The poem came visually and aurally, quite in a pre-linguistic fashion. Yes, when I woke up from sleep in the middle of the black night. Then when I got down to writing, the visuals and audios crystalled themselves linguistically. This process is a subtle aesthetic orgasmic experience, and you don’t ever want to get over this. For this one, the linguistic crystallization occurred simultaneously in two languages–some parts in Manipuri, and some other parts in English, the two languages I straddle most comfortably. The blended nature of how I experienced the original bilingual poem has its own distinct, irreplaceable beauty; however, I have separated the strands for better presentation, translated parts from one language to another and vice versa, and have presented the two versions as below, the English and Manipuri lines kept abreast of each other.
Assuming some may find the line alignment of the English version in the ‘preformatted” juxtaposition with Manipuri uncomfortable, I have reproduced the English version at the bottom of the post again.
ঈশিংদা তাশিল্লে Fallen into the water.
কদায়দগিনো খঙদনা-- God knows from where—
অরূবা ঈশিং clear water,
ত্রৎ ঈংবা ঈশিং, freezing cold
হকচাং কয়াৎ পূম্বা য়াথোকহনবা৷ getting around all organs.
মখূৎতু ঙাইহাক্তি লাম্মী the hands grope awhile
মখোঙদু ঙাইহাক্তি কাওই৷ the legs kick awhile.
অদৈদি ঈশিংদু হঞ্জিল্লকই Then the water returns
করিশু খঙজদবা মতৌদা৷ to its placid innocence.
ফমজিনখ্রবা ঈমায়দা ফমদুনা Crouched on the icy surface
উই মশাগি হোৎনবা পূম্বা he sees all his own efforts
ঈশিংনা চূপশিনখিবা, being sucked up by the water,
মাগি ফিথোংদবা হকচাং his naked body
অঙৌবা গুলিগুমই a blueish-white tablet
অরূবা গ্লাসকি ঈশিংদা in a glass of clean water
তুমদ্রঙৈ ঙাইহাক্কি প্রীক প্রীক৷ noiselessly bubbling awhile
before it dissolves.
অহিং নোংয়ায়দা মীৎকপ থোরকই৷ He wakes up at midnight.
মঙ্গারকপগুমই মদু It feels like back from a funeral
অঙকপা অমম্বা লমদম অমদগি৷ in a strange dark place
মুশিবা তেবল লেম্প নাকলদা A glass of clean water
অরূবা ঈশিং গ্লাস৷ beside the shaded table lamp.
অঙৌবা গুলি অমা থাদৈ৷ He drops a blueish-white tablet in it.
কোঙ্গোল মচা খরা পৃক পৃক A few tiny bubbles prick up
ঙাইহাক৷ just awhile.
অমুক তূমথবা য়াদ্রে He can't bring himself
মহাক৷ back to sleep.
The English version is reproduced below again:
Fallen into the water.
God knows from where—
getting around all organs.
the hands grope awhile
the legs kick awhile.
Then the water returns
to its placid innocence.
Crouched on the icy surface
he sees all his own efforts
being sucked up by the water,
his naked body
a bluish-white tablet
in a glass of clean water
noiselessly bubbling awhile
before it dissolves.
He wakes up at midnight.
It feels like back from a funeral
in a strange dark place.
A glass of clean water
beside the shaded table lamp.
He drops a blueish-white tablet in it.
A few tiny bubbles prick up
He can’t bring himself
back to sleep.