for the Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines & his two minor sons Philip (aged 10) and
Timothy (aged 6) who were burnt alive in Manoharpur, Odisha in India by Hindu extremists in
On that night the forest would have danced holding the
the hands of a treacherous darkness
then with the drizzle of dews, the slumber
would’ve poured and all would’ve dozed—
trees, plants and men.
On that night, the devils would’ve shenanigans in a
snake’s burrow, a great demon would’ve chanted mantras
embalming the eyes with fire, stockpiling poison in the chest.
And a terror-filled winter night would’ve tremored
with a violent blow.
Who would’ve seen men being doused off—
the scene of the wriggling bodies of sinless children
being shattered by the teeth of the fire?
The next day, the sun would’ve darkened
in the exploded eyes of the morning,
the flora and fauna would’ve blackened,
the hearts would’ve been converted into charcoal;
there’d be nothing to see in the dry sclera of the eyes
in the dark night—-the past, present and
the future would’ve been burnt.
There wouldn’t have anything to answer neither to
men nor to endless time;
After all proceedings and promises
the Dhritarashtras* of the blind nation would be shedding
fictitious tears for the burnt bodies which were ablaze in the
The assassinating hate would be moving
from Hastina* to Varunabanta*
from Odisha to Gujarat and another heinous chronicle
would be written on the pages of the Mahabharata.
Ashutosh Parida (b. 1945) received his Ph. D from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
and worked as a scientist at CSIR-IMMT, Bhubaneswar. His deep interest in poetry has
established him as a committed writer in Odia literature. He has eleven collections of poems and
one book of essays to his credit. For his literary contribution, he has been conferred with several
awards and honours, including the Odisha Sahitya Academy Award, Bhanuji Rao Memorial
Award, Sachi Routray Kabita Samman, and Satyabadi Sahitya Samman among others. His
poems have been translated widely into English and many other Indian languages. He lives in
Translated from the Odia by Pitambar Naik
Pitambar Naik is an advertising professional. He’s a former editor/nonfiction reader for Mud
Season Review and Minute Magazine. His work appears or is forthcoming in The Notre Dame
Review, Packingtown Review, Ghost City Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Indian
Quarterly and elsewhere. He has a collection of poetry: The Anatomy of Solitude (Hawakal). He
grew up in Odisha and lives in Bangalore, India.
*Dhritarashtra, the blind king was the father of the Kauravas as described in the Mahabharata.
*Jatugriha was a conspiratorial house of wax in the Mahabharata to trap and burn down the
*Hastina is portrayed in the Mahabharata as the capital of the Kuru Kingdom.
*Varunabanta- the place where the wax house was built as per the Mahabharata.