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Farid Mohammed Mansuri “Adil”

Eighteen War Poems and Bosnia Sequence

Translated by Gopika Jadeja

Photograph courtesy Githa Hariharan


Eighteen War Poems

To realise the dream of world peace
cover the sleeping metropolis
with a blanket of missiles


A soldier in fatigues
stares deep into the mirror
looking for his face


To wait each day with restless gaze
at an unknown military post
for a letter bearing
a familiar hand


Let me drink the last sip
of cola at the trenches
Let me swim across the mirage of death


In the rain of bomb fire
where did it suddenly flash from
the face of a wife asleep after childbirth


amid the urgent caravan of tanks
a lone camel
stands confused

A lost Bedouin
with a herd of camels
asks directions of a tank

looking for the marks of his lost camel’s feet
in the tracks of a tank
— an Arab


All engulfing sandstorm
A lost camel asks a tank
the way


A soldier atop a tank
stretches his arms high
trying to reach for some dates


A camel cries in the desert
How many soldiers
fell into this pit
in just a moment

A camel cries in the desert


Familiar with the sound of the azaan
the camel wriggles its ears
to decipher the blasts of a bomb


The camel has made its way
into the tent
The Arab will have to move out


Blood now flows
from oil wells
in the middle of the desert

The hungry thirsty camel
looking for an oasis
stumbles upon
a pool of blood
in the desert


Read the Gujarati original here.




Bosnia Sequence


Bosnia I 

The road to the hospital pants
in 60,000 empty stomachs.

Drenched in blood
each moment
each age
each body
each dream

In the chopped arms of a child
the bucket of water overflows
with blood
In this thick darkness
nothing makes sense
Not the road of return
Not the broken minaret
Not even the blood that smears
everything in sight
The sight that will be born
The country
that lies broken
in 60,000 empty stomachs


Bosnia II 

Darkness in all eyes
Silence on all lips
A city sinking slowly
into a quagmire of blood
A country disappearing from the map
A heap of dead bodies
in the ruins of time
Debris of arms
Pools of dried blood
Dreams of a rising sun
A sobbing prayer in every eye
The fear of hell
trembling on dry lips
Deep inside prayer halls
the pain of hopelessness
in all eyes
on all lips


Bosnia III

All walls, bullet riddled
All homes, ruins
Placing the severed head lying on the ground
Back on the neck, I think —
All thought is now futile
I stop my breath
Push my hands through the hollow
Between my ribs, searching
Who throbs here?
The hand goes through the back
With the severed arm fallen to the ground
I hold the head rolling down the neck

All walls, bullet ridden
All homes, ruins


Bosnia IV

Arms raised to the void in prayer
Severed from shoulders
Heads bowing to the earth
Severed from their necks
Through bullet-riddled breasts
The city burning
Smoke rising from the holes
Smothers all eyes
All dreams.


Read the Urdu original here.


Translator’s note: Thanks to Jayant Parmar and Ayaz Khan Babi for help in transcribing the Urdu to Devanagari.