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Pa's Khasi Translation
00:00 / 01:57

Dear Descendant,

I/We am/are writing to you before I/we forget. 


I have been told; we came from the sky and landed here on earth
Between sky and land, a giant tree was a bridge. 

jingkieng jri

Our umbilical cord.

My/our ancestors clenched fists onto aerial roots.

We were born climbing down.
Entering this world with a duty,
planting our feet firmly,

to nurture, to tend, as stewards. 

to always know, we could climb back, to return. 

Here. We came to be.


Yet here, we are lost.
We landed and saw within ourselves an inability to tend
an itch within
We have marked ourselves as owners.

corrupted, we cut the tree, the bridge.
we forgot we could climb back into light.
we scarred ourselves.
We bear this scar so heavily.

Dear descendant, in this wounding. 

of tree, of us,
clasped within the scars that bind.
I speak into our darkness, a memory of light.
A memory of holding onto a world.
As stewards.
Dear descendant, we remember. 

Speaking, We Remember

1813 to 1831
18 years was all it took to etch sounds into ink.
Magic into roman alphabet.
A verbalization, not a speaking.

Tongues stopped. 

Rote replaced memory.
First the Gospel according to St. Matthew then the entire Bible then colonial law. Blocks of text sticking to our souls, the spoken word is published. 

Speaking is denied.


Dear Descendant, we remember. 

When we came to the earth, we all had a script, a word written and spoken. 

We all came literate. We all had voices. 

But we had to cross mountains and rivers to see the expanse of all there is. 

Then we lost our script. 

Our ancestor clenched scroll in his/her mouth

swam past treacherous currents. 

Midway, s/he swallowed the script. 

NGUID. To swallow 


We have no written script.
We had spoken word. 

Digested, our script was/is always within.

In us. 


Dear Descendant, we remember.
No matter the sound, you speak scriptures. 

Dear Descendant, 

I/we fear I/we have no sight of the bridge back.
In our wounding, we carry regret.
With our wounds, we hold each other closer. 

To heal. Together.
Stewards to each other’s pain. 


Dear Descendant.
I/we have been told;
When a person dies, they become smoke.
And their bones.
We wrapped in leaves.
With their bones.
We walked in ritual.
Till we found a place for them in the forest.
So that they may dwell.
In roots of trees. 

The bridge to climb
Back up and down again.

Dear descendant, I am sorry.
There is no place to set your bones.
There is not much forest left.

We are held in our wounds.
Our bones stitched together.

In regret. 

I/we speak to burnt leaf

Dear Descendant, 

I/we cannot mend a broken link
I/we offer as we speak.
A portal for you, me, us.
A tree. A bridge. A portal.

We sit here, listening for you, to you and we dream.
In our dreaming, holding onto our wounding.
We hope we find within ourselves a way to climb back. 

Dear Descendant, I/we offer Earth

Two friends

A canary in a coal mine. 

A warning 

A bird

Tiny, soft and warm

Human, a coal miner

Both alive, entering a cave. 

Earth carved into.
For profit. 

A coalmine.

Working away, digging coal and crawling for empire

A miner with a canary bird

Bird death as barometer for carbon monoxide

Birdsong and miner’s sweat

Songs and Sweat echoes into earthly cave. 

Bird and Miner became friends.


Dear Descendant, 

A mine is not big enough to hold us.
A mine is not a shelter. 

Extracting from ourselves
For empires. Daily. 

Money earned is money spent is money earned. 

It was/is/maybe for our own good. 

With bird, miner, our labor, our inability to break free. 


I suppose in our labor, 

in our work, 

once we wash ourselves tired. 

We pray you find it in you


To think of our grounding. Together. 

In this scarred earth.
Echoing our own scars.  

We exist if only to be friends and forewarnings for a future. 

We exist, as ancestors. 

We pray you find it in you


To dance and sing most days. 

Or feel the dancing and singing come out. 

"That feeling when,

 the world is collapsing, 

but the bass goes hard"

Hit the bass, if only to hear heart beating earth. 

Dear Descendant, I/we offer Fire

I/we have different names for fires

  thang bun

  thang plieh, 

  thang ingkhong

  thang khlaw


I/we don't know much about fire

burn it

light it

 control it

how pine needles flare

how a bigger fire is stopped

how to fight fire


In dry winter,

Walk into the forest

Fight fire

For things to grow again


A practice fading out

Because the fires are fought

Before the sowing can make sense

Because the fire is fought for the economy 


monocultures of broom

monocultures of pineapples

monocultures of tea

monocultures of ginger

monocultures of turmeric


The smoke feels wrong now

And the knowledge slowly dying


The only embers I used to light were tubes 

Thin paper tubes of tobacco

A sprinkling of green flower for the haze

I've stopped smoking since

Not so much that I was controlling the embers

Just trying to control myself
I offer fire. I offer a memory of resolve. 

Dear Descendant, I/we offer Water

The word for water, um
The word for melting, um

The word for tears, um mat, water from the eyes
The word for spit, um biah, sticking water

My grandfather taught me curses
To start from an inability to hold
A rage that tries to eat you up from within.
To spit it out and expel it.
Phuit. Phuit ka sabuit.
(Spit. Spit away the curse)

Before you melt into tears, also know that the fluids in your body are charged.
Spit. Talk Back.


A story.

A sunny noon near the end of summer. She will be the first to read. Her hands will grow to write, but now they trail scratches of skidded red skin. Itching thighs and itching knees. Chubby knees and thighs. She is 6 years old. Seated on her mother’s lap, her itch feels like a lifetime. In front of a hut, mother, and itchy child, squatting on grass. Soon a stocky, old woman appears. She looks at the child, “So where have you been?” She speaks strangely, half spit, half words. The child responds quickly, shy and afraid, “I don’t know.” She says, “we need to know where we’ve been.” Half spit, half grunt. Silence. Mother grabs her thighs and points to the marks. “A curse” and a round of sighs. Always a curse before the child forgets her tongue. Before she takes a foreigner’s tongue. Left shin, the deepest red, a circle the size of a one-rupee coin, the inner splotch like the foreign Queen’s head. Red and spreading like how tea spills on a morning newspaper. The old lady gets out a small, wrapped leaf from the folds of her wrapped skirt. Opening it, she then taps her wrinkled finger on a little white wet cream of limestone. She draws a white circle around the spot. Then begins… spoken words. Words jumbled into sounds, through more spit, anger, a swear word. The child giggles. Magic. Less and less itchy, less and less red. In 3 days, no spot, no itch, no circle. She went to school the next week. Her a, b, c, d, e, f, g… We wanted to learn, we let go of our curses. A grandmother remembers.

To talk back, to spit.
The charged water on your tongue.
Dear Descendant, I offer you rage. 

Dear Descendant, I/we offer Wind.

Wind carries sound
Grandmother, mimicing birdsong.
Iap Ka Para Rta O. The birds lament.
Kin has died.

Wind carries grief. 


Pillow against mouth, a scream.
It has never been easy.
And I am sorry. 


Wind against sheets of drying clothes

Cloth, woven, knot, quilted.
Heavy is the cloak that embraces us.

Wind against on cloth.
Wind that carries.
Dear Descendant. I offer you a moment to drift.

breathe in for 5 seconds. hold. 

breathe out for 5 seconds. hold

repeat 5 times 


to weave a portal

to weave memory

Project part of 
Web Residency: Algorithmic Poetry

curated by
Academie Schloss Solitude 
& Liquid Architecture

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