Dinesh Adhikari
Small Question to a Big Man

You are a big man
Only after entering the bathroom in the morning
have you time to read the papers
Without a note sent in you can’t be seen
Ai! ai!! The applause for you rises everywhere
In welcome, now “Namaste” isn't enough
you also need a handful of flowers

Now: from two to three places per day
you draw an extra allowance,
for an inauguration you’re a must,
closing ceremonies are your domain,
a speech is synonymous with your name
What can’t be done by your will now?
Who does not follow your every gesture?
Now, even your wandering thoughts
are to be taken as a must If you commit a crime
it’s proclaimed a service to the nation
Really! Now you’ve become the heavens,
the worshipped one. Over the radio
on television—it’s you we listen to and see
I swear it’s true!
Now you have become a big shot

But sir!
Even after winning all, what have you won?
After becoming Mr. Big, have you, even for a night,
slept deeply—not flea-bitten by rupees?
Not jealously plotting harm?
Have you for a moment
been able to be happy with your family?
If not, what’s the meaning of being a big man?
Alas, now even for your own son
you’ve become a phantom, and now in your wife’s eyes you
have been left a photo
slightly bigger

than the one wreathed in the frame

Translated from the Nepalese by Wayne Amtzis and Manjul.