The Identity Card of an Unemployed Youth by Rajendra Bhandari

Name:                   Dhanbahadur

Father’s name:       Ranbahadur

Mother’s name:      Birkhamaya

Address:                Where Kanchanjunga can be seen

                              and if you walk a little you will find the plains,

                              where the streams sing folk songs,

                              where people mumble songs of grief.

Mailing address:      Any cardamom garden, rice field, tea garden,

                               cow pasture, hill meadow, bamboo thicket. 

Age:                        As much as fire flows in my arms,

                               as much as dreams flower in my eyes.


Attach a passport photo: here.

The photo should be like this:

your two ears should be visible,

one to listen to speeches in the bazaar,

the other to hear the laments of your home.


Your legs should not be seen

because you have nowhere to go.


Your chest should be seen, but the stomach should be left out.

Your photo, without a stomach but with a chest,

should be verified by some gazetted officer

with only a stomach and no chest.


That’s it, your identity card is ready.

Bearing this,

you can go anywhere without fear,

from Siachen to Kanyakumari,

from Chambal to Dimapur.

Go looking for a peg on which to hang your mind,

go looking for a plate to appease your hunger. 

From Shabdaharuko Punarvas (Gangtok: Shri Bhim Dhungel, 2010). Translated from Nepali by Michael Hutt.


Rajendra Bhandari is a Reader in the Nepali Department of the Sikkim Government College at Tadong in Gangtok.  He has published four collections of poems in Nepali, the first of which appeared in 1979. He has a doctorate in Nepali literature. Bhandari has won awards for his poetry, including the 1981 Diyalo Purashkar in Poetry from the Nepali Sahitya Sammelan in Darjeeling, the 1998 Shiva Kumar Rai Memorial Award from the South Sikkim Sahitya Sammelan and the 1999 Dr. Shova Kanti Thegim Memorial Award for poetry from the Shovakanti Memorial Trust in Gangtok.

Michael Hutt is Professor of Nepali and Himalayan Studies at SOAS( School of Oriental and African Studies), London. He completed a BA in South Asian Studies (Hindi) in 1980 and a Ph.D. on the history of the Nepali language and its literature in 1984, both at SOAS. In 1987 he returned to SOAS as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, and has been engaged in teaching and research relating to Nepal here ever since. He was Head of the South Asia Department from 1995-9, and has served as both Associate Dean (2002-4) and Dean (2004-10) of the Faculty of Languages and Cultures.The study of modern and contemporary Nepali literature is Hutt's home ground, and he is well known as a translator. However, he has also published on Nepali politics, Nepali art and architecture, censorship in the Nepali print media, and the Bhutanese refugee issue.  His latest completed work is a book length biographical study of the Nepali poet Bhupi Sherchan, which will appear in 2010 or 2011.  New articles on the abolition of the Shah monarchy and on the selection of Nepal's new national anthem are forthcoming.  In 2010 he will begin a major new research project on the construction of public meaning in Nepal. His publications include Himalayan Voices: an Introduction to Modern Nepali Literature (1991), Nepal in the Nineties: Versions of the Past, Visions of the Future (1994), Modern Literary Nepali: an Introductory Reader (1997), Unbecoming Citizens: Culture, Nationhood, and the Flight of Refugees from Bhutan (2003) and Himalayan People's War: Nepal's Maoist Rebellion (2004).