— M Yuvan

The day and time of occurrence
of the Big Bang
couldn’t be estimated precisely,
because no one was around to do it.
The small ones that
followed, however, were
each recorded date-wise.

Some to celebrate the
joy of each explosion,
a few to mourn, and many
to be dismayed, unaware of the root cause,
came into being on their own.

To this day,
I’ve never crossed the road in an unmarked zone;
never taken a test without preparation;
never defaulted on any tax payment;
never failed to observe any ritual fast;
never missed a ceremony to repay ancestral debt;
and never ever arrived late for work.

Even so,
this guard who boarded
my compartment a short while ago
carrying an automatic gun —
why, how and when did he choose me?
I didn’t understand it at all.

Was he perhaps
alerted by the tremor
that shook me when
I walked through the detector
gate for explosives hidden
in handbag and shirt pocket,
skin and flesh,
bone and marrow?
Or was it
my body trembling like
a football kicked around
in every corner of daily life
that gave me away?
The handbag, after his inspection
and departure, is
lying open still. My hand
flinches when I think
of shutting it again.


Translated by N Kalyan Raman from Untitled Tamil poem by M Yuvan


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