Saturday 14 March 2009

A Mizo Star (A Letter Written with Love)

- Raghu Leisangthem
(Translated from the Manipuri by Robin S Ngangom)

James Dokhuma, I’ll come and see
Your hunting rifle one day
In Mizoram’s museum with my own eyes,
Traversing the paths of your soaring hilltops.
You’ve seen, haven’t you
In the thick forests of the Mizo hills,
Small streams of little ravines
In your novels,
In your poetry,
Amidst the broken stones of your gliding rivers,
In the gestures of dancing leaves of trees growing there.
From the windows of little huts
Covered with dark clouds
You’ve watched, haven’t you
How small red birds
Soared freely in the sky.
Padmashree,
You’re a comrade lifting your hands together
With your hilltops in solidarity,
With animals, birds, forests, and
With hills, lakes, rivers.
Inside a dark prison cell you are
A writer, rebel, who opened his eyes and saw light.
The scars made by bullets
Which struck your body
Are indelible moles of that beautiful face.


The inspiration behind this poem, Mizo writer James Dokhuma (b. 1932, d. 2007), played an active part in the Mizo insurgency movement of the 60s and was made to serve a prison term, during which he wrote a number of poems and novels. In 1985, the Govt of India awarded him a Padmashree for his contribution to literature.

Raghu Leisangthem (b. 1959) is a Manipuri poet, and I am deeply grateful to my old friend Robin Ngangom for allowing me to reproduce here his lovely translation of this generous poetic tribute to one of our greatest literary stalwarts.



5 comments:

Raldawna said...

Wonderful. Its not an everyday poem that we see here. A poem about a Mizo by a non Mizo. Hope to see more...

mesjay said...

Lovely. The sentiment, the execution and translation are all so charming

ruolngulworld said...

Wonderful translation - nostalgic, sentimental and touching. Now all we need is some of Pu Dokhuma's own works here.

feddabonn said...

didn't know james dokhuma's rifle was on display at the museum!
there you go, poetry can be QUITE educative!

___ K said...

very thought-provoking