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Image by Hal Gatewood


They go astray from the herd, they can’t fight
either and throughout the day they scorch
in the sun burning their bellies, cracking their backs
and breaking their bones
their backs come to stoop down compelling them
to not look at the sun where it’s on the horizon.

They go marching straight following one another
in one row, there’s neither noise nor sound;
no botheration about hunger or insomnia,
where do they go—
farmlands, mines, drain, sewage canal—where?

Where do they go, where? The earth sucks every
drop of blood; the lotuses of the toiling men
charm the flower vase of someone else
one day, at once they’re butchered while their

necks are stooped down, the blood exudes as
oblation every day; children followed by
their entire family get a turn to be sacrificed;
which god are they the sacrifices for?

They’re not bothered about anything and show
their back to although everything is apparent; before
the sunrise, the pupils of their eyes go up to blast
the limbs of their bodies remain lifeless and numb
and the sun rises on the mountain of their bones.

Translated from the original poem Odia by Shatrughna Pandab (below)


ଲଢି ଜାଣି ନାହାଁନ୍ତି…..ଗୋଠରୁ ଫିଟନ୍ତି ଯେ ,
ଖରାରେ ତରାରେ ସିଝୁଥାନ୍ତି ଦିନ ତମାମ
ପୋଡେ ପେଟ ….ଫାଟେ ପିଠି…ଭାଙ୍ଗେ ହାଡ
ନଇଁ ଯାଏ ବେକ ….ଆଲୁଅକୁ ଉହୁଙ୍କି
ଚାହିଁ ବି ପାରନ୍ତି ନାହିଁ.. ଦିଗନ୍ତରେ ସୂର୍ଯ୍ୟ କାହିଁ ?

ସିଧା ଧାଡିରେ ମାର୍ଚ୍ଚିଂ କରି ପଛକୁ ପଛ – ସୋର ଶବ୍ଦ
କିଛି ନାହିଁ ..ଉପାସ ଅନିଦ୍ରା ନିଘା ନାହିଁ – କୁଆଡେ ଯାଆନ୍ତି ?
କ୍ଷେତ.. ଖଣି ? ଫୁଟପାଥ୍? ନର୍ଦ୍ଦମା.. ନାଳ ?
କୁଆଡ଼େ ଯାଆନ୍ତି …କୁଆଡେ ?
ମାଟି ଶୋଷି ନିଏ ବିନ୍ଦୁ ବିନ୍ଦୁ
ରକ୍ତ…. ମେହେନତି ର ପଦ୍ମ ସଜାହୁଏ
ଆଉ କା’ ଫୁଲଦାନୀ ରେ ।

ନଇଁ ଗଲା ବେଳେ ବେକ ଅକସ୍ମାତ ଦିନେ ଚୋଟ ପଡେ
କେଉଁ ହାଣ ମୁହଁରେ – ଯେ ରକ୍ତ ଇଡିଯାଏ – ଭୋଗ ଲାଗେ
ନିତିପ୍ରତି ପାଳି କରି ବଳି ପଡନ୍ତି ପିଲା କୁଟୁମ୍ବ… କେଉଁ
ଦିଅଁ ର ବଳି ଏମାନେ?

ଖାଲି ପିଠି ଦେଖାଇ ଥାନ୍ତି ….ଯଦିଓ ସବୁ ଦିଶେ
ଲାଲ୍ ଟକମକ…. ସୂର୍ଯ୍ୟ ଉଠି ନଥାନ୍ତି ସେ ବେଳକୁ
ସୂର୍ଯ୍ୟ ଉଚ୍ଛୁର ରେ ପହଡ ଭାଂଗିଲା ବେଳକୁ
ଏମାନଙ୍କର ଆଖି ଫୁଟି ଯାଇଥାଏ…ହାତ ଗୋଡ ମାଦଳ
ସୂର୍ଯ୍ୟ ଉଠନ୍ତି ଏମାନଙ୍କ ର ହାଡର ପାହାଡ଼ ଉପରେ ।

Pitambar Naik is an advertising copywriter. He’s a former reader/editor for Mud Season Review and Minute Magazine. His work appears or is forthcoming in The McNeese Review, Notre Dame Review, Rise Up Review, Packingtown Review, Ghost City Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Rigorous, New Contrast, The Indian Quarterly and elsewhere. He’s a book of poetry, The Anatomy of Solitude (Hawakal). He grew up in Kalahandi, Odisha, and lives in Bengaluru, India.

Shatrughna Pandab is a retired professor of Odia Literature. He qualified for the Junior Research Fellowship of the Govt. Of India in 1998. He has 14 books to his credit of them, 8 are collections of poetry. He has won the Sarala Samman, the Odisha Sahitya Akademi Puraskar, The Bishuba Samman and The Jhankar Kabita Puraskar among many awards and accolades. He grew up in Odisha, India.


  1. Anonymous

    Thanks a lot Dear Pitambar Babu for promotion of Odia poetry in a global platform. The original poem of Dr Satrughna Pandab titled Menddha is nicely translated in to English.

    • Anonymous

      Being an Odia myself, it’s also my duty to give back a bit to our literature. Hence, it’s such a delight to translate “mendha” by Dr Shatrughna Pandab.

  2. Anonymous

    You are great sir


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