Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Poems for the Masses

Poems from the Masses includes contemporary Nepali poems by Bimal Nibha, Sulochana Manadhar Dhital, Sharwan Mukarung and Swapnil Smriti. The piece is part of Suendra Lawoti's photography project This Country is Yours. The 17:50 minute long piece was exhibited as a single channel projection at the Nepal Art Council in Kathmandu in May 2014. You can view the piece here. All the poems are translated by Prawin Adhikari.

- Bimal Nibha

These days, the words
all mean the same
For instance:
Bimal Nibha being filmed at Sarwanam Theatre
You may call the parliament a parliament
or a supermarket
You may call the People's Movement a revolution
or a betrayal
Call a person a person
or a worm
Call the constitution a constitution
or a joke
Call a merchant a merchant
or a blood-sucking parasite
Call an idea an idea
or ejaculation
Call a hero a hero
or a lackey
Call justice by its true name
or call it insults
Call the genteel folk civilized
or call them pimps
Call the flag a flag
or call it a mask
Call  Singhadurbar Singhadurbar
or a gambling den
Call the system a system
Or call it the jungle
Call the protectors your protectors
or call them criminals
Say that politics is politics
or call it a contract for transactions
Call the nation your nation
or call it an abattoir  
It will make no difference -
cleverness, mansion, principle
the people's hero, bicycle, mosquitoes
a majority, bribes, fodder
stone, curfew, flowers,
a champion, genealogy, night
gunpowder, license, Jai Nepal,
balance, flowerpot, song
heart, comrade, fire-engine
passport, humans, himals
party, crown, game
horse-trading, criticism, money
pretending, strength, socialism
America, granary, mistrust
history, diplomacy and quagmire
now hold no distinction –
I keep searching the pages
in the dictionary of democracy.
Words have lost their meanings. 

As I Cook
- Sulochana Manadhar Dhital

Am I cooking this meal
Sulochana Manandhar Dhital being filmed at Kalikasthan
Is it cooking me?
My life – stuck to the firewood
is it burning up
burning out?

To an Innocent Child
- Sulochana Manandhar Dhital

With her sounds like
aa...aa and moo...moo
which are not yet words –
like the shapelessness of water,
and with her guileless expressions –
I exchange a small measure of love
The bliss of heaven
is found in these!

Night – 2
- Sulochana Manadhar Dhital

Night is a pregnant mother
Wait if you don't believe that –
She will bear a new sun in the morning!

Night – 5
- Sulochana Manandhar Dhital

The night swells like tidal waves
It tries to overwhelm its limits 
I try to pull in the night, keep my command over it
But the night breaks through its limits
The night revolts!
Is morning its destination? 

Shrawan Mukarung being filmed at Sifal

Ram Bharos is Searching for His Face
- Shrawan Mukarung

On a day in the twenty-first century
standing before the plain mirror of democracy
Ram Bharos was suddenly devastated.

Where had Darwin's fourth face gone?
Where was the man from Earth?
In the long and deceitful journey through Time
somewhere, the face had fallen off.
Ram Bharos was devastated.
His twin eyes – afire with rage –
search the streets for his lost face.

Perhaps it is possible to find
in the distance between home and school
the lost hair-clip of a girl-child
studying in a primary school in the hills;
it is possible to find
at a rest-house, with the police, in a hospital
– or dead in a dark basement –
an elderly man lost in the vast city.  
In this remote countryside swallowed by frost-waves
where does one search for a face?
But, Ram Bharosh, agitated –
marches on – in search of his lost face.

In the valleys of the Madhesh
his many urgent steps
are melting under the intense heat of his sweat.
The fields and their soil where he has toiled
and his thick-clotted blood in the water –
the well of his tears –
make marshes from the still ponds of his struggles.
The hearts that flutter repeatedly in these trees
are his –
The endless spread of the horizon of dreams
and the expansive civilization  
are his –
But, no, nowhere is his lost face.
In this moist countryside, like in a cursed land
the golden ears of harvest-ready paddy
sway and swagger like a new Choudhary.
Mustard flowers in their ripe abundance
smile like new-minted zamindars.
Far, in the distance –
Who is that, going away in a bullock cart?
Who is it?
He searched, but, no – the face isn't there.
From sunup till sundown
only the bullock cart keeps rolling away, receding.

 A fine day in the twenty first century
standing before the plain mirror of democracy
Ram Bharosh was suddenly devastated.

Where did I drop my face?
A face can be lost in the struggle against malaria -
he is trying to enter the thick jungles of history.
A face can be lost while fighting against a flood –
he wants to interrogate the sources of
rivers and streams of the present.

While subserviently massaging the flesh
of the masters, the face can drop to their backs –
he needs to talk to the masters.
While he diligently polishes shoes
the face can fall to the people's feet –
he needs to talk to the people.
Standing before the plain mirror of democracy
Ram Bharosh is searching for his lost face.

They who have lived many lives as Kamaiyas
don't have their faces anymore!
They who have lived many lives as Kamalaris
don't have their faces anymore!
They who have lived many lives as Badinis
don't have their faces anymore!
What miracle is this?
Where have they disappeared –
the faces of my loved ones?
Ram Bharosh was astonished.

At the foothills of the Everest
are the footprints of his dense suffering.
Everywhere there are
haliyas, coolies,
everywhere there are
living metaphors for the anxious epochs
spent as serfs.
But his face is nowhere –
and, he searches still for that lost face.

A day in the twenty-first century
as he stood before the plain mirror of democracy
suddenly, reflected on the mirror
he saw a faceless million more –
a million other Ram Bharosh
And, Ram Bharosh burned with agitation!

He touched the colors of Phagu
but didn't find his face in any of the colors.
He drank in the colors of Maghi
but didn't find his face in any festive song.
Trampling over the pride
of the mountains that touched the skies
close by –
with his pair of eyes afire with rage
Ram Bharosh –
agitated before the plain mirror of democracy –
stood before me, and said –

'O, Poet!
I've discarded your favorite poet
I've broken your favorite poet's busts
Like a scarecrow
who propped up your poet before me?     
O, Poet!
The day when your poet was propped up
was the day when I lost my face
O, Poet! O, New Poet!!
Search for my lost pace in your poems
Search for it today! Search for it right now!
And I will keep your statue in my heart.'

A day in the twenty-first century
Ram Bharosh,
standing before the plain mirror of  democracy
suddenly became a man!
I, the new poet –
standing behind the plain mirror of democracy –
suddenly became a statue.  

- Shrawan Mukarung

After abandoning
the digging of fields
scouring of dishes, and
carrying of gravel
the people –
have thronged to the jatra.

 Leaving behind their
mosques, and
the people -
have thronged to the jatra.

Abandoning all of their
fond labours
the people have today
thronged to the jatra.
Why don't you join them, Bekhmaan?

politicians, journalists, lawyers
and teachers –
they have all come out.
You come out, too!

This is your jatra, your
festive procession.
It begins from your yard.
You bear the responsibility
of remembering your ancestors
and worrying for your progeny.
We are mere spectators:
the rabble at your jatra.
You must pull forward
this chariot of ideology
Drink chhyang before you pull it,
or, pull it without drinking chhyang,
but, you must pull this chariot
through every street, every alleyway.

From distant villages in the hills
from the bustees of the Terai
and from the steep slopes of the Himals
stuffed in buses
sleeping on bus-roofs
hanging from bus-doors
the people –
they've arrived to cheer at your jatra.
Why do you still not speak?
Why do you sit guard
outside the granary of heritage
and quietly smoke your hookah?
You must come out, too!

Listen, Bekhman –
You won't be subjected to any more deceptions.
This teeming crowd of people
has to come to you to ensure
that your skyward chariot of ideals 
 will never again topple.
In the twenty-first century
no tyrant shall be able
to cut off your nose and ears.

The sun has taken its ritual bath,
the flowers are blooming now,
the horizon is red.
We have bled in sacrifice to our beliefs.
The jatra has begun!
You come out, too! 

The Kabhra at the Story-telling Chautari
Swapnil Smriti being filmed in Ekantakuna
- Swapnil Smriti

Grandson – A long time ago 
here was a giant Kabhra tree.

(After resting his load of taro leaves
Grandma started weaving the yarns of her tale)

Three long, long ropes couldn't encircle it's trunk
No mad raging storm could shake it
Neither could floods or landslides take it with them:
that giant, that Kabhra tree –
It was the mainam of the village life, they say
It was the murumutsiling of the power of the settlements

At its crown, like a bridge suspended between sky and ground
the moon would rise;
Under its shadows the farmhands measured the days
When it shed its leaves, it was Udhauli
When it grew new leaves, it was Ubhauli
 They say – the ancient civilization of the locals
was all in the heart of that Kabhra tree!

Its branches spread in ten direction –
the biggest branch pointing to Phaktanglung Himal
the tangle of roots spread in seventeen directions
the thickest root turning towards Chotlung
Hand in hand, round and round, singing, Ha! Ha!
Matching step to lockstep, adorned in chyabrung,
– jumping, frolicking –
Greatest celebrations of love, under the Kabhra tree!
The tangle of that Kabhra's roots was fragrant with the scent of an ancient communism
And the tops of that Kabhra was the Shangri-La empire of singing cranes!

But, listen – Grandson!
In the Bikram Sambat year so and so – a long time ago –
And by a long time, I mean – a very, very long time ago –
Your grandfather's grandfather's grandfather saw in his dream
– Loom! Loom! Kadyāng! Kūdūngdūng... dūng... dūng... Haryākk! –
A nightmare – a thunderbolt splitting the Kabhra tree!
But, when he awoke, he saw in a fork on the tree
the three-leaf sapling of a Pīpal, springing from wild-cat turd...

(The breeze blows through the chautari – siririririri... ririri... riri... ri,
We – grandmother and grandson – are lost in the world of tales
Have I – as I listened to a story about a Kabhra tree – turned into one? 
What did happen thereafter, Grandma? Go on!)

Ask what all didn't happen!
The Pīpal bore its roots into the Kabhra
And to the Kabhra came a slow death 
The Pīpal grew bigger and bigger
Until one day –
the Kabhra became just a hollow heart and flaky bark  
Within it, the Pīpal stood with the uncontainable vitality of youth

But, even as the Pīpal trampled the Kabhra under it and danced in the breeze
the progeny of the old Kabhra mistook it for a new Kabhra
Listen, now – Once the old Kabhra fell, they say –
the heads of young men and women also fell
the children became lifeless, like well-stitched dolls
the Mūndhūm dharma of the wise old fell –
The hearts fell and the country fell
Misery alone found birth in the village
Hunger and thirst alone found new incarnations
Once the Pīpal trampled the Kabhra under it, they say –
they say that is when the culture of oppression and exploitation began
When the yellow leaves of the Pīpal spread wide
they say this round chautari was built under it
With a grand ritual-fire and human sacrifice
And with each morning, an offering of blood
That is when it all started – they say, Grandson –
the history of envy and grudge...
when in the Kabhra tree started the history of the Pīpal
hatred was born in the people
rage was born
war was born
... ... ...

(After taking a deep breath
Grandma let her tale rest for a bit!)

The story is longer than the Tamor river
It is time to feed the hogs – let's go home!

(It was my turn to carry the load.
Before me, leaning on her cane, Grandma continued his story.)

Grandson! On that chautari
so many despots out for conquest
have stopped to rest
They tied their horses to Pīpal roots
and whistled their deathly calls...
... ... ...
Grandson! On that round chautari
no matter how long we sit to rest
we remain just as tired! ...
... ... ...
Grandson! That is the very branch
from where your great-grandfather was hanged and lanced
That is the shiny rock where
– your great-grandmother, then with child –
was picked and thrashed, picked and thrashed
until her belly tore open ...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

प्रेस बिज्ञप्ति - नेपाल कला परिषद बबर महलमा यो देश तिम्रो हो फोटो प्रदशनी अर्रम्भ

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s[kof yk hfgsf/Lsfnflu mail@photocircle.com.np df Od]n ug'{xf]nf . 

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