The Wretched / Ashutosh Parida

Holding myself unto the chest, I’m here
when everyone has tied oneself unto
their self-conceit of many births—
adults and children look alike
when there’s no difference between
the king and the robber.

There’s no distance between the carcass
and the vulture, there’s no deluge of blessings
from the sky on the existent beliefs.

The venomous trees are taking birth
from the womb of the silent soil
I’m here with my mouth open to gulp
the poisons of the ancient world
I’m falling off like a stupefied word
amidst the organised crimes
I’m oozing like the blood at the time
when the mornings get martyred.

I’ve been unshackled from the influence
of all the planets and the stars
my coal-like face reaches all the
streets without oxygen
I’m sounding like the wind reflected at a cave
I’m getting inscribed like the footprints
marching ahead parting the night.

Here, I’m the final wish for a man
the hardest word of living;
when I speak—
bones are formed in the tongue
when I set my foot—the trees and forests sprout
I’m here knotting the blood holding myself unto the chest,
I’m here to feel pity for the wise
and the emperor after a sinless birth.

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 Bhubaneswar, India.

Translated from the Odia by Pitambar Naik

Pitambar Naikis 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.


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