Sunday, November 6, 2016

Rewind - John Chhana

Three men removed the heavy marble stone and placed it aside, then went on to dig out the coffin that had housed him for eternity. Mourners arrived by the throng, the pastor read from the Bible and the coffin was taken to the morgue. There his corpse was removed and carefully inspected, after which the doctor came in to check on him, and eventually, to pronounce him alive. It was his birthday.

Seventy-six years, twenty four days, thirty two minutes and seventeen seconds, said the doctor, the cancer will be gone in five years or so. That was how much time he had left. He shrugged, got into his birthday suit, the black one, and was pushed out on a wheelchair. His family was there – the wife and the twins, both in their teens and they cried when they saw him. He said nothing, for he was but only one day into the world. There was the house, which he would go on to give to another person by also paying that person, and there was the dog which had been born on the same day as him, and now had twelve years or so left.

The years passed, and with that his memories left him, along with much of what he already knew. Fortunately, the pain in his side had gone as well; things were looking up. His children grew dumber and moved from college to high school, while he got a job at an office but then got fired because he now knew too little. When the twins grew smaller, he found that his problems got bigger and they had to have their diapers changed. Eventually, their time was up and they were sent back into their mother’s womb to the sound of joy and laughter. They had died and it was the first happiest day of his life.

In a year, he and his wife entered the church where the pastor pronounced them single man and single woman. They kissed and removed the rings from each other’s fingers; the second happiest day of his life. They had some time left together after that though, and they gradually fell out of love until that fateful day when he said goodbye to her forever. His brain grew duller every moment, and just like his children, he moved from college to high school, when in time, he knew nothing and the seventy-six years had all but passed.

And so, on that day, he too, was sent back into the womb. His father, who had been born miraculously out of a car accident only two days ago, gave him one last look, smiled happily and said, “You shall no longer be called John.”

On a bigger scale and long story short, the government decided it was time to wage war to give away their independence and one brave man thought it time to do away with the electric bulb. People kept erasing all the good books during all this time, while some experts were hired to unmake every last thing- skyscrapers and bridges were taken down. Millions awoke from their slumber on the fields of war, only to jump right into the fray with rifles at the ready. People were released from prison after which they brought back others into the world. Trees were returned to the forests where they stand for ages and all the minerals were taken back to where they belonged. Cities receded, the waters became pure and birds returned to their place in the sky. A great wall was demolished and the barbarian hordes returned to their humble beginnings.

In the end, a man walking on all fours removed his spear from a stag, bringing it to life. Big, monstrous creatures began to roam the earth again and the human was all but a tiny speck in the universe, as it always was. When all these things did come to die, the one perpetual thing undid the earth itself and roamed the void, because for Him there would be no beginning. 

John Chhana
lives in Shillong and has an unexpectedly scientific background for a young creative writer, being a postgraduate in Biochemistry. He is also a talented artist and graphic designer, as well as being interested in photography and videography. He recently made a no-budget Christian short film, doing the script-writing, acting and cinematography with the help of close friends.

He won second place with a very creative, tongue-in-cheek piece on headhunting in a short-story writing competition I had the good fortune to be on the judging panel of earlier this year.  I am delighted to be able to feature one of his writings here.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Poems - Hannah Lalhlanpuii


Sometimes it is easier to hide under the covers,
Than to admit how I miss his light.
Sometimes the space he left is too wide,
To fill it up with poetry.
I remember him at night,
The feel of his jacket,
The scar on his chin.
I fashioned myself a shield,
Out of his memories.
To protect myself,
From spilling a tear,
From breaking down.
Come back,
For a breath, for a beat,
For a day, for a year,
For me,
For us.


Library Reverie 

Between the ticks of the clock,
Somewhere along the tap of keyboards,
In the soft whirling of the fan,
I could hear you.
Projections on the wall take your form,
Your footprints embroidered the floor,
I hallucinated that you walked in through the door.
My concentration is undoubtedly poor.

Is it the boredom that pulled you in here?
Or is this lonely heart beating too loud for you to sit still?
For, here you are.
You are here with all your breaths, your thoughts and everything more than just you in flesh.
You dragged in everything with you -
Your smell, your thoughts and wants,
As if the sight of you alone is not enough to kill the heavy air.
You were so close,
I could smell the human sweat on you,
I could see your veins pumping beneath your skin.

Eager hands reaching out,
Watch out for that chair,
Come closer.

Then a drop of a pen flicks you away.

Hannah Lalhlanpuii is presently working on an M.Phil. in English literature at the University of Hyderabad. She writes poetry both in English and Mizo.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Four - Lalsangliani Ralte

Four is the dreary intensity
Of shock, of anguish, of despair, of questions,
Of self-blame.

What if, what if, what if, what if

unwanted phone calls
uninvited knocks on the door
unsolicited bad news

Four hearts, four faces, four smiles
Four pairs of feet, four pairs of hands
Four into ten fingers
Four into ten toes
Four innocent lives,
Four loved souls.

When four becomes pain
Mizo men and women, young and old
Rise to the occasion
Amidst rain, discomfort, cold, hunger

Four may be a hurt unparalleled
But it will never stand for solitude
Here in the land of the Zo people
For as long as the sons and daughters of the soil
Remember the narratives of 'tlawmngaihna'
Whispered by the spirits of their ancestors.

When four becomes vague memories
Faint smiles and faded pictures
When four becomes hushed warnings
By concerned parents
In the mortal world

Four will be immortal
At the feet of their Saviour
Playmates of angels for eternity

Four new smiles
To make the stars brighter
Up there.

*On the humid evening of October the 4th, 2016, five children all under the age of twelve, were playing on a river bank in Ramthar, a locality in Aizawl, when sudden, heavy rain turned the stream into a raging flash flood which swept away four of the children. The survivor, a ten year old girl, managed to summon help who immediately set out looking for the missing children. Their bodies were eventually all recovered over the next few days by YMA-organised search parties.

Lalsangliani Ralte is an M.Phil in English from Mizoram University. She has written a number of poems on topical issues including the Nirbhaya rape case.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Untitled - Bex Hauhnar

We soak our pain in the chaos of the broken end that we look past the beauty of the beginning. We dwell in the sea of reverie, blocking the tides that hope brings and losing ourselves to self-pity, blind our eyes to what promises bring.

It's not wrong to cry over our never healing scars but it is a prejudice against our souls to trap our dreams that might drag us out of our coma of tears.

~ ~ ~

I have loved you ever since I became frightened to thoughts of losing you.
Ever since your name resonates in my head like a kite to a string.
I knew I loved you when the quick brush of your hand sent sparks down my spine.
I had loved you then when every wish tied my tongue to thoughts of you.
I had started loving you when i poured myself a glass and every sip tasted like your sweet lips.
I knew I loved you then when every waking hour showers me your sweet smile.
I knew I loved you then when algorithms and physics makes no sense.
And your goodbyes were my unsolved chemistry.
I knew I love you when the sky became my sheet and the sea became my ink.
I know love only in the form of you.
I know love only when love is you.

Bex (Becky) Hauhnar recently graduated from college with a first class in English literature. Although she has not been writing for very long, her poetry has been fittingly described as having "soul." She is currently preparing to study law in South India.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Locust Years/ Khaukhuap Kum - Malsawmi Jacob

locust years

honey in a broken jar
summer breeze caught in a net
flowed  blowed away
into lunglo* stream.

glowing golden yarn on loom—
sunlit days and starlit nights
rolled scrolled away
never back will roll.

but the silver strands in hand
pretty pattern yet may weave
hide the scars of
locust eaten years.

*Lunglo is the stream of forgetting on the way to the world of the dead in Mizo myth


khaukhuap kum

khawizu bur keha thun leh
thlifim chhihriha dan chu
a baw zo, a tleh liam
lunglo tuiah an pil zo.

thembu-a rangka zai ban –
ni em ni, si-ar em zan
an zial bo, an her bo
an kir leh ngai tawh lo’ng e.

silvar zai kuta kawl lai
tahpuan atan bang ila
ze mawi dang a chhuah mah na
khaukhuap ei ser* zawng thup nan.    

©Malsawmi Jacob

Blogger's note: I am so happy to be able to post here an original poem in English and the poet's translation of it in Mizo. With the increasing interest in Northeast culture and literature, including poetry in Mizo and their translations, this is something to treasure.