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The Talking Vulture

This poem, translated from the original in Meitei by Khuraijam Nirupama, was composed for a pre-election poetry recital event titled Ethical Election, organised by Youth Collective Manipur.

Photograph: Getty Images
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It is indeed a narrow space.
Holding tightly,
it’s squeezed and turned
to whatever direction.
Nobody is complaining
but bearing all pain.
I started it, they do it again.
Turning enough,
the pointedness has disappeared;
and the two faces are widening.

No narrow space is left now.
Slowly and spontaneously,
it widens, turning into an open sky.

Here comes a venue of vultures.
For them, they think-
it’s the dawning of
their dark passage.
Then, they begin to dance.

O friends and companions!
Come, let’s go
in quest of better food
and for a better future.
But forget not
-the crocodile’s tear.
When the big vultures speak,
the little ones turn into adolescents,
flapping their wings,
making a loud laughter,
hoping they will survive.

O human beings!
How timid you are!
You might be squeezed while you’re asleep;
but don’t let it be while you’re awake.
Behold!
The two palms are joining,
that too with unexercised power.
The heads are stooping,
and that’s the tradition too.

The sweet words may be deceptive,
but the hearts indulge in laughter,
and a pause interrupts it.
“What’s the reason!
O vulture,
dare you say?”

The vulture replies,
“You think-
the world is yours.
Better rethink-
before it’s late.
We’ve flown all around the earth.
The world’s in nobody’s palm.
Like a beggar,
you move from door to door
for a mound of rice.
Thus, you beg and depend;
tireless – you are in begging,
how low you’ve become!
Life is prestigious,
but irony is what we see.”
So, scoffs the vulture.

“Where do the humans proceed?
Their legs and hands are
fresh, handsome and capable;
and the fingers are more attractive.
Lo! How terrible it is!
Their legs are cut off
just for a mound of rice;
their hands are gone too
in exchange of a meal.
What a miserable scene we see!
Never have we behaved like you.
To live a longer life
Go around and find healthy food.”
Thus, suggests the vulture.

Speaking human language,
flapping its wings,
then, it flies away,
not to be seen again.

This poem, translated from the original in Meitei by Nirupama, was composed for a pre-election poetry recital event titled Ethical Election, organised by Youth Collective Manipur.

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Khuraijam Nirupama is a final-year undergraduate student, Imphal college

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