Culture & Society

Two Poems By Pandurang Gaonkar

Pandurang Gaonkar juxtaposes war's devastation on poetry with the shallowness of activism, laying bare the fragility of human ideals in the face of harsh realities.

Photo by Biplov Bhuyan via Getty Images
Bombshell - Cease Fire Photo by Biplov Bhuyan via Getty Images

Cease Fire

By the pond, by the river

On the beach, under the banyan,

Below lush foliage of a tree,

Or even just a few feet below the three coconut palms that merge in the sky

You do not meet poetry anywhere now.

By the back door of a deserted house

Blown up by a rocket

Our poems which reject war

Lie bloodied

Punctured by a sniper from an unidentified nest.

It would have been you and me, no?

Lying hand-in-hand, buried under the rubble of the house

Knocked down by the rocket which dodged the Iron Dome's gaze.

Photographers click away

At your hands and mine

Which have risen

From the pile of bricks

To demand a cease-fire.



Poetry stands in queue

At the revolution square

Just like burning candles

At a protest meet.

They brand everyone a sham,

Those intellectuals who speak in assembly lines

Journalists jot down notes furiously line after line.

After long, very long-winded introductions

The protest march begins.

After submitting a representation at the police station

All the reformers fade into darkness, disappearing in line, one after another.

It has been a month since

The woman in whose name

The agitation was staged had died.

But no one seems to care anymore,

After putting her memory behind them

The reformers buy a pregnancy test-kit from a pharmacy at their wife’s request

And head home in the darkness, in line, one after another.

(These poems were originally written in Konkani by Pandurang Gaonkar, a journalist and poet based in Goa, and translated by Mayabhushan Nagvenkar)