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Manipur Blues

These three poems are translated from
Jimmy Thokchom's Manipuri poems.
He blogs at the
Silent Whisper

Manipur Blues
The puppy image by George Hodan,
from Public Domain Pictures

Goverment: An Ode to the Officers


There was once a dog called Goverment
Such a dog, always it was dazed and confused,
It gulped the wastes from each household
It never ignored any household
Such a wild animal it scattered the filth everywhere
Loyalty be cursed, it was held in scorn—such contempt
All the punishment for mischief was more lenient than the last,
But it did know how to put up, faking be blessed
It faked to such degrees—such a shameless creature
And such disregard; we knew it from its mating season
Such filth, such foul smell;
And we knew it did not know how it was
And we knew it was a fake, how it can fake,
But it faked not where it took shelter
in the drinking den
in the gambling place
in the gossip house;

One fateful day, on the frying pan Goverment was roasted
Each piece was chopped into several small and similar sizes
And then no one but the government officials gulped and burped,

It was a revelation we found
The suited and booted gentlemen were more miserable.

Manipur Blues

Manipur on Sale

For 250 bucks I have bought Manipur
For decoration I have kept it in my room
For the pieces of land's sake, entirely I examine them

And I check the pieces of land
And I search the stones, the pieces from the Koubru
And I have as well to find the location

What would they think?
—Myanmar, Mizoram, Assam, Nagaland
What would they think about Manipur?

Now I have some visitors
And they want to buy a few parts of the land
For one hundred bucks' quite a bargain, if not more

Should I take the money?
Tell me—should I sell the parts; with the money
Should I buy tampons for my girl?



Manipur Blues

In Condom Kingdom

I'm not afraid

of HIVs
of AIDS
As I wear condoms on my mind

For he used no condoms
Pamheiba became Garibniwaz

All the artists give a rat's ass about condoms
So they kick the pena

So in their veins, now runs the blood
of tablas
of sitars
of flutes

The Manipuri films wear no condom
No wonder it is conceiving South Indian films

When all the leaders have forgotten the condoms
We have been indulging in unproctected mass orgy

I wear condoms on my eyes
I wear condoms on my ears
I wear condoms on my nose
I wear condoms on my lips
All's condoms; condom's all


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Translation note

Goverment: A Manipurised version of Government. It is mainly pronounced as gorment or slightly more nuanced as gobbermen.  In the native language, it is known as Leingakpa: from Lei, a shortened form of leibaak, meaning land, and Ngakpa, which stands for protection/protecter.) Now it is more interested in protecting individual family members and personal properties.

The Koubru: A tall mountain range in Manipur, known for trekking and religious activities. There is a folk saying that our civilization started from this mountain, when the entire valley was still under the Loktak lake. Twice a year, the natives scale this mountain for adventure and divine offerings.

Pena: A bowed-string instrument, used widely in Meitei folk music and even more, of late, in pop music. It has a bow and strings, both of them made from wisps of horse hairs.
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