Time, Nightmares and Monologue

Mahesh Paudyal

Years ago, I heard a voice in the thunder’s roar:
‘Step on razor blades and walk atop the mountain yonder;
On the other side is a huge garden that yields gold.’

The eclipse of hunger at once left my eyes
And they welcomed an unprecedented light of hope.

I had heard people in a distant country climbed a similar mountain,
Brought home gold filled in baskets, and embellished their lives.

Seeing that dusk was not so far, I doused off the dim lamp
Put a veil over the face of clam, meditative Buddha statue;
Kids were still fast asleep; I secretly left
And headed towards the summit of the mountain.

Someone on the way bartered the lines on my palm with a gun. I took it.

I never said ‘ouch’ while walking atop the razor blades
I did miss my home but never lamented
I never said I was tired; I didn’t say I festered
When climbing a mountain painted red by the blood of dream-professing folks like me
I didn’t say I was losing my heart.

Oh, the summit of the mysterious mountain would never come
No matter how much I climbed
It loomed higher and my efforts grew punier

At the moment, I am in the middle of the mountain
My fellow-travelers have disappeared somewhere on the way
A pitch-dark night has spilled all over the road
I cannot crawl and kiss the summit anymore
Nor can I slide down the hill and get to the foot again

No one again lit the lamp I had doused, perhaps!
No one perhaps unveiled the Buddha I had myself covered
There perhaps was no sunrise to awaken my starving kids again,
I can see nothing but darkness
And in the dark, my country looks not different from the moon half-eaten by the eclipse.

Oh desolate night! You are my only companion this moment
Come on; take this gun and swallow it whole
Flame out, and show me my path
Or set me on fire and devour me.
Be informed: dangling midway with no escape
Is like hanging from a tree but unable to die.