07. 10. 2010. 18:25

From the Filth of Bombay (poems)

Zsuzsa Takács

"You don’t address me and you don’t answer me,
still I keep on talking to you. You have turned your face
away from me, delivered leprosy unto me, rendered
me mute. My counselors are the vermin and the flies."

                                     To the memory of Teresa of Calcutta
 
Aryans or Dravidians
 
Aryans or Dravidians, Hutus or Tutsis –
mere abstractions. Those who rummage in the
city’s refuse, settled on the curb’s edge
are my true family. Day by day,
 
minute by minute, I arise, I disinfect the newer
wounds on the edge of the eczema scars. I weep
with dry eyes at the sight of the children’s
hands, crippled by weaving carpets.
 
I do not have my own sandals or clothes. No one
addresses me as Memsahib. They say I’ve gone
mad, but I’m just free.
 
An implement that God took out of the
monastery toolbox forty-five years ago.
He uses it a little, then gently lets it fall.
 
 
From the Filth of Bombay
 
You don’t address me and you don’t answer me,
still I keep on talking to you. You have turned your face
away from me, delivered leprosy unto me, rendered
me mute. My counselors are the vermin and the flies.
 
I am identified by my comings and goings, by how I
stand in line at the train stations, as they push me
away from every window, every grating. I contrive
proofs in support of your existence and in vain
 
I wish it not so, but my proofs rise up
against You. Facts will be procured for
my posthumous beatification.
 
The reports of miraculous healings
proliferate, only I do not heal.
No one lifts me up from the filth of Bombay.
 
 
Cast Me Out
 
Like half-dried locusts, the beggars
at Blaha Lujza tér hold up their rag-veils.
If I didn't hear the rushing of wheels,
the street-peddlers' cries, the clatter of sandals,
 
the whimpering of thieves flogged inside the stalls,
I would think it had become one single sick-ward,
India dying within. But I beg you not to stop, if you've
already begun, complete your workings within me,
 
take from me my last hope, my Lord! Tomorrow again
I'll arise, tomorrow again I will docilely go
among your beggars on my circuit of smiles, if you permit me.
 
What else do you want from me? There is no faith
in me, no love. Don't let me sleep any later than four o'clock
at dawn, cast me out onto the street among them.
 
Translated by Ottilie Mulzet

Tags: Zsuzsa Takács