ORISSA

Dr. Haraprasad Paricha Patnaik

The frenzied storm and hauling sea
Chased the land,life and tore apart the sky,
Took back in their bags a part of Orissa
Men, women, new born babes, buffalos
Cattle, cats, goats and festival gates
Thatches and the hopes of the hungry people.
Nature is angry, often furious:
For they fell her trees
Blasted the bones of her mountains
Ravaged her forests, sucked milk
From virgins’ breasts, took away earth
Underneath her feet.
The lulling hungry tongue
Of the looping, swirling, piercing wind
Lept and swept away everything
That was Orissa.

Scribes called it super cyclone
It proved man is not alone,
Mother Orissa looked like a widow
Naked, shaken by a truma of a rape.
The Kalinga war yet fresh in memory
They thought man is not born for defeat,
And plunged in to relief like dolphins
Rushed the hands and hearts known and alien.
Again for an Orissa of their dreams.

Those vultures survived
With their swindling beaks
Feasted on cadavers half burried
On sandy shores,
Those vultures did not die
Feasted on relief files;
They eat German kits, British food packets
Japanese yen, Canadian medicine
Blankets and polythines
And orphan maidens
Whose parents were sucked
By the giant jaws of the sea.
They too belonged to Orissa.

The camera lenses, scribes
Carriers of commodities
And the common man shouted
Stared and were stunned,
The vacuum in the Secretariat
From a chief minister, a chief secretary
To daftaries absorbed them
For their record room.

This is Orissa more than
Five thousand years old.

· Dr.Haraprasad Paricha Patnaik (b.1953) is a senior poet from Orissa. Known for his gripping style, his use of wit and irony through an unusual presentation often lyrical, refreshes a poetry reader. Dr. Patnaik is also a translator and editor and has five collections of poems, two collections of translation besides several critical articles. A former secretary of Orissa’s Academy of letters, he teaches English in a Bhubaneswar based government college.

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