More translations from Nepal


Wayne's photos and poems in this issue

Winter 2002


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“Death Speaks” appeared in Tampa Review; “Man From A Developing Country” appeared in Seneca Review, and “Marriage” appeared in Journal Of South Asian Literature.

Dinesh Adhikhari Dinesh Adhikhari

Death Speaks

Twenty-five years old,
an age when one wishes to dress up and dine out,
but let me add, she just died
As did her husband a year before her.

Near the pillow that was hers,
a tin box lay open
What each of us saw—
at the very top,
the dead husband's photo
and, under the photo,
folded, were letters
letters gathered together,
and beneath — husband's cap, wife's shawl,
his vest and her bra,
a shirt, a blouse, a man's
underwear, a woman's petticoat;
trousers were with saris,
shoes with sandals
Each of us stared visibly moved
No one could speak
What that rusted tin box had contained,
was now scattered among us —
a husband's and wife's love.
What could we add,
before such simplicity of expression,
striking all without fail
How suddenly life is cleansed of purposelessness
My assuredness
collapsed, a bastion of pride undermined
Truly speaking,
I knew not what happened
Simply there arose
passion and wariness
For the first time the fear of death — my death!
was upon me.

Man from a Developing Country

On the face —he,
sticking his own x-ray of tuberculosis
ranting his declarations of war against life
his waistcloth full with a harvest of stumblings
head tucked between his thighs —like a contortionist,
or unable to carry the load
farther than the zebra crossing
where stranded turned about
in mid-road if someone is seen stumbling,
dear transient,
send a message —through anyone
searching for his own face on the poster
—he is my neighbor

On his chest —he,
hanging a large signboard,
or in his eyes
as if placing his request to dry in the sun
on the footpath in front of the hospital
or in front of a Red Cross building
eager to sell blood
like fire at the fire station
if you see any young face,
dear respected one,
gaining kindness by a little of his blood
blood sold and gone
to pay the doctor's fee
—he is my only son

As sure as an artist's image drawn forth
and abandoned just after shaping
a hand clawing hold of the mountain's steepness
fingers worn back to knuckles
notched into a roughshod journey of stone and sand
badly worn feet
soles studded like leather
he, overburdened from his habit of seeking loads
three times his own weight,
with such an image with a weakened chest
if you run into him while walking on the road
saying "no line of smile seals his lips"
seeing no ray of pleasure unsettle his eyes,
dear tourist,
fear not his awakening
saying "He's the lost soul of Nepal"
the image of my fate to which I bow
—he is my father
he is a citizen of a developing country


The day after our wedding
we set off on foot

What happened?
Suddenly the sky darkened
dark clouds thundered
rain started to fall
There was no way nearby
to seek shelter,
and we had only a tiny umbrella
I tilted it again and again towards her
so she wouldn't get wet
With love, she turned the umbrella
back towards me
When the rain ceased
in turn we looked
I glanced at her
towards me she also gazed
By then, neither was I not wet
nor was she dry
Instead, the rain had drenched us the two of us

The day after our wedding
we set off on foot

Translations by
Wayne Amtzis Wayne Amtzis