The Song of the Children

A translation of Thangjam Ibopishak’s Angang-gi Eesei, which was originally published in the collection Drópadi, in Nov 2010

Mother, mother, give me some bullets
Let me play; let me play with them as marbles
My friend Subol is here, Mangal is here, so is Santi
Nando’s son Kanhai is also here
—Give me some bullets
Let me practise how precise I can shoot;
How my friends and I can precisely shoot

Mother, mother, give me a hand grenade
Let me play with it as a football
Please, let me kick it, tackle it, dribble it with my friends
My friend Subol is here, Nityai is also here, so is Madhusudhan
Yaifaba is here and so is Chinglemba.

Mother, if I made a revolver out of my pen
—From its barrel, on the rear side of your head
If your hair is knotted and I finish the maths assignment
If I wrote the answers on my father’s chest
With the front side of the AK47
If I wrote with the blood as the ink
Will you laugh like an insane person?
—As you fold your eyes in surprise
My father would really be so delighted.

Mother, have been these body-less heads on sale in the market?
In lieu of, or, just like those bottle gourds and tomatoes and chayotes
Ah! those gourds and chayotes and luffas
All these heaps of taros and aroids
All these layers of dry chillies and the fresh chillies
Do all these of these come out from different organs of our bodies?

Were they collected from the streets and the fields?
Are there layers of blood—
On the skins of the tomatoes and the vegetables?
Are the prices reasonable in the Ima Kiethel today?
Are the prices of the chillies and the rice and the spices and the oils
—The same as the price of a human being?

Mother, mother, don’t rush—truth be told
It’s just as the tenderness of the lotus
Pay heed to the path you are treading on
But again: what are the affordable items on sale today?
—Please see; watch and go by the road that takes you home
 Mother, mother, don’t rush
Your lotus-like feet can get diseases
Slow down and go by the rules
Do slowdown and look up once in a while
The streets are filled with bullets and cartridges
See the most sophisticated silver-laden cartridges
Piled up into a wall of pride

Go, go, my friend, go Subol; go away Syam
All of you must leave
Let’s just bring these conflicts to an end
Go, go, my friend, go Subol; go away Syam
Let’s finish this festival of war
I’m fed up of the game
And the day is getting darker this evening
Your mothers are calling for you,
Go, buddy, go!



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