Irom Chanu Sharmila

The following is a poem written by the Manipuri hunger striker, Irom Chanu Sharmila. It was translated from Manipuri to English by the Wide Angle Social Development Organisation, and originally posted on the South Asian People’s Forum blog in 2008.

Free my feet from the shackles
Like bangles made of thorn
Confined inside a narrow room
My fault lies in
Being incarnated as a bird.

Inside the dark room of the prison
Many voices echo around
Unlike the sound of birds
Not the merry laughter
Not that of a lullaby

A child snatched away from the mother’s bosom
The lamentation of a mother
A woman separated from her husband
The cry of anguish of a widow
A cry springing out of a sepoy’s hand

A ball of fire is seen
Dooms day follows it
The ball of fire was lit
By the product of science
Because of oral experimentation

Servants of sense organs
Everybody is in trance
Intoxication – the enemy of thinking
Wisdom of thinking is annihilated
No experimentation of thinking

Laughing with smiles on the face
By the traveller of coming beyond the hill ranges
Nothing remains but my laments
Nothing saved by the seeing eyes
Strength cannot show itself

Human life is precious
Before life comes to an end
Let me be light of darkness
Nectar will be sown
A true of immortality will be planted.

Putting on artificial wings
All the corners of the earth will be covered
Near the joining line of life and death
Morning songs will be sung
The chores of the world will be performed.

Let the gate of the prison be flung wide
I will not go on another path
Please remove the shackles of thorn
Let me be not accused
For being incarnated in the life of a bird.

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