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The translator, with the poet
Remembrance
Seven Poems
'A human being shouldn’t become so spotless/ One should leave a few stains on one’s shirt / One should carry on oneself a little bit of sin'
COMMENTS PRINT
From The Archives
Namdeo Dhasal (1949-2014) was not important just because he happened to be Dalit, or because he was a Marathi poet. He was, arguably, one of the major world poets of the Twentieth century.
Dilip Chitre

From Dilip Chitre's translations of Namdeo Dhasal's poems published by Navayana: Namdeo Dhasal—Poet of the Underworld, Poems 1972-2006. A new edition of this book is available at Navayana: A current of Blood

From Golpitha, 1972
Man, You Should Explode

Man, you should explode
Yourself to bits to start with
Jive to a savage drum beat
Smoke hash, smoke ganja
Chew opium, bite
lalpari
Guzzle country booze—if too broke,
Down a pint of the cheapest
dalda
Stay tipsy day and night, stay tight round the clock
Cuss at one and all; swear by his mom’s twat, his sister’s cunt
Abuse him, slap him in the cheek, and pummel him…
Man, you should keep handy a
Rampuri knife
A dagger, an axe, a sword, an iron rod, a hockey stick, a bamboo
You should carry acid bulbs and such things on you
You should be ready to carve out anybody’s innards without batting an eyelid
Commit murders and kill the sleeping ones
Turn humans into slaves; whip their arses with a lash
Cook your beans on their bleeding backsides
Rob your next-door neighbours, bust banks
Fuck the mothers of moneylenders and the stinking rich

Cut the throat of your own kith and kin by conning them; poison them, jinx them
You should hump anyone’s mother or sister anywhere you can
Engage your dick with every missy you can find, call nobody too old to be screwed
Call nobody too young, nobody too green to shag, lay them one and all
Perform gang rapes on stage in the public
Make whorehouses grow: live on a pimp’s cut: cut the women’s noses, tits
Make them ride naked on a donkey through the streets to shame them
Man, one should dig up roads, yank off bridges
One should topple down streetlights
Smash up police stations and railway stations
One should hurl grenades; one should drop hydrogen bombs to raze
Literary societies, schools, colleges, hospitals, airports
One should open the manholes of sewers and throw into them
Plato, Einstein, Archimedes, Socrates,
Marx, Ashoka, Hitler, Camus, Sartre, Kafka,
Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Ezra Pound, Hopkins, Goethe,
Dostoevsky, Mayakovsky, Maxim Gorky,
Edison, Madison, Kalidasa, Tukaram, Vyasa, Shakespeare, Jnaneshvar,
And keep them rotting there with all their words
One should hang to death the descendents of Jesus, the Paighamber, the Buddha, and Vishnu
One should crumble up temples, churches, mosques, sculptures, museums
One should blow with cannonballs all priests
And inscribe epigraphs with cloth soaked in their blood
Man, one should tear off all the pages of all the sacred books in the world
And give them to people for wiping shit off their arses when done
Remove sticks from anybody’s fence and go in there to shit and piss, and muck it up
Menstruate there, cough out phlegm, sneeze out goo
Choose what offends one’s sense of odour to wind up the show
Raise hell all over the place from up to down and in between
Man, you should drink human blood, eat spit roast human flesh, melt human fat and drink it
Smash the bones of your critics’ shanks on hard stone blocks to get their marrow
Wage class wars, caste wars, communal wars, party wars, crusades, world wars
One should become totally savage, ferocious, and primitive
One should become devil-may-care and create anarchy
Launch a campaign for not growing food, kill people all and sundry by starving them to death
Kill oneself too, let disease thrive, make all trees leafless
Take care that no bird ever sings, man, one should plan to die groaning and screaming in pain
Let all this grow into a tumour to fill the universe, balloon up
And burst at a nameless time to shrink
After this all those who survive should stop robbing anyone or making others their slaves
After this they should stop calling one another names white or black, Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, or Shudra;
Stop creating political parties, stop building property, stop committing
The crime of not recognising one’s kin, not recognising one’s mother or sister
One should regard the sky as one’s grandpa, the earth as one’s grandma
And coddled by them everybody should bask in mutual love
Man, one should act so bright as to make the Sun and the Moon seem pale
One should share each morsel of food with everyone else, one should compose a hymn
To humanity itself, man, man should sing only the song of man.

***

Speculations On A Shirt

Crossing over a period of painful love-play,
Let’s reject the traditional garden of conventions.

Let’s change the sex of Eve.
Let’s make Adam pregnant.
Let’s speculate beyond animal anxieties.
Hell’s quagmire.
The Moon acts like a pimp
In the history of human bonds.
The bull of sexual passion masticates
On a disembodied heath.
We sail in a sinking ship
And turn into savages.
Even just plain cloves burn our tongue;
And we are afraid of light.
This is how liberation itself punishes a human being.

A human being shouldn’t become so spotless.
One should leave a few stains on one’s shirt.
One should carry on oneself a little bit of sin.

***

Cruelty

I am a venereal sore in the private part of language.
The living spirit looking out
of hundreds of thousands of sad, pitiful eyes
Has shaken me.
I am broken by the revolt exploding inside me.
There's no moonlight anywhere;
There's no water anywhere.
A rabid fox is tearing off my flesh with its teeth;
And a terrible venom-like cruelty
Spreads out from my monkey-bone.

Release me from my infernal identity.
Let me fall in love with these stars.
A flowering violet has begun to crawl towards horizons.
An oasis is welling up on a cracked face.
A cyclone is swirling in irreducible vulvas.
A cat has commenced combing the hairs of agony.
The night has created space for my rage.
A stray dog has started dancing in the window's eye.
The beak of an ostrich has begun to break open junk.
An Egyptian carrot is starting to savour physical reality.
A poem is arousing a corpse from its grave.
The doors of the self are being swiftly slammed shut.
There's a current of blood flowing through all pronouns now.
My day is rising beyond the wall of grammar.
God's shit falls on the bed of creation.
Pain and roti are being roasted in the same tandoor's fire.
The flame of the clothless dwells in mythologies and folklore.
The rock of whoring is meeting live roots;
A sigh is standing up on lame legs;
Satan has started drumming the long hollowness.
A young green leaf is beginning to swing at the door of desire.
Frustration's corpse is being sewn up.
A psychopathic muse is giving a shove to the statue of eternity.
Dust begins to peel armour.
The turban of darkness is coming off.
You, open your eyes: all these are old words.
The creek is getting filled with a rising tide;
Breakers are touching the shoreline.

Yet, a venom-like cruelty spreads out from my monkey-bone.

It's clear and limpid: like the waters of the Narmada river.

***

The Day She Was Gone
The day she was gone,
I painted my face black.
I slapped the savage schizophrenic wind hard in its face.
I picked up small pieces of my life
And stood naked in front of a cracked mirror.
I allowed me to wreak vengeance upon myself.
I stared condescendingly at the Sun and said, 'You screwball!'
I showered choice curses upon all artists who paint dreams;
I walked from the East towards the West;
I picked stones I found on the way and hurled them at myself,
How boisterously flows this water in its fit of laughter
Through mountains and gorges.
What ocean is it seeking to meet?
Or will it seep
Into the soil at sea-level?
Did even I belong to myself?
I could not even embrace her dead body
And cry my heart out.
The day she was gone,
I painted my face black.

***

From Gandu Bagicha, 1986
(Arsefuckers Park)

Arsefuckers Park-1

There are neither flowers
Nor leaves;
Neither trees
Nor birds.
All this is mimicry by mercy of His grace:
Sealed fragrance of musk.
Thus the chains on one’s legs are transformed
Into music…

O revealed friend! O gardener!
What shall I recall?
Tears flood the soil of your sensibility.
In the morning and in the evening,
On your sterile field of silence,
Home Guards perform their drill.
On some festive day, a pederast politician
A Councillor preaches here.
The dancing water-pot of goddess Yellamma.
And an all-India women’s conference…

Pimps confessing
To a study group of streetwalkers.
Politicised crows listening to the proceedings.
Charas smokers, ganja smokers;
Pickpockets and thieves.
A mortal forest in the hurt heart.
O Arsefuckers Park!
What sad hour you’ve chosen
To strike at my roots.
Praise and curse;
Arousal and ears.
An eternity of darkness
Lined by a golden shore.
The deluge and all hell breaking loose;
And
Diamond garlands.
The stigma of concealed love and
The harried soul;
The Inferno of lovers’ separation and the graveyard of compassion;
Extreme loneliness and the magic of the frightened;
Behind every word,
There’s a naked face hidden.
How can I yoke these slaves of the bed to my plough?

Arsefuckers Park!
Your city of insatiable angels.

I bear a crown of agony on my head;
A luminous fountain of African anguish;
A wound has found its home in my heart---
Even words cannot open its doors.
A bear made of sunbeams is walking around with a banner.
No complaint can be registered here.
A wretched derelict of a poet like me
Starts dancing to corrupted words in a saint’s festival.
There are neither slogans nor shrieks of pain.
Every face of compassion wears a black veil.
You are allowing your downtrodden life to swim
In the hell-water of self-alienation.
What more can even the trees do now
Except scratch the armpits of bygone times?
Let me fill into my eyes
The darkness in the womb of the soil.
Allow me to listen to the counterfeit jingle of the coin
Of my distraught, sleek-necked dreams.
Allow me just once
To plaster the cracks in the sky of contemporary anguish.

Wearing a white shroud,
A formless silence sleeps in your courtyard.

And the sarcastic scrawl of the bleeding piles in the alphabetical chart swells up;
A mottled piglet tries to fondle grass…
The impotence inherent in good and evil;
The supernatural fingers caressing tresses of hair;
Female buffaloes of a high-yielding breed go on a rampage
In midnight’s outburst of ejaculations.
The master physicians handling them find themselves paralysed.
In a hall of mirrors there’s a chaos of mocking reflections…
How many images of oneself can one see?
Horses are being tattooed on my arms.
The creeping plant of my penis is about to flower.
Ibsen’s Doll is about to get married.
All this pining is to get out
Of this circular battle-trap.
The black truth seeks to ride the tortoise.
I see you on your moral path with the cataracts and the tear-peals in your anguished eyes.
After that, I remember your silent lips;
The distressed insect of your distorted body
Getting its wings painted.
The owl in the hollow of a tree intones its drone.
And you, you refuse to open the door of your perception.
Shall I now put on the boot of amazement on my lame foot?
Shall I now bell the cat?
Or shall I scrape off this intolerable grotesquery?
Shall I put out the flame
That glows between the beginning and the end?

***

New Delhi, 1985

The needle probes for the artery;
Enemies of poetry gather in your city.

Your town is cursed with power;
Roses flow in this stream of blood;
The waters of your Yamuna stand exposed.

India Gate:
Over there, the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
How ruthlessly has this city been combed and groomed!
White elephants sway at the gate of the past.
Goldsmiths mould replicas of peacocks.
Your well-carpentered glory.
Long Kashmiri carpets are rolled out in your streets.
Armed regiments on alert;
The showy itch of culture;
Wooing guests, dancing before them;
Parading cavalry;
Anti-aircraft guns;
Nuclear missiles to frighten off enemies;
The President accepting a salute from those hanging between the sky and the earth;
The Prime Minister shaking hands
With the glorified blemished.
Bravo!
What a spectacular festival.

COMMENTS PRINT
From The Archives
Namdeo Dhasal (1949-2014) was not important just because he happened to be Dalit, or because he was a Marathi poet. He was, arguably, one of the major world poets of the Twentieth century.
Dilip Chitre
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