shitting is its share. The head talks, eats, drinks; just talking, eating, drinking. While the body is working, laboring, shitting; work, labor, shit. To sweat, to be bone-weary. In the land of the half- body.

Do women live in that land? What does the species of women look like?

There are women; there are children. The same goes for women too, half-and-half body. They have long hair like the women of our land. They are big, tall, buxom, broad and well- proportioned. As for clothes, they hang them below the waist. The law of the land does not permit a body hidden by clothes. When the body dwells for six months it is springtime for them. (Since the bodies are headless when the men and the women meet, they are not fastidious). The head-only gives birth within six months. Besides talking and eating the mouths of the women also deliver babies. The women have more attributes than the men do. That is why the women have no teeth. God created them with ingenuity.

When the head walks, its two broad, fanlike ears, spread wide and it flies like a bird, beating its wings. When they speak, we can comprehend their language; they speak the language of men. But when the headless body speaks, a voice that no stranger can recognize emits from an orifice of the body. This voice is also accompanied by an odour.

A land such as this one is in the news; a land much talked about. The moon shines at night; the sun shines in the afternoon. There is no predicament of poverty; dearth of food and clothes is unknown. Some men even surpass Kuber. And the earnings of the body’s
sweat of six months, the six month-old head eats up with a vengeance.

There are political rights; a government is set up in the land. Democracy functions with total success. An election is held every five years. But for the people in this land there are no names. So for the nameless citizens the nameless representatives govern the land of the half-humans. Because whether to give human names to the head or to the body — no one can decide. A land such as this is very much in the news, a land much talked about.


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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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