Theatre Report

This is a translation of Yumlembam Ibomcha’s Manipuri poem, Theatre-gi Report from an anthology of poems by ten Manipiuri poets, Atoppa Khonjel: Manipuri Seirenggi Khomjinba Lairik (The Other Voice: A Collection of Manipuri Poems), which was published by the Naharol Sahitya Premi Samiti in 1975

The other day
In front of the Usha Talkies
The lifeless helloi* was standing
Unaware of her nakedness, nonchalantly
Impassive of your presence
In front of everybody around

Mad Madhab
Whistling ceaselessly
He yelled unendingly:
‘Civilisation! Civilisation!’

And the sensible-looking young man
—the bald young man, around-the-clock
He was winding his watch
Never knowing its coil was broken

The girl at the theatre
The doe-eyed dame
And a bit terrified
        Oh, yes, she was pretty!
        Oh, yes!
        Such a heartbreaker!
Someone had said:
        Why be afraid
        Cool down

And from the beginning the hero
He was tolling the bell
Sweating and incessantly
But there was no sound
Not even a whimper
And he looked determine
If only he could, at least once
Make a banging sound on the bell
Blaring in the ears of the audience
It was eerily mute
And he wailed why
He wailed again why.

And shot back the bald young man:   
    —I have been also winding my watch
    But it is never working
    Never it does!

Translation note:

Usha Talkies: a cinema in Paona Bazar, Imphal
helloi: a fairy in Manipuri mythology



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