Virus, Unanswered Questions and more…

By Manu Dash


The ocean is now equipped to endorse swimming.
It’s time to endure the ineluctable annual trip.
The sky mirrors the swashbuckling journey; 
Someone waiting for you at the end of the shore.
Lights will be clouded when you move avoiding the lighthouse;
Use your instinct always before the lullaby disowns its source.
Darkness and sea-storms area package, inclusive of Olive Ridley.
Ignorance will one day fall like baby teeth.
Leading the life of a peacenik is a terrible act.
Have you taken the cutlass with you?
Not necessary that you should use all the things you have;
Throw in everything during the missionary position.
Avoid sand dunes which are nothing but Homeric nods.

An Unanswered Question

The little boy asked his mother,
‘Who made our village river?’

Mother raised her face from
The homework and answered, ‘God’.

‘Has he made our village too?’
‘Yes’ said she.
 ‘Why the inequality in making
 Buildings, roads, and facilities?’

‘Ask these questions with God
When you grow older,’
Mother laughed.

The following year, the boy met God
When his school bus plunged into the river.
But no one knew if he raised the question
Before God. 

Obituary for an Artist

Did he outwalk
The barrage of dreams?

The shadow of helplessness grows taller
Day after day;
Death snatched the singsong soul
With half the morning stroll 
Unfinished under
The pregnant sky.

A rain of tears damp 
The virtual wall; 
The rosary of marigolds 
Appears like spent bullets; 
And the gun salute by the state
Sinks in the arms of darkness.

What’s there in the body
Without the soul;
What’s there in the soul 
Without the body?

You are thirdfourthfifthsixth
May be in this week alone.
Unfinished lines and incomplete brush strokes
Play with the washerman’s canine;
Experience the anguish of eternal waiting.
No one will bother to blame fragile memory
And wait for the echoing rhetoric.

Advice to an Osteoporosis Man Who Loves to Run

After dismantling the long night
Let’s stop running now.

It smells like a joss stick.
Fog captures the road ahead.

I’ll never know
Whose tender hands made these shoes
That chime and kiss our asphalt road of life.

May I donate to you my ancient history
Burdened with false pride and a whine
That may bring numinosity to the soul?

Let’s turn back now.

The days go ahead in their spendthrift way
Before you pray a silent prayer
Where no prayer-flag is in sight.

You may drink the newspapers
Brimming with the retching of time.

(with permission taken from A Brief History of Silence, Dhauli Books 2019)

Manu Dash (1956) is a poet, editor, translator, publisher and curator of the annual Odisha Art & Literature Festival. He has published 25 books in Odia and English. While in college, he joined the “Anam Writers’ Movement” — an anti-establishment movement in Odia literature — shortly before the imposition of Emergency in India in 1975. He is the founder of Dhauli Books, which won the prestigious “Publishing Next Industry Award for the Best Printed Book of the Year in Indian Languages” in 2018.

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