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‘Dali, Hussain, or Odour of Dream, Colour of Wind by Thangjam Ibopishak Singh


My uncle from Wangu asked me:
How many bushels of paddy
Have you stored for this season?
I asked my friend Kesho again:
How many kgs of poems have you written for this month?

Write and then tear up, write and then tear up;
A cashier counts old one rupee notes
A rotten, mouldy bundle of notes
One thousand …
Seven hundred …
Only eleven …
Spending one hour two minutes and fifteen seconds.
Then after the final count, washing his hands clean with dettol
He eats up the notes, one by one.


True, the poet says:
Leaves do not move without a fleeting wind.
True, I also say:
Even if the wind blows or not, even if it rains or not,
Leaves never move
If there are no leaves
On the bare tree.


One knows man’s thoughts from his speech
As for the mind’s words of a tight-lipped man
One can read them from his eyes;
That is why to conceal my mind
I put on dark glasses;
Again, so that even the glasses cannot read
I keep my two eyes shut.
(Men who close their eyes can be seen inside a lockup
Or inside a sacred temple).

I’ve never seen fish flying in the sky
But I often saw ducks floating on water.
You say: you are wrong
I say: I am wrong
The Vedas say: ‘In Brahma
Lies zero.’
You also say and I too declare: What they call ‘you’
Is never me.


Which is more fragrant
The report of guns or the scent of flowers?
The sound of guns lies on the nose,
The odour of flowers on the tips of flowers.
Blind men see colours on voices.

A love letter
A horoscope of my grandfather
A radio which belongs to our mother
A pair of tweezers of my son
Ten bottles of rum flying in air
One brassiere which belongs to my grandmother
A pair of lingams
A bird carrying a bunch of keys in its beak
One whistle
Two butterflies
A cake of soap
A Shakespearean sonnet
A pair of clogs
Tied up by women’s hair. (What’s left?
Add some of your own).
An egg
Sinks slowly
Slowly, very slowly…
Piercing my sleeping teenage daughter’s
Hairless pate.
Then her two ears move lazily.


One day, wanting to own a peepal tree
I climbed atop a rich man’s tall building, and,
Entering his bathroom, looked for one.
(I like peepal trees very much;
I would like to see every citizen of Imphal
Walking with a small peepal tree
Growing on his head).

Then inside that bathroom
I found my wife leaning:
Half her body, waist above turning into a peepal
Waist below her body without clothes.
I was not surprised
I was not worried
I did not cry.
Girish Karnad,
My wife metamorphosed into your Chelluvi!
How can I claim now
That I like peepal trees?

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