By Ajit Kumar Bhoi, translated by Pitambar Naik
You who are researching civilisation are cultured
we’re an element in your research—
from our nudity to our clothing
from our dialect to our spirits and deities
now your eyes are at our parched stomachs
endeavouring to know whether the intestines
of us are made of the flesh or iron
our hunger is your curiosity: how do these people live?
How do they live on fine-grained clay,
air-potato yams, and tubers with stream water?
The research team has come to know this
taking notes and pens, interrogating us bit by bit.
How do we feel hungry, why do we feel hungry
when do we feel hungry? Heaps of questions!
We don’t have any answers to these questions, sir
if you can, cut off our stomachs and carry on your
research in your laboratory
when the research is over, bring back our
stomachs and stitch them to our bodies
there’s nothing as such in these stomachs
keep them with you as long as you want
we’d be saved from hunger at least for some days
it’d be good if the government would know
and the administration would know
the rich and capitalists would know
you’d know what hunger actually meant to us and
how we live on mango seeds and fine-grained clay!
About the author:
Ajit Kumar Bhoi graduated from Sambalpur University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree and started writing poetry in 2015. People’s struggles like displacement, caste atrocities and alienation force him to write. He is a Middle School Teacher. He was born and brought up in Kuliapada, Kalahandi (Odisha) in India.
Pitambar Naik is an advertising copywriter for a living. When he’s not creating ideas for brands, he writes poetry. His work appears or is forthcoming in The McNeese Review, The Notre Dame Review, Packingtown Review, Ghost City Review, Rise Up Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Indian Quarterly and elsewhere. He’s the author of the poetry collection, The Anatomy of Solitude (Hawakal). He grew up in Odisha and lives in Bangalore, India.