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Homesick for Another World / Poems by Themreichon Leisan

Themreichon Leisan comes from the scenic mountain region of Ukhrul, Manipur. An avid reader, she enjoys writing book reviews and crafting poems. We are thrilled to showcase her work on Poems India, marking our first presentation of poetry from the far east. Let's celebrate this wonderful addition and the rich diversity it brings.

Themreichon Leisan

A Summer Tale


The summer night quietens down

As the chorusing of the cicadas comes to a standstill.

The night still smells of daylight summer rain.

Seven o’clock.

The lavender coverlet wraps grandma gently as she sleeps.

The simmer of light

From the lamp illuminates her gray hair like a crown.

The grimy mud in the paddy field

And grandma’s hands planting rice in the vacant lots;

The light showers of summer rain beating

On the muddy field.

A lonely planter, yet nimble hands at work;

Grandma would have rushed to the paddy field in the morning

To plant rice, if only she were as robust as youth.


I remember the first time

Grandma taught me how to plant rice.

Summer time.

The summer night roars back to life as it begins to rain

With the moths gathering beside the paraffin lamp.

Summer sputtered, grandma muttered

“Oh, it has started raining, Luishom has arrived.”

The morning comes to consciousness

Of faint summer aroma teasing the damp clime.

Her thumb pressed down the rice sapling in the mud.

I, with twinkling eyes, mirrored her every feat.

Bending down, I quivered;

Tiny hands flickered against the mud but slowly making way.

I am moved by the fancies that unfurled in the muddy water.


Wrinkled skin, she winks a feeble eye,

She smiles into corners.

Her frail body twists and turns; her memory robbed

By the moon, by the sun and all seasons.

The cicadas are singing.

A broken summer trying to peer through the lush greens;

That smells of rain and heat.

I looked at Grandma clinging to life, probably her

Last summer, bed-ridden yet alive.

I could see nothing behind her weak eyes, but summer,

The rice planting season.

Summer sputtered, grandma muttered,

“Ālungwon, have you learned how to plant rice?”

I saw the sun setting, and it would soon grow dark.

Yaruingam’s Mother


No novice in the web of life

Planting and harvesting rice in abundance

For her children and the patriarch.


Yaruingam, her first-born, a boy.

They call her ‘Yaruingam’s Mother.’

She binds the home strongly.


Wears ordinary, steps carefully

Among her planted crops and staples.

Season in, season out, she tills the earth.


Time revolves, the universe keeps running

Proud that she could work ten folds;

All for her children.


Wakes up with darkness and till dawn works,

Never missing vespers; moon full, moon dark.

She wears her broom straws to the stick.


Her vegetable stew and portion of rice

Relishes every single cell, wherever she sets table.

She lets nobody winter behind or summer early.


Blessed and proud, her children flourished.

People envied Yaruingam’s Mother;

The dutiful mother, hardworking and agile.


I grew up listening to people call her Yaruingam’s Mother.

Neither contemplative nor indifferent, only ignorant;

‘What a name grandma has!’ I would muse.


Grey waves, old age, and frail body

Grandchildren adorn her white-haired crown like laurels.

Ever content and dignified, she died blessed.


Her tombstone reads, ‘In loving memory of Mikshālā…

And I whispered,

‘Āyi, you had a name.’



Ukhrul, the Antiquated Town


Sharded in silver and brown, like raindrops,

Dreary as antique earthenware, houses

Stand guiltless in this antiquated town.

Familiar paths yet shabby, dusty and muddy;

Burdensome cold climate, deserted ambience

One breath might find this town redundant.

Wondrous sunset, breathtaking mountains

Swirling clouds; a sight for sore eyes.

Tin-roofed houses decorate this town.

Some silvery blinding; some brown rusted

But shielding the occupants as loyal as day to night.

Like warm golden rays that complement winter afternoons,

Tin-roofed houses complement Ukhrul effortlessly.

Ever unremarkable and antiquated yet alluring,

The townspeople love Ukhrul just the way it is.



Rain Song


The horizons ring widespread clouds.

Tilted and unstable, the rain is here,

And I know it will linger on like it did every year.

I see the sky leaning and the weather is dreary.

The grass is swinging and the road is muddy.

The warm moisture eclipses through the air and the mountains.

In greens and blues, Shirui Kashong is lush and lively;

The hills gleam like stars in the Milky Way,

But everything is damp and misty.


Would it still be Ukhrul if there were no rain?



On the Decline of Tales


Nobody in the yard, and nothing,

Nothing but mulberries,

Rows of mulberries,

Deep purple stain on my lips

With his cane walking stick,

Āwo appeared in the yard,

‘Don’t eat too much.’

Āwo scattered golden corn kernels

In the yard for the chickens

The canopy of trees looks majestic

Outside my grandparents’ house.

Āwo began narrating stories about his forefathers;

Headhunting tales,

Tales of the white-skinned man

Who ushered in Christianity

To the land of the mountains.

How I love listening to him

For a life in such company

I’d wish he were alive now

So I could listen to his head-hunting tales

Once again.



What is so real as mine


As I walk these vast idyllic plum blossoms

I think of you.

One hopeful spring you asked me why I chose plum blossoms

Over you.

Premonition so unfaltering, I did not halt to answer;

A lover and perfect equal I echoed, ‘plum blossoms’.

You and plum blossoms come and go

But plum blossoms come back each year,

You do not.



Outlandish


In the million perfectly- chiselled souls

You leave the impression of something enchanted.

Flooding through the air, my soul shifts and hovers

At the sight of you, an outlandish.

Not easy to proclaim the change you made;

Ever enchanting, you make me forget my being.

If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.

Getting you would be like plucking the moon from the earth.

So near yet so far; so familiar yet so strange,

An outsider, but a familiar stranger.



The Burnt-out Rhododendron


Thousands of women have come before me.

I bloomed out of them as a rhododendron

Bloomed out from the wild and not from the tamed,

And I blamed them for everything that they didn’t answer.

Now, I have to fight to be heard

A woman is no man, they tell me.

My voice echoed, but not heard.

One cry; one mouth, I wake to speak

Only to be shut, shut from the reflection of life.



Homesick for Another World


I come from the land of my ancestors,

The land of the mountains,

Where sons and daughters are raised together.

But I am often told I must act womanly,

Appropriate woman who is responsible;

Not too ambitious, but just run-of-the-mill

Who can bear children and create the perfect home.

I, a Daughter, a Woman, so dear to them

And my ancestral land, the land of the mountains, where I dwell

It is a Home so dear to me yet I feel homesick,

Homesick for another world.



Pursuit


I am not my name

A borrower

Placed in woman form

I am moulded into ‘how a woman should be’

Rather than ‘how I want to be’

I see silenced mothers, sisters, wives

And I would so much want to free them

As much as I’d like to free myself

For, you see, I am a human first

Before you call me ‘woman.’



Glossary

Āyi- Grandmother

Āwo- Grandfather

Luishom- Rice planting season

Ālungwon- female name

Yaruingam- male name

Mikshālā - female name

Shirui Kashong- hill top in Ukhrul district



 

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