Academic journal article Transnational Literature

Votualevu Junction

Academic journal article Transnational Literature

Votualevu Junction

Article excerpt

for Gitanjali on her birthday

after Yevgeny Alexandrovich Yevtushenko 's 'Zima Junction'

At the roundabout, the road's forked

Like a human tongue,

There are coups within coups,

Dark clouds upon black clouds circling

Like the black dogs of depression:

Lightning rents the sky with barbed wires.

In the luminescent green of the landscape

Old Lali, like Nani, lies buried in peace.

Two sunflowers shine as human expression.

Yet the circle grows bigger

And the slogans are many:

Let's grow together -

Let's live together -

Are you prepared for a disaster? -

We eat Fijian grown, do you?

The golden circle is larger

Pineapple plantations are no more.

Sugar, that slave crop, is the diabetic king.

The sweltering humidity - its intensity -

Saps my inner vitality - an emptiness fills the air.

We walk in shattered lives, a shared destiny

In the shadows of mundane laughter

Of things that once appeared so sublime:

All stories began with once upon a time...

History comes in waves and wild winds

In cyclones, coups and heart attacks.

And the wordless whirlpools of hereafter.

We are bound by griefs of a womb

Like leafless trees on an island tomb.

The sunburned tourists come and go

Chanting: This is one hell of a paradiso.

While Airways, Airlinks, fly above

Where I'd known so much love

Rode on brown Charlie's bare back

And grazed Lali, among the holy cows

Every morning we did our vows,

Bowed to the solitary sun so resplendent,

Rising like a single pineapple slice

O'er blue hills, rippling in blue waves

On naked women and nibbling mice.

In the Nandi, Nisan Ali sat on his horse,


Baba asked him: How many fish caught?

None ,the hatmaan, muttered:

My kismet Babajaan

Is scribbled with the horse's thing!

The stud's pen is like a gun.

All fate is written in water, Babua.

Fook the fish: the bait hides the hook;

I'm going home, on the hill,

To eat bhauji's baigan ke chokha

Until my tumtum is fully-fill.

Are Bhagwaan, uttered the old man,

And slipped into the gleaming river

Of glinting dreams and distant sorrows

On an island without any tomorrows.

My grandmother gossiped about yesterday:

Nisan's mother had three husbands

She came from a mountain terrain

When Mother India was one - One was all,

We were fed by the same breasts.

She married Lahari, then Ramzan,

Died in pundit Mohan Ram's arms.

Fat and forbidding, formidable too,

The plass was made extra big for her.

She tossed and turned on Matalita's mat:

To bury or cremate was the question.

They dumped her burnt bones in the sea

From where she'd arrived in a sailing ship

With stitched sails of hessian paals,

To the islands across the seven seas,

While pundit Lalla read the scriptures

Amid many friends and a few foes,

As sand sea-waves slithered on my toes.

I've landed in the rainbow evening:

Welcome Home is boldly proclaimed.

I walked to the immigration officer

Uniformed in blue, without a smile,

More used to greeting tourists, perhaps.

Inside I couldn't see a familiar face

On the murals, painted in mobile hues,

Nevertheless I strode boldly through

Customs and the kindness of a man.

The queue was lengthening, two cops

Sat and coughed: I left the duty-free shops.

A kind of music was in the evening air

Heavy with the smell of hibiscus;

The bougainvillea were brightly lit

Petals of frangipani bloomed in ears.

The red flowers grew on green trees.

Below them yellow taxis, standing.

It was humid and the sun was sinking

In the blue waves below a mutilated sky

Bleeding many colours, old memories:

Suddenly I could see so many scars

Of my youth in those distant stars. …

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