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Three Poems by Lalnunsanga Ralte

By Lalnunsanga Ralte

August 15      

My mother once told me a story
Of when she was a little girl,
How the entire village huddled up inside a church,
When the bombs dropped.
And the surprise checking they endured
My grandmother would pick her up
And carry her on her back
Praying they would not rape mothers and children.

For the young men though,
There was no escape.
They were lined up,
Hung upside down
And whipped like dogs.
While their brothers ran into the forest
With bullets chasing them.
Like most mothers, she has not repeated the story,
Preferring to forget.
Scars are scars.
Digging them won’t make them disappear.

There has been amnesty since
An uneasy peace.
The young men who survived have now died
Resting uneasily in their graves.
They still await their brothers
Whose corpses are yet to be found.
Their spirits seethe in a (step-) mother’s denial.
Their sons still run,
Their daughters still afraid.
You may outrun a bullet
But you cannot outrun prejudice,
And ignorance.
The war rages on.

“What does an Indian look like?
An Indian looks like you, like me.”



Round and round the merry-go-round
A new government sits on the mound
Casting new-found powers, they put a bind
On all spirits except the holy kind
Perhaps too tired of the never-ending circus
The town’s most famous drunk has decided to leave us
How then should we mourn, for we must
Like he did Khuswant Singh, with whiskey, till dusk
Maybe we can go begging at army gates
And pray heaven and volunteers will forgive our states
And pray too that he will also forgive us all
For his words still keep us in thrall
How they rage like a furious dance
Inspiring, accusing, damning with such elegance
Now they will dance to stars in the sky
While time and government passes by.



China is a country neighbouring ours
It has the largest population in the world
It is a communist country
It has exotic foods and culture
It is where Jackie Chan comes from
This is mostly what we know
Just like you.
We do not know their national anthem
Nor can we speak their languages
Nor do we have any relatives out there
We do not know the nuances of their daily lives
Though we assume it not be too different from ours
We assume.
Just like you.
So when we’re asked about China,
When we’re told to go back to China
Think about this
And how we would feel
Just like you.

Lalnunsanga Ralte lives in Shillong, Meghalaya where he works as an Assistant Professor at Martin Luther Christian University. He is a member of the North East Writer’s Forum and has participated in various literary events. His poems have been published in various online magazines and anthologies. He was also part of the Poets Translating Poets project organised by the Goethe-Insitut, Mumbai and was invited to read his poems in a poetry festival in Germany.


For more stories, read Café Dissensus Everyday, the blog of Café Dissensus Magazine.

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