Hemant Divate is a Marathi poet editor, publisher and translator. He is the author of six poetry collections in Marathi. Poetrywala has recently published his Selected Poems 1990-2015 (in English translation) and Reloaded (in the original Marathi). He has a book each in Spanish, Irish, Arabic, German and Estonian apart from four in English. His poems have also been translated and published into French, Italian, Serbian, Russian, Slovak, Irish, Arabic, Japanese, Persian, Maltese, Slovenian, Greek, Hindi and many Indian languages. He is the founder-editor of the prestigious Marathi little magazine Abhidhanantar, which saw uninterrupted publication for 18 years. Abhidhanantar has been credited for providing a solid platform to new poets and for enriching the post-nineties Marathi literary scene. His publishing house, Paperwall Media & Publishing, has published (under its Poetrywala imprint) more than 100 poetry collections. He has won several prominent awards, including the Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad Award (Kolkata, India), Maharashtra Foundation Award (USA) and Aksharrang Lokmat Award. Hemant has presented his poetry in many national and international poetry and literature festivals in Europe, Latin America and Asia. His first book of poems in Marathi, Chautishiparyantchya Kavita appeared as Virus Alert (2003) in English translation. This book of poems has also been translated into Spanish and published as Alarma de Virus, and in Irish, as FolŠireamh VŪris. His other two books in Marathi have also been translated into English. Hemant has recently published his selected poems in Marathi and in English translation to coincide with 25 years of writing poetry. He has also translated many poets through English into Marathi, some of which have been anthologized and published in book form. He is also a founder of Mumbai Poetry Festival. Hemant lives and works in Mumbai. These poems are translated by Sarabjeet Garcha.

1) A Depressingly Monotonous Landscape
for Hiranya

How did the landscape in my mind
flow into my daughterís mind?
Right here in front of me is an expanse of
buildings, shopping malls, highways, factories and traffic
and if I tell her to sketch a landscape
she draws sunsets
a flowing river, trees, fields, shrines
draws birds which look like scrawled numbers
in my tiny, overcast skies
Never seen
from the seamless forest of this city
the sunset beyond the house in my mind
the river, trees, paths, temples, birds, footways
Yet how did these
stream into her mind?

By the time she understands
this picture of my childhood
which has flowed away
and the answer
to Why she draws exactly like this?
will all the paintings by everyone in this world
have melted away? Or will they remain
trapped in their silence?


Like me, she gets nightmares
of headless people carrying
the corpses of orphaned villages
into the cemeteries of cities
or ferrying frightful landscapes of cities
only to superimpose them on the erased villages
The same, the very same landscape
encloses within itself
all the headless people
All, all cities have the same name
the same streets, same buildings, same shopping malls
all are transfixed in the same predefined places
like a regiment standing ready to march
She moves along paths with
the same name, same colours
same smells, same forms
same faces as though clones of themselves
and at the same deceptive crossroads
she reaches the same statue
No matter where she flees
the same statue confronts her again and again
and she arrives at the same landscapes
of the same cities
with no signs or landmarks to guide her
In the same places
she sees the same people
speaking the same language
and with same shapes
same gestures
standing in queues of the same length
in the very same manner
going to the same stations
driving the same vehicles
at the same speed
in the same direction
at the same time
passing by the same trees
of the same height
of the same kind
separated in the same way
by the same dividers
on the same road
The same people
are tattered
the same way
by the same bombs
and lie scattered the same way
petrified the same way
broken the same way
In the same monotonous manner
on any channel on any TV
flash the same misery-multiplying pictures
totally monotonous
depressingly monotonous
totally depressing
She dips, dips and collapses
sees my same terrified, depressed face
at the last moment, when she lets go of
her tight grip on my hand in the crowd
and just like me
she too flows away into
the gigantic, self-destructive flood
of headless people
I dream the very dream she is dreaming
at the same moment
I too see her petrified, depressed face
see the terror
and shudder
I forget to carry village to city and city to village
and reach here
reach where?

2) Something about This Shore for the Poet of the
Shore Beyond

for Dilip Chitre

From the plateau of a raucous language
you kept pushing
the god of your gaunt letters
You didnít tire
In your innermost mind
you heaved
How sad
are the colours of vegetables
when their greenness is uprooted
Colour doesnít remain colour
Only the tearful sobs of blue and dusky
proteins and carbohydrates are left
You could pull so many tricks
From a Bombay duckís heart
you could make a tune
You could sound a whistle
from okra stew
From the pressure cookerís kicked-out steam
you would conjure up opium balls
From yourself you would make abeer-gulal appear
You loved the yellow in green
the white in black
the sky blue in coppery
the crimson in blue
the carmine in purple

Hypnotic and free of colour, youíd meet
and lie deeply spread
like the Buddha
beyond the leisure of visits
Holding language rhythmically you zipped away
Like the devotee Prahlad you nursed language
In the tongue of the deaf and the dumb
you wrote your Dravidian purana
wrote the song of the summit
In the minute crevice of language
you thrust your chubby finger
You are neither my granddad nor my great-granddad
neither father nor brother nor uncle nor some other kin
Measuring the shore-to-shore expanse up to this moment
why do you recline in my mind?
Are the Dyaneshwar and Tukaram resting on your shoulders mine?
Is the primal jagar bubbling briskly on your forehead mine?
Mine is the darkness percolating through
the clouds of your flimsy vest
The flatulent doubt dangling from your
croaking, bloated stomach is known to me
I know the black brightness under
your unfathomable eyes
I am familiar with the sluggish
Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
who lived frolicking beneath your moustache
Out of what bond did you share with me
the DNA struggling for a language?
Out of what relationship did you share
your secret encyclopaedia?
From beyond the shore of madness
why do you call only me by waving your hands?
Having reached the dead end why do you love me?
Iíll get crushed under your loving shadow
Iíll get trampled under your cries that come from beyond madness
I donít want the feel of your cries
I donít want the endless tangles of your language
I donít want the secret god of your language
I donít want anything, anything from you
Iíll see the end of my language in my language
Iíll live or die
in the language even beyond my madness
You took the liberty of
fondling the breasts of language
At times you touched her straightaway violated her
Scandalized I watched your futt video
but didnít get engrossed
I too have experienced the genital beauty of language
and the forest spread over miles and miles
I am angry angry with you angry
You shared everything with me
but vanished silently
You went away quietly after reading your own poem
but didnít wait to listen to mine!

3) A Slight Gleam of Very Feeble Light

For so many years Iíve been opening these doors
A slight gleam of very feeble light
comes piercing through the door opposite me
I open door after door and enter
Still a slight gleam of very feeble light
comes piercing the door facing me
One after another after another
I open doors rapidly
For so many years Iíve been
whizzing by
Still a slight gleam of very feeble light
comes piercing the door facing me
I run, run, run
Iíve been frantically opening door upon door
slit by miniscule slit
for so many years
The doors just donít end, not even slightly
nor even the very slight gaps
nor even the running
At a whizzing distance
thereís me
thereís me opening the doors
and thereís the feeble light before me
I am opening doors
I am running
opening doors
the same weak light still comes piercing through
I donít stop
the doors donít stop opening
the feeble light doesnít stop
nobody can stop
Everyone is running
Nobody really knows that
just nobody can stop
the doors that open and close rapidly
and thereís no time to think in the meantime
that for so many years
weíve been frantically closing
the doors from which comes
the slight feeble gleam of light
and now on the shore beyond
itís impossible to tell
whether we are feverishly opening doors
or closing them
Our mind repeats
the primordial Ďwell of deathí show
of unstoppable action
while playing the death of the well
We are turning the earth
into a well of death
We dig, dig and dig with
a mortal lamentation
as if we are digging at death
Weíve pasted a statutory warning
to our lamentation
which we ignite with an incense stick
like a bombís wick
and flee


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