An Anthology of Contemporary Nepali Poetry

Krishna Prasai

My Village

"The sorcerer has still been figuring destiny
counting kernels of rice,
checking if something has gone wrong,
when the sun was on the rise, or fall.
Or, if some items lacked in the Gothdhup, last year!
Cocks had been offered to Sagune and Sime-bhume,
cash offers made too, to appease evil air,
and promises to deities fulfilled.
Budhibaju is our family deity, after all.
What a spell could it be, at such an age?
Sikari presses hard, if ever it attacks
the Banjhankri has always been sweeping
Dakini and Sakini away, with rice kernels
The Ghouls of the dead still haunt the village."
Such whispers are still rampant here.
I won't simply believe your claims, Sainla Dai!
That, development has reached the village -
a place, where time is still computed
with the sun's position above,
and where times are either propitious and evil,
a place, where some mantras have to be chanted
to effuse grains for good stars;
still, a cock has to crow
for my village to wake up!
		(Translated from Nepali by Mahesh Paudyal)

Gothdhup : a rite performed at the cowshed for the cattle's welfare
Sime-bhume : spirits, worshiped as deities by some Nepalese communities
Budhiboju : a female deity worshipped as community goddess by the Kirats in Nepal
Dakini : a femal evil spirit that needs occasional appeasement
Sagune : an evil spirit that casts spells if unappeased
Sikari : a forest deity, also casting spells if unappeased
Sakini : a femal evil spirit needs occasional appeasement
Banjhankri : a forest dwelling wizard

My Father in Reverie

Connived by a stranger some seven decades back
my father reportedly snaked into a foreign land to hunt for pelf;
He saw town before anyone in his village did
Sold from the hand of his own villager at a spot in GhumPahad
he set for Dehradun, Kashmir, Malaya and beyond
with a gun set in hand by a foreigner,
dropped his middle name 'Prasad' and adopted 'Bahadur'
and only then, he started comprehending what a foreign land was. 

With father's name, I am contemplating
the antique age of the hill
where, there was a path but no boot
there were things, but no strength
there were stacks of home-grown crops
fruits, vegetables and cereals grew prodigally
doomed to rot on ridges and farms before being fetched to the marketplace
or got cooked as cattle-porridge in a pig-iron caldron.
What to talk of the present time!
When the digital air intruded into the village
even the dung-pile is sold away in town via email
The village is upset, not even in talking-terms with Father
and has stopped caring for Father's olden ways- 
At times, it stares as though it would maul him
taking Father's thoughts as out of place.

Like a bugle, blown by war all of a sudden,
Facebook, Sype and Viber in succession
have claimed all the progenies of Father;
The new intruders have, within no time, extended their grips !
Enduring through all these recent inventions, 
Father brings back in reverie his own olden times.
Alas, that terrible Second World War,
Macabre Burma, deluged by a downpour of mortared cloud,
Airawati River, laced with human blood everywhere,
the charge of the Japanese soldiers in the dense forest,
innumerablecorpses from both the ends,
the ooze from falling friends, gathering into a pool,
the gruesome death-scene of a friend recruited same day as him
now dying writhing, pegged by a sharp lance,
the stale food-a share of the dead friend-and the stinking daal
retrieved from under the clotted blood for saving life,
the English beauty, who served him in Dhaka's MainaMotiHospital where he lay injured,
the promotion to the post of Subedar he earned for polishing shoes into shining black,
a different brass medal for slaying dozens of foes,
the tin-tank carried along on six-month leave to Hang-Pang, seven years later
the half-year time a thread-bound letter with death-news took to reach the village,
doomed to be torn by the martyr's own wife, as though it belonged to his second wife,
the black-and-white pictures with the white air-hostess in skirts
and fair like a freshly washed carrot !
Recalling every episode of the past, Father wakes up time and again
seeking himself in the transformed moments.
Wrinkling a forehead that bears scars of grenade and bullets, 
            like his backbone and shoulders
My father, 94 years old now, is reading
the fresh newspaper in his own language
out of the press just today. 
		(Translated from Nepali by Mahesh Poudyal)