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Hands

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Friends

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In a mission
to do away with
all the insincere friends
and to keep
only the truest ones
I am unfriending
some of my friends
everyday,
and my mission will be complete
on the day
I’ll unfriend
myself
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Ten pieces from “Six Strings”

1. Goats

A goat’s head

grins upon

the butcher’s dirty wooden table—

Other goats

continue their fight

for a few strands of straw

under the table.

* * * * *

 

2. The poem

Untitled

* * * * *

3. Barrier

I was prepared

to cross the mighty Koshi*

when two big drops of tears

from your eyes

created an ocean for me.

_________

(Koshi is the biggest river in Nepal.)

* * * * *

4. At the theatre

He was

on the stage

and

I was

at the audience.

With full attention

I watched

until

a question haunted me:

Who was acting?

* * * * *

5. Two balls of thread

Walking
through the dark night,
my friend and me lost our ways
and fell into a deep dry well. Groping
through the darkness, our hands came across
huge balls of thread—Our fingers vigorously,
tirelessly moved through the thread
throughout the dark night
as if a solution would
come out of
it.

When
the night
that seemed like an eon
came to an end, and the first
morning rays entered into the old dirty well,
I saw, to my utter dismay: I had weaved a net out of the
thread and entangled myself leaving no possibilities
of rescue. My friend had weaved
a rope out of the thread
and had climbed
out of the

well.

* * * * *

6. Time

Did

you notice

the dream was longer than the night?

* * * * *

7. The state

Not many tall men remained—

Most of them,
after much consideration,
chose to leave the state.

All the remaining ones
were slashed into half.

Their height couldn’t be justified
by any means—

It was a state ruled by the dwarfs.

* * * * *

8. Unity

I shout slogans of our unity

inside the room.

As soon as she enters the room

I leave the room

and

I shout slogans of our unity

outside the room.

* * * * *

9. Gods

When I see you

laughing

at the top of your voice

while I shed torrential tears

all alone—

this is the only explanation

I find:

Our gods must be different!

* * * * *

10. Poet

Who is he?
I asked.
A crazy fellow.
They said.
A crazy fellow?
I asked.
Yes, a poor harmless crazy fellow.
They said.

He is so funny, you know.
He always talks to himself, all alone.

They said.

He talks about the winds and the clouds.
He talks about the mountains and the flowers.
He is so funny.
He doesn’t know what is going around him.
But he talks about the stars, moon and the sun.

Does he talk about you?
I asked.

Oh, yes.
He does.
He often talks about us, you and people
everywhere.

Is there anything he doesn’t talk about?
I finally asked.
They said:

Yes, there is something he never talks about.
Poor guy.
He never talks about himself.

.

(Please find a brief introduction to Six Strings here: https://prakashsubedi.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/introduction-six-strings/)

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At the temple

 

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              (Pic. sustainablechina.info)

At the temple,

I saw them completely engaged—-

The worshippers were busy

throwing the coins,

The priests were busy

collecting them.

For me,

difficult it was to say—

Who were the more devout?

But I came round:

It should be the collectors,

for

the throwers throw only now and then,

but the gatherers

continue with their hoarding forever.

.

————————————————————-

Since the time this poem was included in M.Ed. (English) syllabus of Tribhuvan University, I regularly receive emails from students asking me its meaning. Moreover, a number of people arrive at my Academia page while searching with keywords like “At the Temple/Prakash Subedi/Tribhuvan University” and so on. Therefore, this is my modest attempt to share some of my personal thoughts on this poem (trying not to disappoint those who arrive here).  

I exactly don’t remember when I wrote this poem, but it was included in my first anthology of poems, Stars and Fireflies (2009). 

Every reader is free to make her own interpretation of a text she reads, based on her own experience, exposure, and expertise, and this poem would not be an exception in any way. Therefore, my opinion on it is neither very important nor it matters much. But if I just have to respond to the question ‘what thoughts I had while composing it,’ I would say I was thinking about religion in general, but also about the way we observe religion in Nepal in particular.

Religion probably is the best and the worst among all human inventions. As a personal quest towards the ultimate meaning of being life, in its spiritual, ethical, and aesthetic senses, religion defines humanity at its best. But as an ideology and an organized dogma, religion has been one of the most unprogressive forces, and has been responsible for some of the worst crimes against humanity in the past and at present. Therefore, I believe, whenever we talk about religion, we should keep both of these antithetical aspects in mind.

While writing this poem, I was pondering over the relationship between the material and the spiritual aspects of religion: how religion has been completely misguided from its original ideals, and how it has become just another basis of discord. For instance, every religion promotes charity or donation, and it definitely is a good idea to make a contribution in the name of ‘god’ so that, on the one hand, you don’t cling much to what you earn or own, and, on the other, what you give can be utilized for the sake of those who are in need. But most of the (monetary) offerings we make in our temples these days lack that compassionate and benevolent motive on the part of those who donate, and are guided solely by the aim of bribing and winning the ‘divine favor’ to fulfill our selfish ambitions or of showing off how rich we are. 

Similarly, those at the receiving end, the priests, too, aren’t any better either. In fact, they probably are much worse than those who give. They aren’t concerned at all about the actual objectives of charity, and are solely obsessed with amassing as much of wealth as possible for themselves. (As an example, just think of the rows that ensue among the Bhattas, the Rajbhandaris and the government every now and then on how the Pashupatinath funds should be divided!)

So, when I ask the question “who are the more devout?” I was actually thinking who could be worse between these two, the devotees who continue to throw the coins (out of greed to gain something) or the priests who keep on gathering them (cf. irony, i.e. saying something using its opposite). Though both of them are probably equally at fault in this regard, my personal assessment is that the priests should be considered as being more in the wrong, simply because they are supposed to be (and, they claim to be) the ‘learned guides’ of the otherwise ‘ignorant masses.’  

More (and, varied) interpretations are possible, I’m sure, and I would love to hear from you! 🙂 

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Pearls

Pearls

 

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Tears

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           (Tears in Heaven, Kusche Lirmel)

Day and night

they kept on pouring—

I asked them:

When are you going to stop?

They continued to flow,

but a tiny drop

looked at me and said:

When are you going to stop?

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Roots

RootsForWingsLogo5You need to have

solid, strong roots

that go deep into the earth,

they said.

And, I got so busy

strengthening my roots

that I never looked up

to see the sky.

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Eyes

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I opened my eyes

and

looked at the world—

I closed my eyes

and

saw the world.

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Flirting with life

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                                                         Sebastiao Salgado

I’ve been flirting with life for long,

and, I just have two fears

(or, is it only one?)

I am afraid-

my flirting

may anytime turn into something serious,

and, I am afraid-

my flirting

may never turn into anything serious.

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                                                                                                             (Where does this trail go? )

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The Poem

Untitled

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