Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Weight - Sanga Says

 

There are two presences
The tangible and the intangible
And the weight of either vary
Upon those caught in its gravity
Here in hospitals rooms and corridors
Spilling out to the wailing, breathless streets
To the crematoriums of fire and water
Ashes dissolve into holy rivers
My country, in crimson ember,
Flickers between two presences
And the weight
The weight...

Sanga Says or Lalnunsanga Ralte, has been regularly featured here being one of our most well-known Mizo poets in English. This is his take on the Covid situation in India, the disaster of apocalyptic proportions that has left us all reeling.



Wednesday, May 12, 2021

7 a.m. – Lalrinsangi Nghinglova

7 a.m. 
it has become
a habit of sorts
to wait
with bated breath
for 7 a.m.
The hour that tells you
the number.
Every day at 7 a.m,
DIPR gives out
the statistics
of new positive cases.
As the numbers increase,
I pray every morning,
at 7 a.m.
that very soon,
the hour will tell us
that we have defeated
the virus
with prayers and obedience
and that
7 a.m. will show us
the answer to our
prayers and obedience.



Lalrinsangi Nghinglova is an Assistant Professor in English at Govt. Zirtiri Residential Science College in Aizawl. Married with three children, she is also currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Mizoram University. While she says she's no poet, these lines are a brilliant snapshot of the apprehension and anxiety that accompany the dreaded hour of 7 in the morning when the latest updates on the Covid situation in Mizoram are announced on social media platforms by the Directorate of Information & Public Relations.


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

A Prayer for the Dying, April 2021 - Mimi Pachuau

 

My heart breaks into tiny sharp pieces

When I see the morgue vans queuing for hours

Outside crematoriums…imagine, just imagine

Being one of the drivers

He must wonder if, or when

He may be the cold passenger…

He may not even be lucky enough to make it there

Like so many, the pavement could be his ending.


My skin no longer feels like mine

For there is death in the air

The Indian summers of the past seem mellow

Compared to the heat today,

The very air we now breathe

Is mixed with the smoke from funeral pyres

It is ironic that we breathe the remains

Of those who have died because they couldn’t breathe.

My Delhi is gasping for oxygen but it’s in short supply.


I’ve never felt this small in my life

As I earth these big prayers for my India

For the lakhs of Covid cases found every day

For the thousands dying each day,

For the crumbling healthcare system,

For children going hungry at night,

For our burning forests in the hills,

For our leaders who are overwhelmed,

For some who just don’t seem to care,

For your children who are like a speck of dirt in this enormous country.

 

Kyrie Eleison - Lord, have mercy!

May the ashes from the funeral pyres turn to crown of beauty

May you release waves of healing across this land.

 

Mimi Pachuau wrote this on the 25th April 2021 when the entire world looked on in horror as the Covid situation in India spiralled out of control and we saw picture after picture and video after video of smoking funeral pyres and people dying while gasping for oxygen. For Mimi, Delhi is her second home as she spent several years there, first as an English Honours student at Lady Shri Ram College and later as an MA student at the Delhi School of Economics. She later received a Ph.D. from Mizoram University and had a stint working in the Sociology department at Mizoram University. She very rarely writes poetry. 


Monday, April 26, 2021

Lines on Covid-19 written in the Solitude of Covid-Imposed Lockdown - Ralteite Pa

 

I see God in His omniscience

smiling

to see His beloved wayward children

squabbling over existence and self defined boundaries.

For it was His decree that set in his Eternal immutable will

how far the sea should cover the land

and how far the puny pride of man

should dare to question His sovereignty.

Let man realise his impotence against the most insignificant member of His vast family that sits at His cosmic table daily,

and tremble at the noiseless thunder of applause

praising the just and immutable rule of Him that raises the miniscule head of the nano-cellular virus above the self-ordained authority of the youngest bipedal creature who in his beggarly effort shakes the very house built for him

to his, alas, irrevocable doom!

 

So let all homo sapiens respect this invisible co-denizen of this planet and stay a tolerable distance from his immobile clutches or become the unwilling vehicle of its conquering might!


Ralteite Pa has given me strict instructions on how he wishes his name to be published here. Incognito :) However, I believe I have the freedom to state that this is a departure from the Mizo Writers under 26 feature I've been following over the last few months.   Thank you, Pu Ralteite Pa, for your poetic effort of what you call "more prods to sensitize us: drought, fire, environment crisis, universal morbidity."

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Poems - rinsangi

 

i smile as i watch you run through sunlit fields of daffodils and daisies under the canary tinted sky. the warmth of the evening sun reflects your soft honey eyes. your scent is of fresh freesias, a sweet reminiscent of midsummer dreams and twilight wishes. the summer stars start to appear shyly as your soft coral lips form a seraphic smile and as the diamond-flamed crescent moon slowly dances into view, the sky kisses poetry and places the stars in your eyes.

  ~ ~ ~


watching sunsets has become a habit now, partly because i love that time of evening when everything seems to fall into place and the sun seems to tell me i’ve done well for the day, but also partly because you remind me of them.

breathtakingly beautiful and calm, golden and warm, but also something i can’t make stay, something i acknowledge every new day, but have to say goodbye to for more times than i want.

you remind me of the sunset in a bittersweet way, and although it aches my heart bidding goodbye every day, i still eagerly wait for each new evening, just to experience it time and time again.

 ~ ~ ~


you told me you liked the dawn because i reminded you of it, because i was the luster in your overcast sky.

you said that to me two weeks after we met, a little too soon for such words. i thought maybe we were just different, maybe you were the type to take things at a relatively faster pace than i did.

so I thought of what i’d say to you someday, that would have as deep an impact on you as your words had on me.

romance, love, the sugar-coated words were never my forte so i looked up quotes online, all of which were too cheesy and corny for my liking. i never found one i liked, mostly because it didn’t feel quite right to use other people’s words to express myself, and also because they never conveyed my feelings towards you.

but i couldn’t construct my own. my dictionary didn’t contain much words for these kinds of scenarios so i came to the conclusion that i’d wait, and just settle to listening to you talk and talk while i admire the amount of words you have in your dictionary. i was okay with that, since i liked watching you and hearing your voice.

but maybe i waited too long to find my own voice that you grew impatient. you left as quickly as it took for you to say that i was your dawn, and just as surprised as i was then, i felt the same when you went out the door.

now it’s been months, and i’ve finally found the words i wanted to say, although now they would be unheard.

you were my dawn too, as much as you are my dusk now. you were like the first ray of light that brought along hope and every lovely thing i can imagine, and i was in love with the warmth that you bore. now you are also the darkness in which all of that sunk into, completely dissolving the blaze you brought into my heart.

~ ~ ~ 

but how will i ever be good enough for myself?

my mother tells me i’m beautiful and my father says he’s proud of me. but how will i ever stop magnifying the flaws stitched onto my skin and the shortcomings rooted deep within me?

~ ~ ~


rinsangi 
is all of seventeen and still in school. Daughter of a father who also writes poetry, she says she was inspired to start writing at a very young age, and in December 2020, came out with a little collection of prose poetry titled crimson. Like rdp, she also prefers to write in the lowercase. Her writing is often lushly descriptive, perhaps because it is partly prose while still being clearly more poetic than prosy. She loves Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, and hopes to fulfill her grandfather's wish that she become a missionary some day.

We can definitely see a bright writing future ahead for this precocious young talent.

 

 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Poems - rdp

 A Woman's Language in a Man's World

"friendly men, smiling men
monsters my father's age,
they walk in broad daylight
and cast their shadows in my way,
they smile and say only good things
though their eyes and limbs leave me scared.
i thought then compliments were paid
in whistles and hands brushing my back,
a child's language does not know
how to say No to men her father's age

boys will be boys as i heard them say
and i am just a girl as they also said,
and the language of a good girl is silence
wear pretty skirts and tie your hair back,
this is a man's world. watch and learn
and remember the language.
when boys come pulling at your ponytail,
when men come pulling at your pretty dress
remember the language.
you carry on you parts
that make you a woman
and they carry with them
eyes that see what makes you woman,
what can be done
this is a man's world

a good woman speaks the language
of silence, of listening, of nodding head
of closing eyes and walking quietly on.
when a man speaks his language
loud, harsh, eyes roaming your skin
speak your language.
and i speak my language
the one you taught me
i speak it as loud as i can
but nobody listens
because nobody understands
the language of a woman in distress
this is a man's world"

 

 The Year 2020


"'it was the best of times
it was the worst of times”
a year of empty streets and undecorated winter,
a year of oversleep and overthought
a dreary odd year
with few days and so many nights
a year without proportion,
of disorder and delay

it was a year of making ends meet, of trying
to make things look better than they are,
a year of learning to change and
to be the same all at once
a tough long year of tolerance, of understanding
of learning to accept a half-opened door
and a nod instead of a handshake

it was a year of learning to be still
in a speeding wagon,
to hold onto whatever bars and hooks we find
it was a year of taking a step back,
to learn to watch and love from a distance
it was a year of rest and reflection
of risk and reminiscence.
and most bitter, most sweet
shall be the tales we tell
of the best of times
and the worst of times"


My Funeral

"i am not scared of death, but i am nervous being the only dead person in the room
what are these people going to say about me?
what do they remember of my unhappy life?

my kind teacher says, 'she was an extraordinary individual'
thank you but i was not, except around my wrists where i think i stand out because they survived all the cuts, until they didn't of course.

my generous neighbour says, 'she was an angel'. oh but you should have seen my soul.

my old grandfather says, 'she was a tough one.' but grandpa, didn't anyone tell you how i died?

my sweet friend says, 'she was my rock.' but i got crushed by the weight of all the air i breathed.

then comes you and you say to me, 'i know you don't like flowers too well,
but they're all i can give you now i'm  afraid'

ladies and gentlemen gathered here today
now you know i was the unhappiest person alive
and i apologise that this is how you find out
but my blood was blue right from the start
and it didn't grow any brighter
the world is not to blame
the world is beautiful and you all are too
even dressed all black and tears in your eyes
you still look so lovely to me
and this is what i will picture when i think of life
and i know it is too late to change my mind
but if i may make one last amend...
Oh world, I am the happiest person dead."


Rodingpuii, or rdp as she signs her name on every poem she posts on her very popular Instagram page (rdp_ralte), was my neighbour for almost 20 years. In all the time that she grew up from a little girl to a young adult, I had absolutely no idea that she wrote, and so prolifically at that, until the middle of last year. Ironically, just a few months after I found out, her family moved away.

rdp has published a collection of poems titled Secondhand Scars (2018) and appears to be one of the most promising writers of her generation. It may also be noted that somewhat like e.e. cummings, she tends to write mostly in the lowercase, with an irregular use of punctuation. She is presently doing her MA in English Literature at Pondicherry. 


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Poems - Chawnga

What Ails You?

I want to know what helps you sleep at night. Of little disputes, light grazes or even emotional mortal wounds that we have to deal with every so often, deep cuts just heal
too slow but maybe for a cause; the value of trusting and the price of betrayal.
Something that shapes us now, everything we’ve experienced, individually or
collectively.

I want to know so much more. Tell me what ails you?

I’m glad we met, and I hope you never forget me. Even if you leave me.
I’ve learnt you can’t expect everyone to be there, all the time.

People need space to grow. To think. To romanticize;
to overthink, to act recklessly, spontaneously.
A double-edged process in which it’s your choice and mine collectively;
The existence of our bond and our meaning lies in each of us.
And I do hope, through it all that you always find meaning in us.

Something superficial, love, like justice and law – they are crucial cogs in the
collective understanding which we have built up, stories that we have told ourselves,
stories in the civilization that has been the product of human constructs, which have
no meaning without us humans interpreting those stories.

To find meaning in this small speck, a fraction of existence we get to savour.

Tell me again, what ails you?



An Open Letter to Us

Hey you,

You just went off the radar. I was worried.

I mean, I should worry; friends who have supported me through my trivialities. Even the smallest scratch gets diagnosed, yet still the friends who get to peek off the deepest wounds life had inflicted. And each has their time, you can’t expect everyone to be there all the time.

As long as they’re alive, the ones who understand will always be open for reconciliation and confrontation.

Do trust others, but also do not be naive; trust accordingly.
You’re too smart for your own good, the self-conscious person that I admire for your strength and vulnerability.

The moments shaped us, like a young nation starting to build itself. All craving for meaning and dreading the life un-lived.

My friend, I have trusted you with honesty and myself. I do hope I’m sometimes useful or amusing but always the one you trust.

Loyalty, I won’t ask of you; for our views may have conflicts, better confronted than silently alit. I won’t ask you to compromise your “Self” for something as vain and selfish. I continue to ask for honesty and communication, be it in any volume at any bulk of time you have limited for you.

Our conflicts and confrontation will be the ones weaving our experience.

Comrade, rest well, for we have the world to confront and most importantly ourselves.

 


Chawnga (Chawngthanmawia) calls himself a young radical who was involved in the Darjeeling Insurgency as a schoolboy. He says he has been influenced by the writings of Rosa Luxemburg and Bhagat Singh, to name a couple, and is convinced that writing has the power to influence history. Despite claiming to be a pessimist, he hopes to work towards helping humanity in some way and to make a ripple with long lasting effect if only for just one person.

He is currently a college student in Aizawl.


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A Letter and an Apology & Small City of Small Wonders - Candle Vanrempuii

 A Letter and an Apology

Today I found a letter you wrote in an old notebook of mine.

It broke my heart just picturing you write it alone at night, in the room we used to share, while I was away.

It was a resignation letter addressed to the owner of Genesis.

You wrote about how your health has been an ongoing problem for you and I'm pretty sure you meant your mental health.

You wrote about how you needed to take more days off than the 12 days Casual Leave you are allowed to take a year.

You wrote about how you've caused a great inconvenience for your colleagues and how it was unfair for them.

You thanked your employer for having helped you in your professional life and personal life.

You thanked everyone there for welcoming you to be part of their family and how much you've learnt not only as a laboratory technician but also as a person.

I picture you writing all these things.

I picture you alone.

Scared.

At night.

Scribbling down a resignation letter you would not send.

I wish I had been there

To tell you you're not alone and that we will deal with your health issues together.

To tell you you've made a grammatical mistake here and there.

To hold you and tell you everything will be alright and that I have got you and you need not be scared.

I would've written a better letter than that -

one that isn't as humble or as thankful.

I'm so sorry I didn't.

 

 

Small City of Small Wonders

 I live in a city which is often taken for granted and criticised for quite a lot of things.

A city which always seems to be hated for what there is to hate and never seems to be loved for what there is to love.

This is a city where -

I see the bus stop sign lean on a middle aged beggar who has quarrels with a supposed friend we cannot see.

I see an old lady who sits on a plastic chair on a public step sunbathing

Her hair shining  like silver against the winter sunlight.

I see an old man who wears an awkward little hat the looks of which he pulls off anyway, most probably owing to age

Whom I told I fancied his fashion sense that one time I had the chance.

I see a determined old man who irons every single paper money he receives from his small ei chawp dawr¹

I see successful old men marry young beautiful women and be criticised for doing so

Just as I see successful old women marry their young handsome drivers and be criticised for the same

But I have also seen both overcome the criticisms and build beautiful families.

I see old men with whom we can share taxi cabs give away handshakes at the time of a pandemic as blessings to youngsters that educate them on it.

I see educated and well intentioned men love this land so much so that they squander their entire life earnings to become politicians for the people and fail, my grandfather was one of them;

And I also see corrupt men rich with dirty money and a mouthful of shit successfully become politicians for the people.

I see a person tell me I will outgrow writing about love with age and I see myself outgrowing that person instead.

This is a city where -

There is a man who has written the entire English Dictionary by hand because he couldn't afford one and he happens to be my uncle.

There is another man who has not only read the Bible but written It in Its entirety again by hand and he also happens to be another uncle.

There are people who read their Bibles in the secrecy and sanctity of their bedrooms without people having the slightest hint.

There are kind old ladies- mother to local artists like tailors and musicians who do not know what further to do with their talents- who shopkeep for their daughters while they're in labour and their sons while they're away. These kind old ladies have mean negotiations with other kind old ladies and agree on a price that makes the two of them smile, my grandmother was also one of both.

Gardening is not yet a profession

and there are people like myself who love that it isn't because it means that every single flower or plant or shrub you see within this city are either planted and nurtured by hands that love them

or that they are strong enough to withstand the world and its cruelties on their own and that they beat the odds that so often are not in the favour of us all.

This is the city that mourns and cries with a single voice in chorus for a man who lost his life to the love of his life in the blink of four innocent eyes and he also happens to be another uncle of mine.

No October sunsets are as beautiful as the ones in the city of Aizawl and this is coming from a person who has not even been to every state and UT in India.

It has taken me 22 years to realise that there will never be October sunsets as beautiful as the ones in this city no matter how many states or countries I go to.

This is a city often taken for granted.

This small city of small wonders.

If there ever is a place where the god of small things lives

and survives

I am convinced it is in this small city of small wonders.

So often taken for granted

It's no surprise that so many of us take after you.

But in you I see what there is to love and what there is to hate but I chose to love you for whatever there is to love.

You choose to do the same and you choose to be my home.

And I choose to be the same.

And I hope one day we find a person who looks at us and sees in us what I see in you now that I've turned 22.


¹ a grocery


Candle Vanrempuii has been off the poetry writing grid for some time since bringing out her first book Evermore two years ago. We're really happy to have her back with these two new poems written in her inimitable first person narrative style that draws you in and makes you feel like a confidant to her deepest thoughts and observations.