सुदामा पांडेय 'धूमिल'

सुदामा पांडेय 'धूमिल'

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The City, Evening, and an Old Man: Me


I've taken the last  drag
and stubbed out my cigarette in the ashtray,
and now I'm a respectable man
with all the trappings of civility.

When I'm on vacation
I don't hate anyone.
I don't have  any protest march to join.
I've drunk all the liquor
in the bottle marked
FOR DEFENCE SERVICES ONLY
and thrown it away in the bathroom.
That's the sum total of my life.
(Like every good citizen
I draw the curtains across my windows
the moment I hear the air-raid siren.
These days it isn't the light outside
but the light inside that's dangerous.)

I haven't done a thing  to deserve
a statue whos unveiling
would make the wise  men of this city
waste a whole busy day.
I've been sitting in a corner of my dinner plate
and leading a very ordinary life.

What I inherited citizenship
in the neighborhood of a jail
and gentlemanliness
in front of a slaughter-house.
I've tied them both to my convenience
and taken  them two steps forward.
The municipal government has taught me
to  stay on the left side of the road.

(To  succeed in life you don't need
to read Dale Carnegie's book
but to understand traffic signs.)

Other than petty lies
I don't know the weight of a gun.
On the face of the traffic policeman
doing his drill in the square
I've always seen the map of democracy.

And now I don't have a single worry,
I  don't have to do a thing.
I've reached the stage in life
when files begin to close.
I'm sitting in my own chair on the veranda
without any qualms.
The sun's setting on the toe of my shoe.
A bugle's  blowing in the distance.
This is the time when the soldiers come back,
and the possessed city
is now slowly turning its madness
into windowpanes and lights.

(Translated from Hindi  by Vinay Dharwadker)