Skip to content

What I Learned from Gandhi’s Autobiography 

Five poems by Prakalpa Ranjan Bhagawati

Translated into English by Ananda Bormudoi

The Cause

I found reasons enough not to write about you
And I didn’t write.

I found reasons not to argue in your favour
And I didn’t argue.

There were reasons not to pay you a visit
And so I didn’t visit you.

I found a cause not to die for you
And I didn’t lay down my life.

I found reasons not to support you
And I didn’t extend support.

With the causes between you and me
I have shaped a magic glass.
From my side everything is transparent
And you can never look through at me
From your side.


What I Learned from Gandhi’s Autobiography 

I looked for the father of the nation in Gandhi’s Autobiography
               And found Mohan
I looked for the half naked fakir
               And found Mohan
I looked for the Mahatma
               And found Mohan
I looked for myself
               And found Mohan
Because Mohan was not within me
The person who lent me the book
Asked me to re-read the book
And I did that
I found the father of the nation, naked fakir, the Mahatma and also myself.
By that time Mohan built a home within me.


An Anti-Poem 

Keeping the country for yourself
You gave us patriotism
That burns the body with restlessness
And ignites the mind.
But it’s no flame on the burner
To cook my meal.
It can burn only the country.
Keep this also to yourself
It might help in the election campaign.


The Warfront and a Poem 

A distressed poem accosted me and said, “You equipped me with gunpowder and sent me to the Warfront and are you not a timid poet to confine yourself in an air conditioned apartment?”

Arrogantly the poet answered, “I entrust on you the duty of welcoming the soldiers who have returned safely from the front and I am now going to the Warfront myself.” 



The young doctor gave a certificate with his signature and seal to the sixty five years old man stating that he was alive. The aged man himself submitted the certificate at the pension office. After receiving the medical certificate the office was convinced that the man was alive and the pension continued. The aged man was also convinced that he was certainly alive for some more days.

Prakalpa Ranjan Bhagawati is an Assamese poet, translator and writer. His latest work, a collection of poems titled Baladharohi Aru Anyanya Kabita (The Bullock Rider and Other Poems), was published in 2021. He is currently working as Publication Officer, Dibrugarh University, Assam.

Ananda Bormudoi is a literary critic, translator and retired Head of the English Department, Dibrugarh University, Assam.

Riyas Komu was born in 1971 in Kerala, and moved to Mumbai in 1992 to study literature. Dropping out during his final year, Komu eventually obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Fine Art from the Sir J. J. School of Art in 1997 and 1999 respectively. The artist’s oeuvre, spanning several different media and genres, is particularly noticed for its strong political overtones. His paintings, to put it in his own words, carry a protest symbol one way or the other.