15 August 2008, Northeast India Poem by Robin S Ngangom

15 August 2008, Northeast India

Having lost my independence
How could I celebrate it
Though I've sewn flags on cockeyed schooldays?
Margins are superfluous in the big centre's book
Although memory is not silent and speaks up at times.

Now the periphery (of which I'm also a guilty part)
Is scrawling a unique history on delusive margins,
Mischievous like a collage by brawling painters.
Once lebensraum has sunk to pogroms
The periphery can kill too
And then deal cards on the peace table
Or hoist a nation's flag in driving rain.
On the continuum of farce
It doesn't matter if we're moving forward or backward
Or if a government is serving rats on its menu,
The morning passes with a prime minister orating
From the ramparts of a fort,
"Make the borders irrelevant," he said over a year ago.
But then "military factories would close
And fence makers would have nothing to fence in or out".
It never occurred to him to disguise himself and ask
The man on the street of his unhappiness.
It seems we are preparing for happiness tomorrow
At the price of misery today.

On the road outside shut down by insurgents
Aimless now in its nonplussation
Trees and lamps are breathing fog and a light rain.
This day passes between surfing for news of the outside world,
Statistics of farmers committing suicide on the weaver belt
And the poor waiting for paper to translate into bread
And 50 years of discrimination festering in the periphery
With another anniversary of murder and disappearences.

I've been told that I live on the edge
By intellectuals who also teach me
The history and politics of far away countries.
I have to take their word on faith, being so unread.
I don't know if I'm shallow with little inner life.

I try not to book a flat in the city of the sky
But meditate brokenly on love and its players
Although it gave me a terrible fright the other day,
I had silenced her shame with my mouth
And remain a freeloader of passion and its web.

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Robin S Ngangom

Robin S Ngangom

Imphal, Manipur / India
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