Two poems of Dr Narendra Mohan 

Two poems of Dr Narendra Mohan 

Translation from Hindi to English by Seema Jain

Muntazer al-Zaidi
I do not know Muntazer al-Zaidi
But I know the hand
That threw a shoe
At the face of Bush
Protesting against the vast shame
Of his country, wrapped in blood,
As acted out in the ‘Last Salute’

Yes! The same compassionate hand
That kept soothing and supporting its people
Hounded out of their homes 
Mauled by ‘hunting dogs’
That kept treading the blood-smeared roads
With caravans of people exiled from their own land
Besieged by bullets and bombs, terror-stricken
The one that embraced the sky
Ripped apart by the moans and screams
Of wounded birds 

That same hand rose like a rebuff 
And turned into a shoe
The rebukes whirling inside him like a bullet 
And at last assaulted Bush
In those moments I witnessed 
The most oppressive power of the world
That could cross all bounds of tyranny 
Tremble, muttering in panic

I know Muntazer had to go through
Prolonged rounds of suffering
Tormented and scorched with ‘third-degree’ torture

But when I shook hands with him
Backstage the Auditorium of Shri Ram Centre•
There was warmth in that hand
And in his eyes tender green grass and a smouldering heat

I could feel the pulse of a bleeding nation
And Iraq flowed through my veins 
More than this I don’t know Muntazer al-Zaidi!

*Shri Ram Centre in Delhi where a play based on Munazer-al-Zaidi’s book Last Salute and directed by Arvind Gaur was enacted


Like Burning Coal on the Palm
Which beauty are you talking of, which art?
How do I make art and poetry 
Symbols of supreme beauty
When at the source of all symbols of beauty
You have placed symbols of power!
How do I create 
A beautiful configuration of artistic devices
While you’ve daubed with smut all devices of beauty 
Sucking them dry to the dregs?
How do I protect
The sapling of Poetry 
From the lolling tongues of fire
What do I do?
Should I run away to Kaal Bhairav Temple 
On the coast of Shipra river
Or engage in occult practices
Or escape to the caves of Bhartrihari
And get engrossed in meditation
What do I do?
How do I concentrate on the higher realms of Art
And attain the free spirit of verse
In the burning scenario of arson massacre and rapes
After throwing my friends into fire
You advise me to be calm and unaffected 
In Poetry 
While I can feel Poetry
Like burning coal on my palm

Seema Jain.