Tabish Khair



(India – Denmark)






The truth is simply what silence evokes:

You find it shrouded in much larger noise,

Like Wordsworth’s flower by a mossy stone.

Unearth it carefully, a chip of bone

From times of the sort that Time destroys,

Free it of debris stroke by muffled stroke,

But put no label on what you have found,

For labels emit too immense a sound.


This fragment of … (what?) can only speak

If you restrain your hands, lower your voice,

Refuse to turn it into what you seek;

Do not weep over it, do not rejoice.

It has, this truth, a tiny crystal sound;

To hear it you need silence all around.






At one instant it seemed to be within my grasp:
Your love was a jewel I could reach out and feel.
It made me come alive as nothing had before;
I felt no need to keep it in a selfish clasp.
I knew it was something no one could ever steal,
It had no need for locks; it was a magic door.

I sit here now and think of what I would have found
If I had walked the way my heart still bids me go
(The closest word I know is « paradise »),
But here my body’s tied to a stake in the ground
Of many yesterdays and not one tomorrow,
And though it may implore and struggle, still it lies

In all the mud of language that turns doors to walls
And makes the best of truths, despite us, false.












Winner of the All India Poetry Prize and various prestigious fellowships, Tabish Khair’s recent novels have also been short-listed for the Encore Award (UK), the Man Asian Prize (Hong Kong) the Hindu Best Fiction Prize (India), etc. His latest novel is titled How To Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position; three of his novels, including this one, have been translated into French (and other languages). Khair was born (1966) and educated in the small town of Gaya in India; he now teaches in the small town of Aarhus in Denmark.

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