Padam Gautam

Joint Pain

First, they burned jungles,
cornfields and hungry huts.
Burnt cots, almirahs and clothes,
and stumps of the remaining trees--
the same ash seekers…
Then they made our children
carry the ashes on their mule backs.

Again they burnt the whole landscape--
wheat fields, barns,
and my beautiful wooden house.
Slowly as we watched
they burnt the whole village.
Powerless, this moment
we stood shivering in the cold,
alone bare and barren
in this deserted village.

Oh again, once again is coming this way
the procession of the Ash seekers…
Now, when not even
the skin of the earth remains,
what shall we burn
to produce ash for them?
We have nothing left
except these fragile bodies.
Will the ash of our charred bodies
be enough to feed the hungers of their demon hearts?

Translated from the Nepali by Yuyutsu Sharma

Padam Gautam

Padma Gautam has published three poetry collections, Phoolko Lash Mathi, Ragatko Sainkakshma and Ektarako Phool, a book of ghazals. He worked with Rajdhani vernacular daily as literary editor for many years and currently lives in Europe.