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Poems by Satis Shroff

(Sketch© by Satis Shroff)
(A Gurkha in tears after the senseless battles in the foothills of the Himalayas)

Nepalese metaphors: Satis Shroff writes political poetry: about the war in Nepal, the sad fate of the Nepalese people, the emergence of neo-fascism in Germany. His bicultural perspective makes his poems rich, full of awe and at the same time heartbreakingly sad. In writing ‘home,’ he not only returns to his country of origin time and again, he also carries the fate of his people to readers in the West, and his task of writing is a very important one in political terms. His true gift is to invent Nepalese metaphors and make them accessible to the West through his poetry. (Sandra Sigel, poetess, Germany).
*****

HOPE IN THE SHADOW OF THE HIMALAYAS (Satis Shroff)

Hush, an unholy alliance made the rounds,
The political parties and the Maoists are united.
They rattle their sabres no more,
Under Vishnu’s bed of serpents.

Narad brings us good news.
We don’t have to shiver together in angst.
There is hope in the Himalayas.
Hope of a separation of powers,
Hope of free elections,
Hope of fair trials before impartial tribunals,
Hope of amnesty.
We’ll do what Nepalese normally do:
Wait and drink Ilam tea,
And watch the scenario unfurl,
In the shadow of the Himalayas.

What better chance for a constitutional monarch,
A re-incarnated Vishnu,
Who holds
Spiritual and temporal powers
In the shadow of the Himalayas?

Glossary:
Narad: A heavenly messenger mentioned in the Rig-veda, he was a great Rishi, chief of the heavenly musicians who invented the lute.
Vishnu: The second God of the Hindu-triad, preserver and restorer, the supreme being from whom all things emanate.
_____________________

Not in Nepal (Satis Shroff)

Nepalis look out of their ornate windows,
In the west, east, north and south Nepal
And think:
How long will this krieg go on?
How much do we have to suffer?
How many money-lenders, businessmen, civil servants,
Policemen and gurkhas do the Maobadis want to kill
Or be killed?

How many men, women, boys and girls have to be mortally injured
Till Kal Bhairab is pacified by the Sleeping Vishnu?

How many towns and villages in the seventy five districts
Do the Maobadis want to free from capitalism?
When the missionaries close their schools,
Must the Hindus and Buddhists shut their temples and shrines?
Shall atheism be the order of the day?
Not in Nepal.
The religion is too much with us,
Within us.

*****

A THOUSAND DEATHS (Satis Shroff)

It breaks my heart, as I hear over the radio:
Nepal’s not safe for visitors.
Visitors who leave their money behind,
In the pockets of travel agencies, rug dealers,
Currency and drug dealers,
And hordes of ill-paid honest Sherpas
And Tamang and other ethnic porters.
Sweat beads trickling from their sun-burnt faces,
In the dizzy heights of the Dolpo, Annapurna ranges
And the Khumbu glaciers.
Eking out a living and facing the treacherous
Icy crevasses, snow-outs, precipices
And a thousand deaths.

No roads, no schools,
Beyond the beaten trekking paths
Live the poorer families of Nepal.
Sans drinking water,
Sans hospitals,
Where aids and children’s work prevail.

*****

Development and Destruction (Satis Shroff)

My Nepal, what has become of you?
Your features have changed with time.
The innocent face of the Kumari
Has changed to the blood-thirsty countenance
Of Kal Bhairab,
From development to destruction,
From bikas to binas.

You’re no longer the same
There’s insurrection and turmoil
Against the government and the police.
Your sons and daughters are at war,
With the Gurkhas again.

Maobadis with revolutionary flair,
With ideologies from across the Tibetan Plateau and Peru.
Ideologies that have been discredited elsewhere,
Flourish in the Himalayas.
Demanding a revolutionary-tax
From tourists and Nepalese
With brazen, bloody attacks
Fighting for their own rights
And the rights of the bewildered common man.

Well-trained government troops at the orders
Of politicians safe in Kathmandu.
Leaders who despise talks and compromises,
Flex their tongues and muscles,
And let the imported automatic salves speak their deaths.
Ill-armed guerrillas against well-armed Royal Gurkhas
In the foothills of the Himalayas.

******

Child Soldiers (Satis Shroff)

Nepali children have no chance,
But to take sides
To take to arms not knowing the reason
Against whom and why.
The child-soldier gets orders from grown-ups
And the hapless souls open fire.
Hukum is order,
The child-soldier cannot reason why.
Shedding precious human blood,
For causes they both hold high.
Ach, this massacre in the shadow of the Himalayas.

*****

Time Stands Still in Nepal (Satis Shroff)

Globalisation has changed the world fast,
In Nepal time stands still.
The blind beggar at the New Road gate sings:
Lata ko desh ma, gaddha tantheri.
In a land where the tongue-tied live,
The deaf desire to rule.
Oh my Nepal, quo vadis?

The only way to peace and harmony is
By laying aside the arms.
Can Nepal afford to be the bastion
Of a movement and a government
That rides rough-shod over the lives
And rights of fellow Nepalis?

Can’t we learn from the lessons of Afghanistan, Romania,
Poland, East Germany and Iraq?
The Maobadis will be given a chance at the polls,
Like all other democratic parties.
For the Maobadis are Bahuns and Chettris,
Be they Prachanda or Baburam Bhattrai,
Leaders who’d prefer a republican rule
To monarchy in Nepal.

*****

GUNS INSTEAD BOOKS (Satis Shroff)

My academic friends have changes sides,
From Mandalay to Congress
From Congress to the Maobadis.
The students from Dolpo and Silgadi.
Dolpo, unforgettable through Peter Mathiessen
In his quest for his inner self,
And his friend George Schaller’s search
For the snow leopard.
The students wrote Marxist verses and acquired volumes
From the embassies in Kathmandu:
Kim Il Sung’s writings, Mao’s red booklet,
Marx’s Das Kapital and Lenin’s works,
And defended socialist ideas
At His Majesty’s Central Hostel in Tahachal.
I see their earnest faces, with guns in their arms,
Instead of books,
Boisterous and ready
To fight to the end
For a cause they cherish
In their frustrated and fiery hearts.

But aren’t these sons of Nepal
Misguided and blinded,
By the seemingly victories of socialism?
Even Gorbachov pleaded for Peristroika,
And Putin admires capitalist Germany,
Its culture and commerce.
Look at the old Soviet Union,
And other East Bloc nations.
They have all swapped sides
And are EU and Nato members.

*****

About the Author:

Satis Shroff is a writer and poet based in Freiburg (poems, fiction, non-fiction) who also writes on ethno-medical, culture-ethnological themes. He has studied Zoology and Botany in Nepal, Medicine and Social Science in Germany and Creative Writing in Freiburg and Manchester. He describes himself as a mediator between western and eastern cultures and sees his future as a writer and poet. Satis Shroff was awarded the German Academic Exchange Prize for 1998.

Writing experience: Satis Shroff has written two language books on the Nepali language for DSE (Deutsche Stiftung für Entwicklungsdienst) & Horlemannverlag. He has written three feature articles in the Munich-based Nelles Verlag’s ‘Nepal’ on the Himalayan Kingdom’s Gurkhas, sacred mountains and Nepalese symbols and on Hinduism in ‘Nepal: Myths & Realities (Book Faith India) and his poem ‘Mental Molotovs’ was published in epd-Entwicklungsdienst (Frankfurt). He has written many articles in The Rising Nepal, The Christian Science Monitor, the Independent, the Fryburger, Swatantra Biswa (USIS publication, Himal Asia, 3Journal Freiburg, top ten rated poems in www.nepalforum.com (I dream, Oleron, an Unforgettable Isle, A Flight to the Himalayas, Which Witch in Germany?, Fatal Decision, Santa Fe, Nirmala, Between Terror and Ecstasy, The Broken Poet, Himalaya: Menschen und Mythen, A Gurkha Mother, Kathmandu is Nepal, My Nepal, Quo vadis?).


What others have said about the author:

„Die Schilderungen von Satis Shroff in ‘Through Nepalese Eyes’ sind faszinierend und geben uns die Möglichkeit, unsere Welt mit neuen Augen zu sehen.“ (Alice Grünfelder von Unionsverlag / Limmat Verlag, Zürich).

Since 1974 I have been living on and off in Nepal, writing articles and publishing books about Nepal-- this beautiful Himalayan country. Even before I knew Satis Shroff personally (later) I was deeply impressed by his articles, which helped me very much to deepen my knowledge about Nepal.

Satis Shroff is one of the very few Nepalese writers being able to compare ecology, development and modernisation in the ‘Third’ and ‘First’ World. He is doing this with great enthusiasm, competence and intelligence, showing his great concern for the development of his own country. (Ludmilla Tüting, journalist and publisher, Berlin).

Due to his very pleasant personality and in-depth experience in both South Asian, as well as Western workstyles and living, Satish Shroff brings with him a cultural sensitivity that is refined. His writings have always reflected the positive attributes of optimism, tolerance, and a need to explain and to describe without looking down on either his subject or his reader. (Kanak Mani Dixit, Himal Southasia, Kathmandu)

Satish Shroff writes with intelligence, wit and grace. (Bruce Dobler, Senior Fulbright Professor in Creative Writing, University of Pittsburgh).

satisle@myway.com


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