Ten Poems from Soso Thamís first poetry collection Ka Duitara Ksiar

Pearls

Dew drops on the grass,
In the morning they glitter;
I too from home will depart
To hunt for these pearls.

From the grass that is green
They take off with the sun;
Like them then Iíll plunge
To an unknown region.

The thorns though they prick
In a faraway street;
From home Iíll depart
And return long after.

The heart too will grieve
Alone faraway;
The tears that gather
Are actually pearls.

Translated by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih

Stars

Look young men what lies ahead,
That you may tell which way to step;
Thereís a star that leads the way,
Alive the name the glory stays.

Make an effort like other men,
Work not only for your subsistence;
But also that you may ascend,
From the very rungs of fame.

Or to pile up only wealth,
And your boundaries to spread;
Because long they canít remain,
Like reputation and a name.

Though you maybe small and weak,
Quietly if you have to weep;
Who will say you cannot claim,
Glory and a name.

Fear not if you have to plod,
Through the fire or through blood;
Only brave men who are game,
May reach the mountaintops of fame.

Though the sun beats down on you,
Soon the cool breeze youíll taste too;
Itís in all thatís done diligently,
That it lurks immortal glory.

Translated by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih

The Green Grass

Quietly in the wood,
It grows among the weeds;
An uncommon blossom, u tiew dohmaw, *
A thing of lofty thoughts.

Quietly by shadowy streams,
To be a fragrance when faded,
The joy-giving fern
Remains green for twelve moons.

Tell me twilight, beloved of the gods,
And you the motley clouds;
Tell me where is that star
That first speckles the sky.

Quietly he lives, quietly he dies,
Amidst the wilderness;
Quietly in the grave let him rest,
Beneath the green, green grass.

*A wild flower, symbol of great wisdom.

Translated by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih


The Pine Tree

The sun beats down on me,
The wind lashes at me;
To the sky the branches spread
Through the earth the roots thread.

Alone I am the forest,
Though all alone I rise;
The thoughts are lofty,
That swirl inside me.

That every man is wise,
That who can deny;
Yet without a break,
How can he even speak.

Of a sudden a branch snaps,
All the town shivers;
It is only a paragon,
Who wins the love of all.

It is only in a paragon,
That lies the will that lasts;
You may fault him all you can,
But how will you root him out.

Like him I too must go,
Like a man mightily must I fall;
Look, children of the earth,
Like this Iím standing tall.


Translated by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih


The Days that Are Gone

I will go to ri 1 Sohra to be among the hills,
The land of u tiew sohkhah and u tiew pawang lum; 2
The land of ka sim pieng, the land of u kaitor, 3
The land of valour, the land of culture.

Listen, in ri Sohra, that Ôewbah 4 has arrived,
It resonates the cheering that the archery may be won!
It sinks into the caverns, from the sky too it creeps,
To a Khasi, a Pnar, a Bhoi, or a War. 5

Its cliff-edges too overflow without end,
With the torrent that roars, the breeze thatís tender;
And the heart thatís forever youthful hums in the woods,
Thus rumble the gorges of ri War and reverberate the boulders.

Long have I departed from relations and friends,
Though others have gone, others linger on;
Thus the honour of Sohra and its silver seas,
Once more, once more, came dazzling to me.

Thus the days that are gone, they surge and they surge,
I donít know the beginning or where they would end;
Only this I do know, that often I do wantó
Once more, once more to be a child.


1 Country. 2 Orchids. 3 Songbirds. 4 Big market day. 5 Names of the sub-tribes of the Khasis.


Translated by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih


Trot

Trot was one among the breed
Of dogs where dwelled a rarity:
He had a body, strong and healthy,
He was nimble as the breeze.

Among the weeds he stalked the weaver birds,
He ran after the swallows in the sky;
Into the forest he also charged,
In the water he swam and splashed.

The most beloved friend of Trot
A casual labourer:
A poor man; he persevered
For the children and his wife.

With him he skipped and danced;
At last the time arrived,
The master must depart from home,
And from his friends, his dearest ones.

And so he could not take his friend along.
To another realm:
Through chasms and inhospitable lands,
Alone he walked, all by himself.

The realm mysterious, it is that,
It is somewhere and everywhere;
The unknown there, the terrible,
It has no taboo, cares for none.

And from there, whosoever set foot in,
Young men or women;
Children, old ones, or infants,
They never did return.

And once they had crossed over,
One step into the edge;
They had no wish even for a fleeting look;
For nothing did they pine.

The world and its splendour,
The wealth that we treasure;
The youthful eye that loves all worldly things,
There they lose their meaning.
The eye of man would like to peer,
Into that deathly hush;
But the way to go there,
Is through the golden tears.

The agonizing mourning of man
Cannot find a resting stone;
They vanish the dirges that it moans
Into the wearying wastes.

So to the fore the master went,
Trot quietly by his side;
Behind his wife and weeping children,
Till the edge of a precipice.

What happened there, how he was mystified!
How else shall I describe;
Often he tried to plunge into the void,
Then to the house he fled.

He knew among them from then on,
Would cloak a darkness end to end;
That he tossed and whimpered restlessly,
The hearts turned to water completely.

Like others the days brightened,
Like others they would set;
Beneath the pines the master stretched,
Peacefully in the grave.

The swallow as always emerged,
From within the crevices;
But Trot alone he curled in grief,
Under the dripping porch.

The weaver bird and frisking deer
About the hills they ran:
Why wasnít Trot chasing them around!
Instead he slumbered in the grounds!

Other generations yet will come,
Their monuments they will raise;
Will someone here and there,
Recall the memory of Trot!
Soso Tham
Translated by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih
U Tiew Pathai 1

When I recall your memory,
To a distant world I flee;
For a lifetime shall I dwell in the wilds,
The land of fruits and plenty.

Like a mist-covered waterfall,
Hiding its features;
I too, to other years,
Alone with falling tears.

Time flies, scuttles in a hurry,
When in your company;
Never shall I forget now,
In other days than those.

Though you have sunk beneath the earth,
A thousand times you will emerge;
U tiew-pathai on soggy ground,
From a distance bequeaths its fragrance.


1 Literally a message-bearing flower, an orchid with a strong sweet scent.


Translated by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih


The Air Is Still Fragrant

As if from a vision I wakened,
When I had my first sight;
From the sun that was hot,
Alone how she sat;
Though I knew her not,
Or, what her name was;
It was in her that on earth
I sought a heaven.

Like the rose thatís hidden
In its own leaves;
That has its head bent,
In the air thatís fragrant;
I loved more than mother,
And sweet was the name;
It was with her that on earth,
I savoured a heaven.

During days that were clear,
When the breeze too was cool;
When the grass was still green,
And the flowers were swinging;
To the slopes and the shades,
We strolled and wandered;
A little away from people,
It was there the heaven.

The rose is still hidden
In its own leaves;
It still has its head bent,
And the air is still fragrant;
Though she has gone far away,
Together with her name;
To another world,
To another heaven.


Translated by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih

The Bird that Is Free

Just when I was falling asleep, from a land faraway
Once not so long I listened to a song;
It was all very clearó the melodious voice,
The only daughter who had crossed the divide.

Often I had walked the days dark with cloud;
Yet from the lap of nature I received afterwards
Days that are cool and the sky that is clear,
When tired, and down came the tears.

Often I had listened to the bee as it flew,
To the songbird too, as it folded its wings;
In the lap of nature that they hummed melodious:
Ecstatic my soul and lofty my thoughts.

Forever did I love the hills that were hushed,
Often too I had watched the stream;
As it quarried its pools and carried off the gravel,
Thus I returned to my home to finish off my tasks.

The bird is now free and it sings from the thorn:
Why should I mourn for days that have gone;
Iíll seek every time for the songs that are pure,
That are found everyday only in the fold of nature.


Translated by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih


The Cipher on the Stone

When still in my fatherís and motherís lap,
Though I survived on the herbs, the world yet was flat;
I bragged, I scorned, I daydreamed as a child;
I laughed, I cackled, to be good I could not.

When the river clamoured that it boiled without stop;
When I watched the grass that was green;
Like a hip-hopping bird inspecting itself, I enquired:
ďTell me o death, where do you live?Ē

Like a sturdy fruit tree that unfurled its branches,
When seasoned, and the thoughts had broadened;
That daydream later came to be seen,
As one of the ciphers etched on the stone.

The grass is now tanned that the river has ebbed,
It is then that I seeó a mysterious Something that it comes;
The tongue is now tied and I cannot open my mouth,
Sunken in deep thought that winter has arrived.


Translated by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih
 

Curtsy to Indian Literature 235 , Sahitya Akeademi's Bi- Monthly Journal , New Delhi

 

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