Like the waiting to meet
The woman you’ve been burning for
Who had messaged saying she’ll come on her own
I also waited for many days
For those unknown gentlemen
Who told me they would come to shoot me.
They arrived one afternoon and
We met at last, face to face.
I asked their identities,
They said something about being people
Associated with peace-keeping.
All of them seemed to look alike and
I couldn’t establish their true identities.
I asked them politely:
“Which part of my body will you shoot
Arm, shoulder, or hip
Is it possible to know beforehand, please?”
The one who looked their likely leader replied:
“Eh, why not!
It won’t be arm, shoulder or hip
That’s the job of nurses and doctors giving injections;
What we’ll shoot is the leg.
Would you prefer the left or the right
You could choose one, venerable elder?”
I pleaded: “Left or right leg it’s the same
They’re both equally important;
Lose one and you’ll end up crippled, grotesque, physically challenged.
Instead of shooting a leg, isn’t it possible to shoot me in the head?
With a head attached, I’ve been troubled a lot
It has been making me spend a lot at the barber’s
Spending needlessly has hurt the economy.”
The one who looked their leader said:
“Eh, can’t shoot in the head, can’t shoot in the head!
A human has two hands two legs
Two eyes two ears;
From those organs with two parts
We’ll shoot choosing only one.
This is the view of humanity and ethics
Practised in this civilized society.”
He said further:
“Has uncle ever seen a living walking human with two heads?”
I replied: “I’ve never seen any double-headed one!
I’ve seen plenty of men women with double haunches
There are so many of them in this very neighbourhood!
A pair of haunches two pairs of hips fanning out
Like a peacock spreading his tail before his dance.
It’s so funny, really quite a sight!”
Hearing my words, the likely leader burst into laughter:
“They are born to make clothes costlier, to harm the state!”
“Should we shoot the left or the right leg?
Please think about it carefully:
We’ll come another day, we’re very busy”
Saying this, they headed towards the gate.
(English translation Robin S Ngangom)
Robin S Ngangom is a bilingual poet and translator who write in English and Manipuri. He currently teaches literature at North-Eastern Hill University. His publications include three books of poetry: Words and the Silence, Time’s Crossroads, and The Desire of Roots.