Guise of Friendship

By Rezaul Karim

There are lots of differences
Between you and me

You are king
I’m a subject
You think you are free
And I’m your lackey

On your closed door
It is written
“It’s open”
In my palace made of reed
There’s not even a wattle fence

In my field there stands your barn
In the cowshed my oxen have grown old
Even my plough has gone missing
In your sword I’ve seen
My missing ploughshare

I till your land
At the head of my bed there lies the harrowed land

You write history with my blood
And teach me that stuff
As if I’m a rotter
Flowers are strewn over your funeral procession
Your bullets get stuck even in my dead body

Whatever history your devotees write
The sweat of my back wipes the text

There are lots of differences between you and me

You are king
I’m a subject

In your eyes glint the hunger of power
And the fire of lust
In my eyes burns the fire of
Sorrow and hunger

I feel the pangs of my hunger and yours too
You just feel yours

I have a lot to say
You have nothing to listen at all

There are lots of differences between you and me

With your sky
I can’t make any truce
I am no buyer of oxygen
For my breath

The identity can’t be same
Yours and mine

I know
The vulture and the corpse
Can never be friends

Translated by Nirendra Nath Thakuria

Rezaul Karim, retired as Special Officer, Planning (Deputy Director), Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department, Assam, is a columnist and writer of Assam. He has several books in Assamese to his credit.

Nirendra Nath Thakuria, retired Associate Professor of English, is a translator.

Click here to read the original Assamese poem.