Why do I write?

By Nilim Kumar

I don’t have any theory. I don’t believe in any theorem in poetry. Imagination is my theorem.

There is definitely an answer to the question– why do I write? But I never started writing consciously with a definite intention to write. I don’t know how that person that writes poetry came alive inside me. He sought for my hands so eagerly, so fervently he asked for my lips that I gave him my hands, my lips. He writes poems with those hands. He plants kisses with those lips and whistles along a soulful tune. The same way the poet came to me without my knowledge. I did not have any premonition that he would come like that. He used to stare at people holding my hands. He is a human being. He nurtures all good habits and bad habits of a human being. He nurtures all the lights and darkness of human beings. He explores for the man in a male, for a woman in a female. He wants the natural colour of the earth. He wants to embrace people. He forays around the houses, courtyards, shops and establishments, in the marketplaces. As if he is a person banished, singed in fire.

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He comes to me when he is hungry. He comes to me when he is thirsty. He comes to me as he cannot bear the pain of that wound in his bosom. I have to feed him food and water with my hands. I have to pacify and put him to sleep on the bed of my bosom. He writes poem in exchange. But whatever he writes is the true story of my life. Thus the poetic entity entered into me. I felt that poetic entity inside me. The experiences of all my happiness-sorrow, laughter-sobs-agony had been his poetic experiences. Finally he did not have another life called his. Both of us lived the same life.

Of course it was not that there had not been any conflict between the social life or family life with this poetic life. But I have chosen freedom in poetic life. Who would speak what about me – what the future would say  of me, I have never ever bothered about that. Whoever is conscious or sensitive about the evaluation or verdict of future, can’t remain free in the realm of literature or art. Freedom is my breath. Freedom is the blood of my words. Freedom is my symbol. Freedom is my style. Freedom eggs me on to indulge in imagination again and again. I leave myself to imagination. I don’t have any theory. I don’t believe in any theorem in poetry. Imagination is my theorem.

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Several years back I penned a tiny novelette in the name meaning ‘Is there a model for my poem in this city’. There I wrote about using a model by the poet for composing a poem in a similar manner the painters in some advanced countries hires some female model for their famous paintings. It was my personal wish for an experiment. Had I proceeded to put this wish into reality, not only that I might have been socially chastised, in all probability some people would have ensured that I am thrown into prison. Such type of conflicts makes me unhappy. Still I have not yet compromised with my freedom. I am yet to veer off my policy of freedom of thought even after so much of criticism, castigation, ill-treatment and threats. Because I know whenever I slip off from this freedom the very moment will be point of death of my poems. This is all about my poetic life. Why do I write poetry – only one line would be the right answer to this question; I need to write poetry in order to continue to live.

Click here to read the Assamese version.

[Translated by Bibekananda Choudhury]

Nilim Kumar is a prominent Assamese poet and novelist.

Bibekananda Choudhry is a writer and translator based in Guwahati, Assam.

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