Among Freed Bonded-Labourers• Poem by Suman Pokhrel

Among Freed Bonded-Labourers•

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I could not say
which one was more authentic,
their fate or
the slender woody sticks
that supported their shacks.

I didn’t understand
which one was more unclad
and which one more ruinous
the hated history
they chucked on the ground
or the shameless present
that mocks their fate.

I was surprised
when their free tongues
bolstered by self-esteems
were resonating around us
creating ripples of smiles
across their faces
like deep contentment.

Friends were asking
‘what will you do if it rains?
‘maybe we will get wet’
was their reply.
‘what will you eat later? ’
they had no reply to offer
save the selfsame smiles.

I felt I was getting enraged
and losing my speech
like them losing their dreams.

I felt like slapping on those faces
smiling for good fortunes
that they never saw,
and for laughing
even in misery.

Like a rainbow arching with a splash
like a rain falling in needles
like sun drifting away by stealth
without touching the country sky
I felt like crying
to see them jesting
with their own dreams.

I was feeling like mad
by the melody of birds
singing out of tune
in the settlements
where travels lose
their own destinations,
zest of butterflies dancing
unaware of their fates,
and the dumb wind
blowing with no fine taste.

I felt I would die
to see that hollowness
born by defeating humiliations;
they were cheerful
as if they had conquered the world.

Life’s mystery continued to trouble me
a question came to my mind,
is freedom dearer than life?
or does it become easier to live
when life becomes difficult?

(Translated from Nepali by Abhi Subedi)

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