Ramkrishna Jha ‘Kishun’ (Maithili Poems)

Ram Krishna Jha ‘Kishun’ (1923-1970) was an important Maithili poet. In his brief life of less than 50 years, he made significant contribution in establishing and expanding the Maithili literature. He inspired a number of Maithili literary figures in Saharsa and Supaul districts of Bihar. Aatmanepad (1963) is a collection of his poems. His writings are collected in three volumes of Kramshaha, Swayamvar and Vaicharik published posthumously in 1982. He has also written about the importance of modern poetry in Maithili.
Here is the translation of two of his poems into English from Maithili.

Ramkrishna jha kishun poem 1
Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Andrée Bonnard with her dogs, 1890

Translation- Rajesh K. Jha

Unanswered

Every morning,
I wake up with the burden
of a ship on my shoulders,
I take a yawn, straighten my body,
solve the crossword puzzle diligently.
The moment my eyes catch the rising sun,
I start dancing
like a juggler’s monkey on the beat of the pellet drum.

I wake up,
and I am transformed into an ox, may be a monkey,
dying and living again and again in the night,
I do everything,
moments turn into a big procession,
I shout names as in a slogan,
crossing the road,
my shoulders tremble  and quake.
Often a dog slides out of my skin,
wags its tail near a loaf of bread and a petticoat,
its fake persona agrees to everything,
gives just one answer to all the questions asked,
I do it to live, only to live.
But live for what,
the question remains unanswered.

Ramkrishna Jha Kishun-Anuttarit (अनुत्तरित)- Maithili Text

Tethered

We are tethered and chained,
past has hammered us into a yoke.
Thousands of years passed by,
while we continued walking,
but we stand fixated at the same place.
We continue walking for the whole day,
but our destination in the evening,
remains stuck where it was in the morning,
when we had woken up and started to walk.
Like the bullock leashed to the pivot pole,
we believe in accommodation,
preferring to duck and hide,
rather than struggle and fight,
for the whole of our life,
we regurgitate our past,

We count,
our father and father’s father and then his father again,
further till the infinitude of forefathers.
We live this tradition,
an interminable illusion envelops
the country in its fold,
and thus we enjoy,
living with the herd of corpses.
The infinite multitude of corpses,
dances in our head like a spectre,
forcing our hands up in surrender.

All our now and the future,
lies bitten by the giant of a python,
that has sunk its sharp teeth in our back.
We are tethered and chained,
our past has nailed us into a yoke.

Ramkrishna Jha Kishun-Khutesal (खुटेसल)- Maithili Text

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