A strange problem
By Kunwar Narain

I have a strange problem these days
The power to hate with all my heart
Is ebbing by the day
I want to hate the English
(They ruled us for two centuries)
But Shakespeare sidles up
To whom I owe so much
I want to hate the Muslims
But Ghalib stands before me
Tell me, is it possible to stand up
To him?

I want to hate the Sikhs
And Guru Nanak fills my vision
And my head is bowed
And this Kamban, this Thyagaraja, this
Muthuswamy
A hundred thousand times I tell myself
They are not mine
They’re from some place far South

But the heart does not rest
Till they are made mine
And that lover
Who betrayed me the first time
I’d as soon kill her as look at her!
I do see her, but
Sometimes she is a friend
Sometimes a mother
Often like a sister
And I drink from the cup of love, and am still

All my days
I wander like a madman
In search of someone I can
Hate with all my heart
And ease it for a while
But precisely the opposite happens
Somewhere, sometime
I find someone
I cannot help but love
Day by day, this disease of love is growing
Rooted firmly in the fantasy
That one day my love
Will show me Paradise.

(Translated from the Hindi by Pratik Kanjilal)

This poem was first published on Annie’s wonderful blog.

Kunwar Narain is a leading Indian poet who writes in Hindi.