“What Do I Do With These Corpses” : Two Poems by Rashmirekha Borah

Translated from Axomiya by Biswajit K. Bora.

(1)

What do I do with these corpses
half buried in front of me on the banks of the ancient river

Amidst murmurs of these corpses desperately yearning for redemption
what do I do

Our faith was not placed in rebirth or redemption

A tune that sings of disinterest even in salvation accompanied our birth

Our entire universe revolved after that
from life to afterlife from the frontyard to the backyard
round the Godhuli Gopal at the gateway and the fields of Aghon

What do I do now with all these corpses in front of my eyes

I know of a country where the dead are given new names and poems are written for them

To write poems for these corpses mauled by foxes and dogs on the banks of this river
two thousand and two nights now I need

Or two thousand and two mortals who write poetry

I do not know if the country would survive till those two thousand and two nights

I do not even know if those two thousand and two poets have survived till now or not

I was reading the new names of the dead folks with a Buddhist monk on a quiet evening in a crematorium in the country that writes poems for the dead

“The Carefree Old Lady”, “The Affectionate Old Fisherman” – the slates on two adjacent tombs looked at us and smiled

Intoxication of the cherry flowers and incessant tolls from a distant Zen temple filled the air that day

Somewhere perhaps the carefree old lady made two rice balls and a bowl of miso soup for the affectionate old fisherman to go fishing

The monk asked me what name I wished to be given after my death

I did not know what to answer

The cherry flowers fell like pulverised raindrops

And I thought how it would feel if someday you remembered me alone
mumbling my new name on such an evening

And I dearly wanted to die at that moment

Standing on the bank of this river now
I would need two thousand and two nights
to give new names to these corpses mauled by foxes and dogs

Two thousand and two painters to colour the shrouds
I do not know if the country would survive till those two thousand and two nights

I do not even know if those two thousand and two painters have survived till now or not

(2)

Saheb, you have blood on your hands—
of Hindus
of Muslims
of Christians
of Sikhs
of Buddhists
of Jains
of atheists
of Dalits
of Adivasis
of tribespeople
of peasants
of workers
of students
of poets
of singers
of artists
of writers
of revolutionaries
of women
of men
of epicenes
of children

Where will you wash the blood off your hands – there is no water but bodies of the dead float in the rivers

Saheb, you have curses on you—
of the dead
of the living
of the dying
of the poor
of the sick
of the starved
of the homeless
of the landless

Saheb, countless curses you have

Where will you wash off all those curses – there is no water but boats of corpses float in the rivers

Raiot

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Rashmirekha Borah Written by:

Rashmirekha Borah is a Guwahati based activist, author and poet.

One Comment

  1. Anjan Roy
    June 14, 2021
    Reply

    Very intense and moving

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