Sunday Poem: Kalahandi

Translated by Sailen Routray from the Odia original by Akhil Nayak Translated by Sailen Routray

I was covered in a patchwork quilt of a sari inside the confines of my home.

The one who dragged me away and made me stand in the middle of the haat, who shoved his thick fingers in the eyes of the crowd of spectators, and declared my nakedness, he was called a journalist; and now, he owns a two-storied building in the capital.

The one who searched dusty pages of thick tomes for the causes of my nakedness, who investigated the proportion of salt and sugar in my tears, was called a researcher; his waist size increased by a few inches on the fellowship of the University Grants Commission.

The one who cried pages and pages grieving over my nakedness, stitched words and made stanzas, was called a poet; he was applauded, felicitations and awards in the auditoria of five-star hotels.

The one who growled that he would cut the hands of those who had disrobed me, who swore that he would, with his own fingers, weave me a beautiful sari was called a leader of men; he received the throne and the crown.

I, blinded and mute, still stand at the centre of this haat, with my hanging head wearing the same patchwork quilt of a sari.

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