In November, I travelled to Dumari Village in Gorakpur. Dumari is the village of Hindi poet and novelist Ramdarash Mishra. His 1986 novel Panī ke prāchīr contains several examples of Bhojpuri folksong. Most of these songs are still well known across the Bhojpuri region, and I was very happy to record them in Mishra’s own village.
While visiting Prof. Mishra at his home in Delhi, I recorded him reciting some of his poetry. He wrote these three short poems in 1980. Their concerns include censorship and over policing—issues of the day in the 1980s, and perhaps even more relevant 35 years later.
Here Prof. Mishra writes in deceptively simple language. Hindi learners may wish to check the vocabulary for the poems, as they read along with his recitation.
चूहे फिर उतरा गये हैं सड़क पर
जल्दी ही घरों में प्रवेश करेंगे
अपनी-अपनी किताबें सँभाल लो
ये गोदाम या तिजोरी नहीं काटते
केवल किताबें काटते हैं
क्योंकि उनमें इनसे बचने
या मारने के उपाय लिखे होते हैं ।
हर चौराहे पर
दुर्घटनाग्रस्त होकर तड़प रहा है एक देश
डाक्टर के बदले
पुलिस का इन्तज़ार कर रहे हैं ।
डाक्टर हड़ताल पर हैं
और पुलिस ड्यूटी पर
देखिए, इस अस्पताल का क्या होता है !
Once again rats have descended on the street
They will soon enter the houses
Everyone protect your books.
They won’t chew your pantry or coffers
They only chew books
Because the way to be saved from them
and to destroy them, are written within
At every crossroad
a disaster-struck nation is writhing
instead of doctors
are waiting for the police
Doctors on strike
and police on duty
Behold, what will happen to this hospital!