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Dona Mayoora

A Drop of Ink

Translated by Ra Sh

EncagedKanchan Chander, “Encaged”, 1981. Etching and aquatint

The kids who went
To school and college
From our home
Never returned.

Only when those who
Had the power to be unseen
Came back, we knew of it.

People at home never knew.
They were in a metal cage
Named Waiting.
The world cannot melt
Patient metal.

The people in the locality
didn’t know.
The teachers
didn’t know.
They had created
an invisible world
And caged themselves in it.

One of their classmates
Came home.
The blood
dripping from his soles
Had reddened the flowers
On the way.

We two and the cat
Whose tongue was removed
Because of cancer
Had identified some people
Who kneaded colours
under their foot
And turned them dark.

A knock came in the night.
Four people,
well built hunks,
Came in.

We hadn’t had a morsel
For three days.
But, the blood shot eyes
Did not ask us about leaflets.
Asked us point blank
Whether we were terrorists.

The cat growled
and the absence of a tongue
Did not inhibit
The growth of claws.

Keep mum… keep mum…
A voice buried inside
Reached the sixth sense
Of the cat and echoed back.

The four
screwed up their eye brows
At the painting on the wall.

Eyes fixed on the painting,
They asked if I was a Muslim.

I replied that
Many took me for a Christian
Because of my name.

All seven of us were irritated.
They four got annoyed
That these days
One couldn’t
guess the caste or creed
From the name.

They eyed our complexion
And asked about our castes.

In turn, we got annoyed.
We knew they would feel repulsed
If we revealed it to them.

The fur of the cat
That went into their bellies
Had started its work.

Their index fingers
Curled around the triggers.

The shot
Made a neat hole
On the wall.

A sliver from it
Flew to the table top.

From a crack in the ink-pot
Red ink flowed
Spreading on the table
Soaking the paper
On which was written
That ink is thicker than blood
And refusing to dry up
Kissed the floor
And pooled in
the image of a human being.

The third day,
We came back with the kids.

The fourth day after our return
Was God’s seventh day.

God who was taking rest
Hid in the sheet of paper
On which a kid
Was writing an essay
On Creation.

Godmen formed a row
Of guards.

We spread on it as ink.

Read the Malayalam original here.