I never met you live.
You were not there where I was,
And I was not, where you were.
I read you late, and not
In any order, like you read the world,
With the philosopher’s head
Inside the joker’s mask. Here
I return to you all that you
Gave me, certain that
You will speak no more.
Perhaps we did not understand each other
But we shared one fear: that of emptiness.
It beckoned us, ‘Come, come!’
As the vacant page, the deep hollow
Words conceal, the silence that
Fills the margins, the unbearable
Lightness of being, the aimless
Flight of the weightless, the
Shapeless sky, the ghost’s hand that
Snatches the pen from our hands,
The nameless people walking in
Front of the tanks blowing the same
Horn in the same uniform,
Unuttered love, the joy of inertia,
The echo of the voice without
Being, the yearning for our own
Lost halves, the land we had to flee,
The language we had to give up,
The bed at home dreamt by
The one who sleeps with many women.
We never return to the
Place we left. Even if the doors once
Shut on our face open to welcome us.
We now belong to another tongue.
Sex does not give us pleasure
Abstinence, not even as much.
The shadow of a hangman’s rope follows
Those who love freedom, everywhere.
The dreams we had made with
Red petals suddenly turned to
Rough, heartless, stones.
We were all bisexual, until
God split us apart; that is why
Women and men seek each other, like
Looking for their lost half
Bleeding from their sides.
Words too were like that. That is
Why a word looks for its many lost
Meanings. Words that refuse to
Be used in flattery live in a cottage
On the other side of power, like
Writers who cry out against being labelled.
We go on living as we do not know
What we want. We float, imperfect,
In the ever-flowing semantic river
We dream about the future
In order to transform the past
When that dream begins with a metaphor,
We call it poetry, when it begins with
An image, we call it love.
What you said was right: Man’s struggle
Against power is the struggle of
Memory against forgetting. But memory
Is short, and forgetting, long.
So, power exists unchallenged, its
Muscles choking the world. The only
Language it knows is the language
Of prisons. Every time the subjects need
To begin a new struggle to become
Humans. The Great Dictator, whatever his flag,
Screams from his bed of skeletons
For the sceptics’ blood to fill its goblet.
The same actor plays the role of the
Hero and the villain as the screenplay
Demands. All love is conditional,
And all conditions are violent.
Status quo is death; it takes everything. If
You want love, you need to shed your strength,
Like Bhima who went in search of the flower
We alone are responsible for our
Ignorance, and others, for our knowledge.
Answers are all in vain, questions
Alone are true. There is nothing more serious
Than laughter, except laughter. It
Bounces back from the limits of
Existence, explodes, breaks us into
Pieces. We become many, like the image
Broken by the waves into fragments
Before we even ask who we really are, they
Change shape again.
The time for choice is over. We recall
The absences. And call it nostalgia. Or may be
Franz, may be Sabina, Marketta, Vladimir,
Ludwick, Xavier, Jeromil, Klema, may be
Screta, Rusena, Michel, Gabriel, Kristina ,
Paul, Agnes, Vincent, Vera, Karena, Theresa,
Or, may be Milan Kundera.
Slow, slow, you say, fast, faster, says
The world. The windows of stars above,
You say; the keys of the money-box below,
It says. Or thrones. We discover ourselves
When the world disappears and we
Are left to our misery, you say;
We grow strong when we cause others
Misery, says the world.
Don’t speak about freedom, we have
Run away from there. Memory is the
Only refuge now for dissent. Come to India,
Comrade, I shall show you the veins of
Fear in every leaf, all that you saw in
Your land. But we have no lands to flee.
Accidents of history surprise us no more.
We don’t see obscenity when the very life
We live has turned obscene. We remember slowly,
Forget fast. We silently watch truth drown
In noise. Empathy, compassion, you say,
Get out of yourself, you say, love is
Struggle, you say.
We do not listen. We will not.
No people recognizes
Its own death.
(Translated from Malayalam by the poet)