Not Silent

Interview 

 

Shuddhashar: What is it that you strive to explore and convey through your poetry?

Saratchand Thiyam: In my poems, I always wanted to explore the inner beauty and peace loving nature of human life. And sometimes I felt deeply saddened to see the contemporary world filled with hatred, the sick mind, selfish nature, greed and ever hungry nature for political power, misunderstanding between different ethnic communities. Through my poems, I would like to convey that we are under the same sun and we share the same water to sustain life. The earth is becoming a global village. Life is too short to ponder over the hard realities and problems being faced by all of us. So instead of creating more problems, I would like the people of the world to open their heart and mind and embrace the new world of friendship and love.

 

Shuddhashar: How do you interpret the present world, and how have current events spurred you to write?

Saratchand Thiyam: The present world is filled with chaos and everything is tangled into the vortex of political conspiracies and endless greed. Gradually the capitalist economy is devouring the essence of human life and beauty of nature. I cannot stay silent witnessing the anarchy engulfing the globe. The endless armed conflict between ethnic minorities of the world and state force, the struggle for freedom and search for the meaning of democracy, the innocent victims living in the armed conflict states around the world and especially in the Indian state of Manipur spurred me to write on themes related with such issues and unsolved political dialogues.

 

Shuddhashar: What literary pieces – poetry, fiction or non-fiction – and writers have informed and inspired your own writing? How have they done so?

Saratchand Thiyam: I loved the poetries of Jayanta Mahaprata, the Indian poet and poetries of Pablo Neruda. I also got inspired by the poetries of Laishram Samarendra, a modern Manipuri poet who used powerful words through his satirical expression. Manipuri fiction writers like Nongthombam Kunjamohun, Khaidem Pramodini and M.K. Binodini’s writing also inspired me to take up travel writing. Their writings are filled with the love for their motherland and has universal in its appeal.

 

Shuddhashar: In what way do your personal identity and experiences shape your poetry?

Saratchand Thiyam: I published my first book of poetry when I was just 19 years old and the book is dedicated to my loving grandmother Thiyam Lairikmacha, a vendor of banana in Khwairamband Keithel, one of the biggest women’s market run only by women folk of the state of Manipur in India. Since college days, I got the opportunity to mingle with many writers of the state of Manipur and followed the footsteps of many renowned writers. The experienced I had since college days working among the writers community, the community work and my love for sports and other social welfare activities had inspired me to write poems, travel writing and also as a sports columnist.

 

Shuddhashar: How do you use structure, language and grammar to accentuate the message of your poetry? Do you subscribe to conventions or break them?

Saratchand Thiyam: I used language that are easily understandable and sometimes with alliterative lines to convey my thought and ideas more easily to the readers. In fact, language is the prime element of thought and vision in poetry. It can carry the soul of the poetry. Sometimes archaic Manipuri language

 

Shuddhashar: What is your opinion about the conflicts and solidarities between political poetry and the literary and artistic values of poetry?

Saratchand Thiyam: I think poetry connects to the heart and mind of the people and the audience if the themes and subject are truly related with the affairs of human life. When things are messed up in political environment and people suffered because of lack of vision and sacrifice on the side of the so called leaders of the people, the conflicts got triggered and many unsolved political issues emerges. And being a poet, I cannot remain as a silent spectator. So, I forcefully used words that can influence the thought process of the audience and readers to convey and rectify the mistakes in the society. It is very true that sometimes there are conflicts between political poetry and artistic value of poetry but I think it is interrelated. I used words that can give the poetic essence and at the same time convey a message delineating the contemporary society.

 

Shuddhashar: Does your poetry transcend national boundaries? Does it appeal to different nationalities or linguistic groups?

Saratchand Thiyam: Like other poets, I too feel the sufferings and sorrows of the people in war torn states, the life of those victims of terrorist attacks, the untold stories of the people in the armed conflict states. When I write about Africa, about the sufferings of the people of Kashmir and on themes for universal peace and friendship, I think it transcend the national boundaries. Because a poet like me always long to create universal brotherhood and spread the umbrella of peace across nations and religions. I think my poetries appeal to different nationalities and linguistic groups because it has universal appeal. Some of my poems got translated into Bangla and got published in Bangladesh. Many of poems have been translated into English and even in Hindi. I’m happy to say that some of poems also got translated into other languages of the states in India.

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Poems

Translated from Manipuri language:  Robin S Ngangom

 

Letter

Smiling teak trees stand

in the green hills

their necks dipping and rising.

 

Children holding a letter each

with their hands firmly

run among the dense teak trees

their feet shoeless

and their clothes scanty.

What’s been written pressed by pencil stubs,

is in that now completely filled scrap of paper

mother mother mother

many words that spell “mother”.

 

The teaks that grow shoulder to shoulder

play, by opening those letters

as if in a game of rugby

chasing, and wresting the letters

from the hands of the children.

 

The children lament

the children are anxious

the children weep

for their mothers’ letters they want to be delivered

for their letters’ message they’d like to be read.

 

Clutching their stomachs

they’ve come running quite far on these hill track,

starving, they are quite tired among these teaks

but those letters with unknown destinations

have not faded

or fallen from the children’s hands.

 

They are famished and malnourished

as they have not eaten for long,

their breath is laboured

as they have been running for long,

but their hands are still raised high,

they see their mothers in their eyes.

 

The teak trees which have read the letters

look compassionately at the little children

whose legs are now crossed together

while uttering the word “mother” on their lips

and clutching the letters with unknown destinations.

 

 

For the Dead

After creating bad blood between themselves

Mustering support, taking sides

They choose their ranks, provoking each other

 

They wage war

Hate each other to the hilt.

 

After killing one another

They learn to love finally.

They tend the wounded

Feed tasty dishes to prisoners of war.

 

Many cities many countries

Painstakingly built

Are reduced to cinders in a minute.

Then for the dead, gardens are created

Every season flowers are showered on them.

 

 

 

Africa

 Dry cracks.

 

The wide cracks on parched earth

Where many feet sank

Where many feet were broken.

 

Children running toward us

With kites flying

Fell into the cracks.

Vultures crows scattered

When they heard their crying voices.

 

Little grown-up girls

Keep on tearing the clothes they wear

And eat them up with relish.

At the aeroplanes overhead

They look up with yearning

Those who can’t move save their necks

Clutching their stomachs

Rows upon rows of enduring men

Wait for the dropping

Of either bombs or food packages.

 

Plucking their own ears and

Continuously chewing them

Savouring it

Young men

Stand in clusters

Around the cracks.

 

Many squeamish tongues

In countless numbers

Are torn and flung

Upon Africa’s vast surface.

The cracks will be filled up

With corpses.

 

 

Awaiting Return

 That mute

Stone statue waited every day

For my return.

 

Whenever I return

I am guarded protected all around

By night’s darkness.

 

Accosting that stone statue

I stood near it. I told it I have returned.

I tried to close those eyelids

Which had forgotten to close

Gazing at me always.

They refused.

 

The night’s darkness gave hints.

 

I’ve left that stone statue alone

So that it’ll wait for

My return from another trip.

 

 

Gun

Till today one hasn’t heard any hypnotic voice rising

when a gun is thrummed calmly and gently by index fingers.

Like one demented, smitten by a melody,

no one has ever been transfixed

except lifeless bodies lying around unconcerned.

The tens of thousands of bullets appearing

from the strumming of one index finger

heap layer upon layer on Charon’s boat-the dead.

If these guns were entrusted to Orpheus’ hand

will the innocent ones journey to Hades’ side?

 

 

Hill World

On the silently standing hill’s broad forehead

Grinds in play the forehead of clouds

Bending down from the sky.

 

The hill remains asleep though.

 

Boys and girls of the hill world

Are eating a picnic meal at the foothill

Dancing

Embracing the loud songs of a tape recorder.

 

One the hilltop’s broad helipad

When the helicopter lands roaring

The girls of the hill world who were bathing

Ran for their homes

Panting.

The hill remains asleep though.

 

Boys who wear chains made out of thread

Are playing hill-climbing.

 

The hill world’s mothers stand

Holding torches throughout the night

Facing the glaring lights of the power station.

 

The hill remains asleep though.

 

 

Journeyers

 Hands

Raised high

Disabled Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Beckon journeyers

Travelling afar

 

Afraid of going near

They left after presenting

A paper swan each to Sadako

Standing at the Peace Park

They flee

Running and springing

Towards Shangrila

One after the other

Without stopping

Whether Shangrila

Invited them or not

 

Even

The elongated Great Wall

Has been conquered

By the journeyers

 

The journeyers in turn

Have been subdued

By the sun and moon

Trudging without words

 

 

Kargil

The loud voices of bombs and cannons

Bullets sprayed by the thousands

For you is your pulse beating

Spreading all over your body.

 

Kargil you are indeed fortunate

Your sons leaping out bravely

Are trying to keep your your heart beating

So that you will not sleep on death’s bed.

 

These sharp bayonets

Marching with their tips pointed up

For you are your eye’s lashes

Indicating that you are alive.

 

The roads that reach you

Although covered by thick piles of snow

When sunlight pours down

Will turn into white pigeons beating wings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 thought on “Not Silent”

  1. Khongbantabam haridas

    I am very glad to acknowledge the hidden thoughts of the beloved poet from manipur, india. He is one of the inspirational person of many young people, specially young writers of Manipur.

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