Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Maulikraj Shrimali

May 21, 2021 | Front And Center, Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Hindi by Prateek Khobragade
Flames of Blue Fire

Your teargas is burning our eyes.
and the violence of your caste and religious hatred, our houses
burning from hunger is that belly,
which has walked 21 days to reach home
burning still is the naked corpse of my sister
that was found after three days, in the bushes of your field
burning is the heart of my father
a laborer
who stares at the cold chimneys of the mills
and my childhood too has become a burnt red
like these bricks that I bake
all the crop in the field, craving for water,
is burning itself down
and my brother, to burn down his debt
is burning out himself like a matchstick
blowing hard in damp firewood
my mother’s lungs
have become a furnace
and her widow-like daughter-in-law
awaiting the return of her labor husband
is burning her adulthood
chests of all men in my slum
have become factories emitting beedi smoke
and the degrees of young men
are now burning at desi liquor breweries
while you sit watching Ramayan in your houses
my uncles and aunties and kith and kin
frightened of the pandemic
are returning from Vanvaas, barefoot
and then suddenly
you appear on the television
provoking people to burn clay lamps
your words fall into my ears
like molten lead poured
in the ears of my ancestors
my blood rushes in my veins
like beasts rush out of a burning forest
And I decide
to not light the lamp
at 9 pm on April 5, 2020
but instead
become a lamp myself
‘Appa Deepa Bhava’
said the Buddha
By becoming educated and organized,
I will keep the fire burning
The fire that was lit by Babasahab.
And like Birsa
I will make a torch out of myself.
I will Light an oil-lamp in a shack and read Gulamgiri
And like Periyar,
rise a moon of self-respect
I will fan the flames of Kanshiram’s Bahujan movement, with a blue flag
And become Rohit
And become the first ray of sun
On April the 5th, at 9 pm
I will dive into a gutter
to accumulate the methane gas
I should tell you if you don’t know
this gas burns with a blue flame
In these very blue flames
I will burn the Manusmriti
And burn all the Shastras
that have kept me at a social distance,
and imposed upon my existence
a psychological inferiority
by sticking the shame of a surname
at the end of my name
Hence tonight,
I will burn down this very fear of caste
Just like how
you burn Holika
On April 5 2020
at 9 pm
I will alight a flame of blue fire
And when those blue flames touch the blue sky
Your clay lamps
will be in the dire scarcity of oxygen.

Maulikraj Shrimali

Maulikraj Shrimali

Maulikraj Shrimali is a practitioner and research scholar at Theatre and Performance studies, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. He has completed his MPhil in Diaspora Studies from Central University of Gujarat. He is a founder and director of anti-caste theatre group called ‘Whistle Blower Theatre Group’. His areas of research interest are Theatre for development, Nomadic and Denotified Tribes, Dalit and Adiwasi culture,Indian Diaspora, Migration, Caste and marginality.

Prateek Khobragade

Prateek Khobragade

Prateek Khobragade is an anti-caste rapper, activist and a research scholar at Centre for Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.

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