A digression from my usual preoccupation, was provided by a recent invite to talk about ‘being in the northeast’. I have been trying to talk about poetry for a long time, because, well, because I love poetry, I write poetry and I think it is because of poetry that I am still alive today. I can recite poetry at the drop of a hat, well.. especially my own, though I can also recite Sylvia Plath’s lines
So we could rave on, darling, you and I,
until the stars tick out a lullaby
Yes, I like lines like that too, though blood and thoughts of killing and being killed tops my list of favourite poems. I also like Irom’s lines
For born with lips, For endowed with thoughts/
How can I leave without protesting?
not the least because it was translated by me and of course the many poems which will be lost or not amenable to translation.
And all they ask me is to speak on how it feel. That too, will be lost in translation and yes, the feeling is lost in transition too, a transition I did more than a decade back. I tried to push my luck, “You, mean how does it feel to be a poet and coming from Manipur, you mean, how does that landscape inform my poetry?”. “Oh!, you write poetry? Had no idea.” No, no all we want to know is –How does it feeeel. So there again I am put in that pointless box and asked to think – Northeast vs India. I don’t even know what the term Northeast means. I am asked to think of the comments I get when I walk down the street and what will they do with that. “Nothing”, we just want an insider to talk about it. “So, you want to hear how bad it was and thats it?” and all these will be given a patient solemn hearing. Could I just recite a poetry which expresses all these? Hmmm “We will get back to you shortly”. Quite a considerable length of time shortly is.