River is fearless in the bosom of the mountain
Mountain fearless in the lap of the forest
Forest is fearless in the shadow of the sky
Sky is fearless in the infinity of the universe
Universe fearless in the languages of ancestors
Ancestral l languages are fearless in the living and non-living expressions
And, Expressions are fearless in the continual flow of rivers.
(Translated by Sundar Manoj Hembrom)
Assuage my sorrow, my country
Ask less of me.
How your residents are rendered feeble
for the joys of the few.
Famished days; and nights, the same,
For the satisfaction of such few stomachs
Jungle after jungle replete
with cartridges and rifles
The trees are awake all night
Nothing is able to stay
neither men, nor women, nor children
nor the night, nor its mystery.
Night, like a plastic flower, is
now an ordinary thing.
The dream remains pierced in its eye
(Trans by Medha Singh )
In a poem travelling through a tribal village,
Some people are looking for
The bare back of a tribal woman bathing in the river
Soaked to the skin, on her way home some young girl,
Having wrapped in just a piece of cloth her figure.
Some are now trying to find in the poem
Gotul, Dhumkuriya, Gitij Orah,
And people dancing around fire all night,
Chests gleaming like gold in the yellow light,
And a carefree smile, almost spark-like.
Two quiet eyes of a scared girl, sneaking
From behind a wall in the morning
And shying away into the house
Catching sight of a stranger.
When she comes out ever so slowly,
Laughs, talks to him cheerfully,
And while chatting and laughing,
Touches his shoulder unthinkingly.
He takes it to be
A simplicity cheap and easy,
And in turn begins
To run his fingers down her back lustfully.
Years after, in his wanton sleep
He still seeks that girl’s back,
Her hands brushing his shoulder frequently,
A carefree naivity,
Which he always considered cheap and easy.
Waking from his sleep he is dazed,
No such girl does he find
In any poem these days.
The poem carves his back with a scythe,
All his perverted fingers it breaks,
And out loud it cries,
Stop looking for tribal women in poems
(no. 52 in forthcoming book, transl. by Bhumika Chawla-d’Souza )
He abducts a six year old girl
Bloodies her, wipes his penis
Reaches home, washes up and has his meal
He lives like a good man Good men also think
He is a good man.
(Trans by Savita Singh)
These are untouchable now as then
Risking their lives, serving humanity
No facilities even now for them
Even though called soldiers of the nation
Akin to doctors and policemen
But are they truly so respected
Media showers them these days with flowers
One wonders if they would retain this dignity later
For even now
While others get leave with salary, not them
And, Savarna’s will never do the sanitation work
Even Pandemic cannot conceal the difference
How lowly is this work!
How lowly this life!
Should it not end now, the system of caste,
Should Corona not alert us to our common humanity?
Telos of life!
(Trans. By Savita Singh)
You can call Agra as Agravan
You can call me a Kafir
But you will not be able to change
the name of Shahjahan
Mumtaz will also remain Mumtaz
The Taj may lose the crown
In this era of digging graves
may the country does not lose it’s name
Wrinkles fall on the country’s forehead
Seeing the wrinkles
Dattatreya blows Pataka bidi
He knows that
Smoking is not the cure of sorrow
He doesn’t take the country to the doctor
by holding it’s hands
He sits on the plateau
and sees the stars during the day
Dattatreya is not an astrologer
If he was, he would have seen the Panchang of the country
Yet I don’t not ask him the future of the country
The horoscope of the country is now in the hands of the government.
Rather than looking at the hands of the government
I would like to see Dattatreya’s hand
who writes open letters in love to Sufla
I would see Lautifa’s hand
She cuts sixty slices of tomatoes
I see the hand of the child
whose kite is flying in the open sky The hand of Haribhau farmer
who has coloured the horns of the bullocks in the colour of Tiranga
The bulls that are walking
fearless on the street of Phaltan
There is no threat to them that anyone
can change their names
(Translation by Malini Gautam)
Savita Singh is a feminist poet and Creative Critical theorist from India. She writes both in Hindi and English languages and in both the area of her deep interest: literature and critical theory. She has published four collections of poetry in Hindi: Apne Jaisa Jeevan( 2001), Neend Thi aur Raat Thee( 2005), Swapna Samay (2013) and Khoyi Cheezon ka Shoke (2021). She has one collection of poems in French, Je suis la maison des etoiles,(2008) two in Odiya and a joint collection of poems and paintings with Medha Singh and Divya Singh, je suis la maison des etoiles, Suivi de Ecdysis peintures de Divya Singh ( Phloeme, Paris, 2022). Her poems are translated into many languages of the world including German, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Catalonian. She has a bilingual collection in English and Hindi, Rowing Together which did with Sukrita ( Rajkamal Prakashan, 2008); an anthology of women poets of the seven continents of the world, Seven Leaves, One Autumn ( Rajkamal Prakashan, 2011) . She has received many awards for her literature including Hindi Academy Award, Raza Foundation Award, Mahadevi Verma Samman, Eunice de Souza Award and Kedar Samman. Recently she has published a book of philosophical reflection with Roy Bhaskar, Reality and it’s Depths: A Conversation with Roy Bhaskar ( Springer, 2020); A research outcome from her post doc fellowship, FMSH, Paris, in Krishna Sobti, ” Walking on Dew: A Feminist Reading of Krishna Sobti’s Ai Ladki” in Krishna Sobti: A counter Archive ( Routledge, 2022); she has edited a book of twenty women poets writing in Hindi, Pratirodh ka Stree Swar: Samkaleen Hindi Kavita ( Radhakrishna Prakashan, 2023) She is the founding Director and professor in the School of Gender and Development Studies, IGNOU, Delhi. She is one of the directors and Co-Chair of International Herbert Marcuse Society, USA.