Kamatipura -By Namdeo Dhasal

(translated from the Marathi by Dilip Chitre)

The nocturnal porcupine reclines here
Like an alluring grey bouquet
Wearing the syphilitic sores of centuries
Pushing the calendar away
Forever lost in its own dreams

Man’s lost his speech
His god’s a shitting skeleton
Will this void ever find a voice, become a voice?

If you wish, keep an iron eye on it to watch
If there’s a tear in it, freeze it and save it too
Just looking at its alluring form, one goes berserk
The porcupine wakes up with a start
Attacks you with its sharp aroused bristles
Wounds you all over, through and through
As the night gets ready for its bridegroom, wounds begin to blossom
Unending oceans of flowers roll out
Peacocks continually dance and mate

This is hell
This is a swirling vortex
This is an ugly agony
This is pain wearing a dancer’s anklets

Shed your skin, shed your skin from its very roots
Skin yourself
Let these poisoned everlasting wombs become disembodied.
Let not this numbed ball of flesh sprout limbs
Taste this
Potassium cyanide!
As you die at the infinitesimal fraction of a second,
Write down the small ‘s’ that’s being forever lowered.

Here queue up they who want to taste
Poison’s sweet or salt flavour
Death gathers here, as do words,
In just a minute, it will start pouring here.

O Kamatipura,
Tucking all seasons under your armpit
You squat in the mud here
I go beyond all the pleasures and pains of whoring and wait
For your lotus to bloom.
— A lotus in the mud.

http://india.poetryinternationalweb.org/piw_cms/cms/cms_module/index.php?obj_id=10554

A very disturbing poem about the world of Mumbai’s whoreland. Filled with intense pathos, the poem does not even try to underplay the emotions but rather plays up the ugliness and squalor of the lives of the unfortunate women perhaps, carried away by the horror of the scene. The imagery is extremely evocative. “As the night gets ready for its bridegroom, wounds begin to blossom “-perhaps a reference to the flowers the women wear to deck themselves up for the night’s customers. This is pain wearing a dancer’s anklet recalls the horrors of the mujra dance with which the customers are entertained.


“Let these poisoned everlasting wombs become disembodied.
Let not this numbed ball of flesh sprout limbs”

We may recall the “sprout” image used by T.S.Eliot in the Waste Land:

Stetson, you who were with me in Mylae,
That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
Did it sprout? Will it bloom this year?

The horror continues with the death of the unborn kids, who are for ever being lowered into the holes in the earth:


As you die at the infinitesimal fraction of a second,
Write down the small ‘s’ that’s being forever lowered

The poem’s end is surprisingly tender and on a note of hope.

O Kamatipura,
Tucking all seasons under your armpit
You squat in the mud here
I go beyond all the pleasures and pains of whoring and wait
For your lotus to bloom.
— A lotus in the mud.

One comment on “Kamatipura -By Namdeo Dhasal

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