The prose of Indian poet Haripriya Soibam describes youth's struggle to preserve and promote democracy. Read her five poems for "Young voices on the rise - Youth and democracy in the Asia-Pacific region".
These poems are part of our dossier "Young voices on the rise – Youth and democracy in the Asia-Pacific region".
The tiny voices of those
who had even once stared
out of the window of a classroom,
Looking for the poetry
of a whole flower - on the dissection table,
lies the operated flower in parts - stigma, stamen, sepal.
You are told,
this is the move
from gaze to knowing
But you know
it is beyond the walls
you learn to hold
the flower whole
and inhale the origin
of all poetry.
promises and promises
give it a miss
it is unsure
you promised me the moon
and dotted on my nails
the black stain of your promises
I live with the regret
yet another five years
Optimist that I am
you will find me yet again
lining up in the queue
amongst stones and dust
of the rumbling school
roofless from your promises
waiting for the stain
secretly folding your promises
sliding it down
the box of dreams of democracy
locked securely for another five years
is lies and lies and lies
Yet I believed
like a love struck luckless lover
I wish I had chosen
another polish for my nails
III. In Clear Light
One foot already on the other side
part of you, distant future-looking
you will soon be exiled from comfort
always be in clear light
of that which you see in the mirror.
if the lights dim outside
incubate the rage curled in your belly.
do you remember your kindergarten crayon river
emerging from between hills flowing outside of the frame?
now that you are older than that
the clamour of the world awaits you
perhaps outside of the frame
of what we taught you
and you will teach us your fury.
IV. Pandemic City
Understand, my rage is basic, uncomplicated
against the empty clanging of utensils,
hollow echoes of applause.
For which dislocated human
have walked home without doubt?
Of all the bricks that
passed those callused hands
shaping concrete and mortar
into ivory tower edifice,
cities are, but, grids of desolation
V. Dream/ Delusion
Everything unravels including the sky.
Dusk is caught as a lump in my throat
Each day, how easily unmade. How easily a page can be blank.
Wordless, the poet collect shards of broken dreams of words
as if a souvenir of youth.
And youth? What age it was!
How we thought a poem will bring down the nation at our feet!
Youth, that age we held finite alphabets
dreamt of coaxing infinite poetry.
Break or get broken in this encounter,
But so lopsided it was, it is
Words against bombs, stones against bullets.
Youth, so easily a time between living and dying
and words could be a conversation been lovers
or the last to litter memory with.