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Slumber
I am now deep in silent sleep.
Like a child suckling, nestled at its mother’s breast,
Like a tired face buried deep in the beloved’s tresses.
Yet my thoughts, my anxieties haunt me even in slumber.
Now and here, like our blood and our indifference,
My sleep and myself run crimson through our hearts.
Our learned intelligentsia
Parrot the taught words from within the party-cage,
In many of my words the tune of sleep echoes.
As the coronet of power, pride and wealth
Fits well on the ministerial heads,
My sleep sits on my head as a golden crown,
Making me a king.
I traverse the hilly track.
The roadside shrubs lean onto the path.
The extremists tread and run over them.
Proud boots of security men also tread over them.
The corpses are carried along this road.
This dead face seems known.
Kutungla’s wife had assuaged her hunger
With boiled weeds and a marsh frog. She died.
Watuirai passed away of enteritis or dysentery.
And again, they say,
Someone has died in extremist shooting.
Somebody’s son has died in the crossfire
Between police and insurgents.
He was a customer of our bank, rather garrulous.
Had married a few days back.
Whenever he met me on the road he would ask
‘Where to?’
At first I used to reply –
Then ignored the question.
Why should I tell him where I’m going?
And how far do I know my own destination?
Am I really going someplace?
Or simply flooding the road with the glow of my crown?
Only my sleep knows. Sleep is my life.

My father does not approve this sleep of mine.
My mother gets irritated, my wife gets angry.
Yet there are some, who join the social festivals in earnest,
Casting a furtive look at my sleep and me.
They earn money at cockfights,
Sit by the stars and laugh out loud.
Here, slumber lies on my breast, caresses, kisses,
With face flushed in ecstasy.