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Indian Poetry


Vasdev Mohi

First I used axe
After some cries
At last he fell
Then I started peeling his skin
Agony made him shinier.

I took him to a mill
He must have been scared
As he reached there
He stumbled, fell and tumbled
I got hold of him, firmly
And pushed him beneath the big blade
Cleverly, I kept song of saw high
No one could hear
His heart rending cries
Thereafter, with a plane
I started trimming his obesity
(I had, long ago, become indifferent
to his painful complaining cries)
His inner, nervous system appeared with a glow
I gathered his limbs
Nailed them together
Covered their nakedness with a bed sheet
And slept on it.

I am a philanthropist
Look tree!
I have freed you
From the filth of birds
Who would build their nests on your shoulders
Would chirrup noisily to make your head whirl
I freed you from pester of squirrels
Who would take your body
As streets, lanes, alleys besides
I saved you from ants which
Gnawed and gnawed your body, your vitals.

My great obligation to you
Yes, great obligation
You had only one leg to stand
I have given you four.

Translated by Jayant Relwani and B.N.Panwar
I have understood You, Boss!
First Day in School

I have understood You, Boss!

Vasdev Mohi

Your jeep was very fast
My run a mere apology
But I did not rest-
Somewhere you will pitch your tent
I knew for certain

I will free my ‘poem’
From your bewitching silken snares
And go back.

I was mistaken-
Every dacoit is Valmiki
So I thought.

Switch on lights
I don’t want to see your drama of blood and gore
I don’t want to listen
To the tales of Mahabharata
‘It is sacred duty
To spill blood of
Your very own’
I don’t accept this.

You very well know the result
Of a fight between a peacock and python
Yet you bring both into the ring
And enjoy the sport
This is the apparent face of
Your hidden weakness
The entire staff of your court
Has started in killer trucks
To chase those
Who dared to look
In your eyes and speak to you
I understand your snap justice
Still my eyes
Do not look down.

I have a gambler’s nature
After every defeat
I increase the stakes
By very nature
Today I am in confrontation with you.

I have confidence in my self
You have confidence in your pistol
Once again we are in the ring
Peacock and python.

Translated by Jayant Relwani and B.N.Panwar
First Day in School


Vasdev Mohi

At last
Before our very eyes
Bulldozer swept away
Everyone’s home
Thatches, bricks, wood…all
Turned into earth

Utensils, things
Some tried to save
Many crushed as tin sheets
Breast beating of women
Men with wide eyes
Their forehead as ploughed field
Eyes gaze at things
Without blinking

I don’t hear anything
Churning inside
Raging fire
Legs wobbling
Nostrils expanding, contracting
Dry, completely dry mouth

Big judge also
Sided with landlord
And sent the bulldozer

Slum children are running
Behind the bulldozer
They keep screaming with glee
As they used to
While chasing the landlord’s car

Someone jerked my arm
Small Manu said
‘Mankoo uncle! Mankoo uncle!
Tell the driver of this big car
To give me a ride’

Translated from Sindhi by Mohan Gehani

--વાસુદેવ મોહી

છેવટે અમારી નજર હામે જ
ઝૂંપડાઓ માથે
બુલડોઝર ફરતું ગિયું
હંધાયના ઘર
છાપરી ઈંટ લાકડું માટી
થતું ગિયું
ઠામ વાસણ
થોડા બચાવી લીધાં
ઘણાં પતરૂં બનતા ગિયાં

બાઈઓની છાજીયા ફૂટ ફિટકાર
ભાયડાઓની આંખો ડોડા કપાળે ખેડેલ જમીન
જોઉંસું ટગર ટગર
હાંભળતો કૈં નથ
મનમાં ભઠ્ઠીની ભભક
જાંઘમાં ઝણઝણાટી સાથે
નસકોરાની ફડ ફડ
મોઢું ઠુંઠવાયેલ

મોટા જજે પણ
સેઠિયાનું ઉપરાણું લીધું
બુલડોઝર મોકલી આલ્યું

ઝૂંપડાના ટીણિયાઓ
બુલડોઝરની પાંહે પાંહે દોડેલ
ચીચિયારૂ પાડેસે
સેઠની મોટર પાંહે દોડતતા,મલકાતાતા

કોઈએ જોરથી
હાથને ઝાટકો માર્યો
નાનકડો મનુસે
'મણકુ કાકા, મણકુ કાકા
આ મોટી ગાડીવાળાને કોને
મને ચક્કર ખવડાવે'.

Translated by Jayant Relwani and B.N.Panwar
I have understood You, Boss!
First Day in School

First Day in School

Vasdev Mohi

Mangla did not sleep whole night
Washed Jitu’s shirt, shorts one more time
Folded them
Third time she checked school bag
Slate, pen, books
Put them into bag, kept it safe.

Got up before daybreak
Took bath, offered prayers
A little longer today
Shook Jitu, he did not get up
Shee shook him again, and again
Ultimately he got up.

Mangla carefully got him ready for school
Gazed at him, kept gazing at him
Strapped bag to his shoulders
Clutched his little finger
And came out of the hut
Gaiety of her heart
Reflected in her gait.

Jitu was going to school
For the first time
With extreme excitement
She told everyone on the way.

She reached school
It was desolate
Doors were closed
After a long wait
Peon teachers children came
She took Jitu to classroom
Jitu cried, cried bitterly
She requested teacher
Special care for Jitu

She came out of classroom
Her eyes were moist
She was happy sad too
She went for daily labour
Her hands worked, heart lay in the classroom.

In the afternoon
Before the bell
She paced outside school compound
Bell rang heart echoed peals
A wave of children gushed out
Jitu … Jitu … Jitu
YES, he is coming.

He is silent
She embraced him
‘Jitu my child
Did you learn
Did you eat
What did you learn?
Take out your slate
Show me how you write maa*


Translated from Sindhi by Mohan Gehani

પાઠશાળામાં પ્રથમ દિન
---વાસુદેવ મોહી

આખી રાત નીંદર ન કરી મંગળાયે
જીતુની નીકર સર્ટ
. બે વાર ધોયાં
ગડી વાળી
તણવાર,સ્લેટ પેન ને ચોપડિયો જોઈ
થેલો ગોઠવ્યો,ઉપાડ્યો
હંભાળીને મૂક્યો

પરોઢ પહેલાં ઊઠી ગઈ
નાઈને પૂજા કરી
. થોડો ટેમ વધારે
જીતુને ઢંઢોળ્યો
ઊઠતો જ નોતો
આખરે આંખો ચોળતો ઊઠ્યો
મંગળાયે ચીવટથી તેને તૈયાર કર્યો
ને જોયો જોતી રહી
ખભે થેલો મૂક્યો
આંગળી પકડી
ઝૂંપડીમાંથી નીકળી
મન માંહેનો નાચ
પગમાં સમાઈ ગિયો.
જીતુ પહેલીવાર પાઠશાળાએ જતોતો
મંગળાને જે મળતુંતું
લટકો કરીને
જણાવતી હતી
પાઠશાળાએ પહોંચી
સૂમસામ હતું બધું
દરવાજા બંધ હતા
બઉ વાર પસી
ચપરાસી શિક્ષકો બાળકો આવ્યાં
જીતુને વર્ગમાં બેહાડ્યો
જીતુ બઉ રડે બહુ રડે
માસ્તરાણીને વારે વારે ભલામણ કરી
વર્ગની બહાર આવી
આંખો આગળ ધૂંધળું હતું
ખુસ હતી દખી પણ

મજુરીએ ગઈ
પણ આંખો વર્ગમાં હતી
ઘંટ વાગે એ પહેલાં જ
પાઠશાળાની બહાર
આંટા ફેરા કરવા લાગી
ઘંટ વાગ્યો
હૈયે ઘંટડીઓ વાગી
બાળકોનું રેલું
જીતુ જીતુ જીતુ
હા, આવેસે
છાતી સંરસો ચાંપ્યો
જીતુ બેટા ! સીખી આયો
કંઈ ખાધું ! શું ભણ્યો
સલેટ કાઢ
'બા' લખી દેખાડ
કેમ લખાય સે .

Translated by Jayant Relwani and B.N.Panwar
I have understood You, Boss!