Noble Meat Home
I am not interested at all in this Marathi woman--
Hard face, shrill voice—selling flowers
On the train going from VT to Thane and Thane to VT.
The train stops at Kurla station.
Muslim women get onto the train
And strip off their burkhas.
I look at them with a homoerotic gaze.
I can map all of Kurla in that face.
“Noble Meat Home”
Dirty white hens
The green distempered mosque
The older woman with henna-red hair
with her offering of a chadar
The Hajis officiating a nikaah
Little children who run over burning coals
A repentant sinner holding on himself
The blows of a whip and
Large cans overflowing with sherbet
To quench the thirst of Imam Hussain.
Translated from the Gujarati by Gopika Jadeja
The elephant’s memory is sharp
He reminds me a lot of what I have forgotten
This elephant with his deep and wide eyes
looks into my eyes
and I remember
that there was a strange sadness
in the eyes of my beloved like in this elephant’s
The elephant wanders
in the boundless forests of his dreams
I also wander following him
Sometimes he trumpets
and his unknown language
similarly reminds me
of my deep and secret happiness
The mahout does not know
of our shared dream
Tying the legs of the elephant
he drives him from one town to another
When the elephant passes through the lanes
it is a wonderful sight
One little girl appeared
from the first-floor corridor
of her apartment
and put a banana into
the elephant’s extended trunk
This elephant remembers that she was me
Now a young and beautiful maiden
I walk behind that old elephant
from one town to another
to re-live what was lived before
When the mahout whips the elephant
weals rise on my memory
Walking long distances
this elephant now tires
and I too have started jumbling up my memories
The elephant looks at me
with sad eyes
but there is still mere wonder in my eyes
the wonder of having seen
a huge elephant arriving in a tiny village
Translated from the Gujarati by Dileep Jhaveri
Manisha Joshi has published four collections of poems in Gujarati: Kandara, Kansara Bazar, Kandmool and Thaak. She has also published poems and travelogues in Hindi. She is a widely translated, anthologised and interviewed poet and has received Gujarat Sahitya Akademi’s first prize for her poetry collection Kandmool. Currently, she is working on her new project of culinary poems and memoirs in English. She lives in California.
Gopika Jadeja is a bilingual poet and translator writing in English and Gujarati. Her literary writing and translations have been published widely. She is committed to translating writing from marginalised communities. Gopika is working on a project of English translations of poetry from Gujarat.
Dileep Jhaveri is a bilingual writer. He has published several poems, a play and a travelogue in Gujarati. His poems and prose in English were published by New Feral Press, New York. He has been translated into many languages and invited to several countries.