An Anthology of Contemporary Nepali Poetry

Tulsi Diwasa

Story of a Sick Night

The refrigerated night is asleep
As iron under the cover of rust
The immanence of solid darkness
Is keeping a vigil all around
Sleep is banished from my eyes, 
Every moment with fractured spine
Is slipping away incessantly
As fried corn and soya-bean would leak
Through the tattered folds of a shirt. 


Damp fog is assailing eyelashes, 
Perhaps the gourd-life has to 
Hang from the dismal branches of Bakaina1 tree again!

This night is a cold rice
Served by a hen obsessed by child-mania
To sterility;
This night is a heap of rice
Gone cold on a Bhorla2 leaf
A festering wound
Itching to be scratched
With the sterility
Going round on its axix-the Sargasso Sea
Some water is sprinkled
Over the withering vegetables
The the head is plagued
Under the sapping strokes of the sun. 

A row of mice
A tide of sea
A turban of plague
An infection of pestilence.

Doing holy ablution in waters
Contaminated by washing leprosy,
Growing is the dark
Of the eighth night of the waning moon
Towards its own altar of self-sacrifice,
Towards the carter
Towards the morning:
The death of a patient
Vomiting blood all over the sky.

There stands a rudimentary rock
Burying layers of unidentified corpses
A pile of dead bodies, like a stack of straw
Cornered after the threshing ceremony of death:
Scattered are the corpses
Over gas-wagon, gas chamber
Threshing lawn and railway carriages. 
The condemned life has to craw willy-nilly
Like larva in this dreadful night-

I wonder: Won't life freeze too
Cloaked by ice and assailed by icy view
In this night
When time itself seems to be frozen
As a train upon its own gauge?
The head goes dizzy
As a lonely value wakes up into mind
Opening out the vista of time
Metamorphosed into layers of snow,
And a fun, a bleak rocklike one
Performing a death ritual with shaven head
Getting capped by snow one foot deep. 

Oh, waves after waves of sound
Are getting lost into the pool of great calm, 
Into nothingness;
Tender sounds
Are trying for a premature birth
Consolidating under the vulture clutch
Of hardened ice
Scratching and tearing one's own flesh
To reprimand one's own being
With the captivated stones
Acquiring a monkey's restlessness
Sleeping perhaps is an exasperation
Under the quilt of ice, 
Sleeping perhaps is an earthquake
Under the quilt of ice!

Earthquake and exasperation,
Exasperation and earthquake
A little suicide in the mini-sky of the garret, 
An occasion
When a black goat is lacerated
At the altar of the Blue Goddess
Massaging on its face
The red soil as if soaked in 
Blood and white earth,
Dasain!-an orgy of blood-our great festival!
Dasain!-a revelry of blood-our great occasion!
Dasain!-a ritual of resurrection-our great celebration!
In the pool of blood
Exasperation and earth's tremors. 

Perching on the rim
Of the hollow of a dense banyan tree
With enigmatic time's layers buried under it
Throwing a focus of its demonic eyes
Like a guard-topper's searchlight
Keeping guard around
A blackout concentration camp,
As the crane pecking at its victim the trout
As the sly sadhu-cat catching its devotee rats
Isn't the vulture waiting too
To hop over to the birds' featherless younglings?
Won't the rats' ally the cat
Ever again put on
A sadhu's modus Vivendi? 

Won't the trout's ally the crane
Wear a meditative appearance?
Won't the bird's ally the vulture
Reign as their protector?

Perhaps, Bishnu Sharma will have to tell stories
Like this again and again
The story of cats and rats,
The story of cranes and trouts,
The story of vultures and birds.

Such is perhaps the Panchatantra
A collection of fables
Such is perhaps the history of man
And man himself




		(Translated from Nepali by Abhi Subedi)
1 A tree from which a Nepalese martyr was hanged in 1940 by the autocratic Rana ruler.
2  A big leaf used for the magico-religious purposes.