Almost uninvited
By Ashok Kumar Pandey

We sure were present in every ceremony
amid unfamiliar smiles and impervious silences
the invitation cards reached us every single time
in spite of the incomplete address and incorrect phone-numbers

we were present in our age with a complete feeling of our being
heedful of spotlessness of the words rather than clothes
we walked on the roads that had danger signs at every turn
looked for the walkways which were destroyed with deliberation
declared ancient we were in the prime of our youth
and we kept walking in search of the novel

our being itself was turned down in the first place
when even the sharp edge of silences couldn’t chop our tongue down
it was said with precision – this language has not been identified so far
we still kept on saying and then a word was bespoken – beautiful
though we were against all who were called beautiful
necessary it was to be a buyer while passing through the beauty bazaar
a few memories we had and a few cautions borne out of them
and for them the meaning of memories was a commodity

poetry was an inconvenience of sorts on our part
and a stepping stone to heavens on theirs
blood knee-deep we could see and submerged in love till neck they were
for us love was a reason to keep fighting
and an excuse for compromises for them

we were in different latitudes at the same time
just this much illusion-crosswalk of contemporaneity was there between us
a Russia had crumbled within us all
and there was no possibility of coldness in the war

These were the ceremonies right before the war
there was nothing left like a last hope of compromises
still some last protocol of contemporaneity was there
that we were invited to those gatherings
where plans to murder us were to be hatched

(Translated from Hindi by Bharatbhooshan Tiwari)

Ashok Kumar Pandey is a poet, writer and translator based in Gwalior, India. His first book of poems Lagbhag Anamantrit (Almost Uninvited) came out earlier this year. The other two books to his credit are Shoshan ke Abhyaranya (based on ill-effects of globalization and its alternative) and Marx: Jeevan aur Vichar (based on life and ideas of Karl Marx). He is a tireless worker and activist associated with left-democratic organizations in India.