Advertisement
Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022
Outlook.com
Outlook.com

Verses From Mon | A Poet's Ode To The Victims Of Nagaland Firing

Beni Sumer Yanthan (Yanbeni ) is a poet and folklorist from Nagaland belonging to the Lotha-Naga and War-Jaintia tribe of Meghalaya. Her poetries illustrate deep anguish of AFSPA victims.

Verses From Mon | A Poet's Ode To The Victims Of Nagaland Firing
A placard representing people's protest against the brutal killing of 15 civilians in Nagaland's Oting village | Outlook Photos
Verses From Mon | A Poet's Ode To The Victims Of Nagaland Firing
outlookindia.com
2021-12-09T16:06:48+05:30

The recent killings of 15 civilians by security forces in Nagaland's Mon district has sparked  debate over the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), a draconian law that provides unshackled discretionary powers to the armed forces over civilians.

Here comes poet and folklorist Beni Sumer Yanthan (Yanbeni )'s tribute to the slain souls.  

"Oting" was written on an impulse. In my entire adult life, I had never personally seen so much collective sorrow, frustration, fear, helplessness and dread in Nagaland so perhaps writing this poem was in some way, an attempt to make sense of it, to provide some closure, to write an epitaph for the slain brothers of Oting.

Oting

Brother,
Your blood has drenched this earth
And soaked up our sins,
Your silent screams now hang above
This parched town
Where the mist gathers at dusk
To pay homage to your last moments.
Your body became the battlefield
Of a republic at war with itself,
Your song is now a bloodied dirge.

Know, in you passing, you have kindled
The fire in our revolutions,
Know, you have shaken
The poetry out of the mountains,
Know, into this night we go,
Smelling of coal and dust and blood
And splintered stories –
Into this new world with you.

Adult Vocabulary

Told to me in meritorious English,
With the dutiful appeal of bureaucratic elitism,
“Your husband’s name if you’re married,
Your father’s name if you’re unmarried”

Because I and my mother,
Thrown together,
Producers of sons and mutinous poetry
Have no identity of our own.

We are anonymous echoes
in a dynasty of sound,
gathering air in our lungs
to deaden our sobs.

We belong to men,
Whose blood and bones are sewn
Inside our wombs -
Like alphabets in a 2500 page verdict
Congealing to form a death sentence,
They own us in black and white.

Dimapur
Only in this town can you see the innards
of a city strewn about in empty Officer’s Choice bottles,
and the value of whores in a
top-up recharge.

In here, the night wraps itself
like a shroud across your body
and a pasture of broken glass
croaks an ancient lullaby.

The air sways to the rhythm of adolescents
who bark consequentially – Lawra!!
And lactating mothers circle the air with baby linen.
At 35C and rising.
Praise the Lord. It is the Lord’s will.

Nights sink inside a water colour of soiled silver.
Rhythmic clacking of fingers and keypads accompany
their tarnished glow.

They wax and wane until they enter
the dreams of tortured lovers and once there,
they take the guise of beautiful rhododendrons,
while the smell of burnt omelet moves between
the bumpers and the honks -
carrying the poet’s diagnosis

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

In happy times and sad, Habba Khatun’s sensuous songs make both young and old emotional. With the never-ending conflict bringing tragedies to every doorstep, Habba’s lyrics of separation amplify their mourning.

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

In India, only those relationships between a man and a woman are considered to be legitimate when there is a marriage between the two.

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Virat Kohli, 33, had recently stepped down as India's T20I captain and was subsequently removed as the ODI captain.

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

A Mahila Congress leader, who is the face of the ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon’ campaign, however, has accused the party of anti-women bias after she was denied a ticket.

Advertisement