Hemant Divate

(1967 - / Mumbai / India)

A Depressingly Monotonous Landscape - Poem by Hemant Divate


How did the landscape in my mind
flow into my daughter's mind?

Right now in front of me is an expanse of
buildings, shopping malls, highways, factories and traffic
and if I tell her to sketch a landscape
she draws sunsets
a flowing river, trees, fields, shrines
draws birds which look like scrawled numbers*
in my tiny, overcast skies

From the seamless forest of this city
are never seen
the sunset beyond the house in my mind
the river, trees, paths, temples, birds, footways
How did these
stream into her mind?


When she understands
the picture of my childhood
which has flowed away
and the answer
to 'Why does she draw exactly like this?'
then will all the paintings by everyone in this world
have melted away? Or will they have remained
trapped in just their quiet?


She gets nightmares, so do I
of headless people carrying
the corpses of orphaned villages
into the cemeteries of cities
or ferrying frightful landscapes of the city
to superimpose them on the erased villages
The same, the very same landscape
encloses within itself
all the headless people
All, all cities have the same name
the same streets, same buildings, same shopping malls
all transfixed in the same predefined places
like a regiment ready for a march
Moving about paths of
the same name same colours
the same smells same forms
the same faces as though clones of themselves
and at the same deceptive crossroads
she reaches the same statues
No matter where she flees
the same statues confront her again and again
and she arrives at the same landscapes
of the same cities
with no signs or landmarks to guide her
In the same places
she sees the same people
speaking the same language
and with the same shapes
same gestures
standing in queues of the same length
in the very same manner
going to the same stations
driving the same vehicles
at the same speed
in the same direction
at the same time
passing by the same trees
of the same height
of the same kind
separated in the same way
by the same dividers
on the same road
The same people
are shredded
in the same way
by the same bombs
and lie scattered the same way
petrified the same way
broken the same way
In the same monotonous manner
on any channel on any TV
flash the same misery-multiplying pictures
total ly monotonous
depressingly monotonous
totally depressing
dip dip depressing
She dips and collapses
sees my same terrified, depressed face
the moment she let goes
her tight grip on my hand in the crowd
and just like me
she too flows away into
the gigantic, self-destructive flood
of headless people
I dream the very dream she is dreaming
at the same time
I too see her alarmed, depressed face
and shudder
I forget to carry village to city and city to village
and reach here
reach where?

[Translated from the original Marathi by Sarabjeet Garcha]

Poet's Notes about The Poem

Translator's note: The original line compares the birds to the Devnagari number 4, which looks like a child's or a cartoonist's doodled representation of a distant bird on the wing. This comparison, however, is not possible in English, because the Arabic numeral 4 doesn't resemble a bird in any manner.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, September 13, 2012

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