On the Last Day of the Earth in Imphal

A translation of Laishram Samarendra’s Imphalda Prithivigi Aroiba Numitta from the collection, Khul Amagi Wari, published in 1985. The best part of Samarendra’s poems is his Manipuri colloquial style but it is difficult to maintain it per se in this translation, only on account of my lack of expertise.

As earnestly we expected
This time is 100%ly sure; it is the end of the world
Let’s chant the text from the scripture
Let’s chant the text.

An Earth there will never ever be
Again there will never ever be, very soon
All the truth and all the reality and all the beauty
—All will be gone
All the artificial wonders and all the natural wonders,
Time is impartial and are we going to lose them all,
All the beautiful brooks and rivers and forests and lakes and flowers
All the beautiful cities and buildings and houses and the Taj Mahal
Every Shakespeare’s magical works, every Kalidas’ masterpieces;
Oh, it has been all futile and it is all nada and it is all going to end
Useless are those books and religion and truth and peace
Knowledge and science and Buddha and profound thoughts
All will be one and all the truth and all the falsehood will be gone
Purity and impurity and beauty and ugly
The world will be gone tomorrow.

My house, my drawing room
My sofa, my dining table
My terrace corridor, my garden
My lockers, refrigerators, stainless steel utensils
My bronze from Tanjore;

My Japanese camera, my bank balance
My wife, my kid, my son Tomba though he did nothing
My wife, my kid, my money, my bank balance

Just as the Japanese bombed and destroyed Imphal
Just as the fire that engulfed Imphal
Some people fled and some people, the rich people, did stayed on.

Now the inmates vandalise the prison
Stronger are the people who can destroy the Khwairamband market
A matter of do-or-die it is and why would I be afraid?

In black the smoke moves up from government offices
In the fire are the piles of cash books and registers and ledgers
The cashiers and the clerks has had a happy life
Only the fools are fooled and the poor becoming only poorer
And some people they flee from the engulfing smoke
And the others they fleece and last out, never contented.

Some people did not flee in the Seven Years’ Devastation!
Some people did not flee in the Japanese onslaught!
Now some people are not running away.

On this last day of the Earth!
The timid mortals put their shutter down and hide
The brave brethrens scamper for their lives in all direction
Everybody was in a whirlpool of motion
And the elected representatives appropriate the lands and shops,
The election losers run around and borrow from everybody
And they take grants and they take loans,
The scholars arrive with the big bags of books,
The poor snatch and loot and rob,
Hither and thither the people are running
Conscious of nothing, unconscious of their bare bodies
The people have nothing to do with each other
They don’t see each other; they’re not ashamed in front of each other,
The old man who has been running amok
A passing vehicle has ran him over
The shopkeepers laugh and enjoy the spectacle,
Four men assault a girl
The girl has been humiliated in front of everybody
There no one is, alas, to save her;
From north to south and south to north

From the east to the west;
The sun is setting soon—all we have is this one day
Let’s chant the text from the scripture
Let’s chant the text.




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