By Sokhen Tudu, translated from the Santhali by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, excerpted from Witness, The Red River Book of Poetry of Dissent
A Poem for the Ol-Chiki The Bengali script in Bengal The Odia script in Odisha I do not know the Bengali script You do not know the Odia script Let us agree to one script for Santhali The Ol-Chiki is our script. They write in the Roman somewhere They write in the Devanagari at some places I do not know the Roman script You do not know the Devanagari script One script will unite us all The Ol-Chiki is our script. Dear writer, for how long will you Write your language using Someone else’s script? You are dividing our readers You are making our publishers lose money Let us all understand this The Ol-Chiki is our script. One language, one Script. This is what will strengthen us Santhals The talents of so many of us Scattered for the want of one script All of us Santhals, let us solve this script issue. (First published in 100 Poems are Not Enough, Walking Book Fairs)
Sokhen Tudu is a Mayurbhanj, Odisha-based Santhali poet, haiku writer and Santhali script activist. He was involved in spreading the Santhali script, the Ol chiki, among Santhals in Bangladesh.
Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar writes in English and occasionally translates from Santhali and Hindi to English.
This poem has been excerpted from Witness, The Red River Book of Poetry of Dissent, edited by Nabina Das and brought out by Dibyajyoti Sarma of Red River Books.
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