I Want to be Killed by an Indian Bullet Poem by Thangjam Ibopishak Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


In the poem titled “I Want to be Killed by an Indian Bullet,” the narrator shares a surreal and thought-provoking encounter with symbolic entities representing the fundamental elements of Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Sky. The narrative unfolds with the ominous revelation that these elemental forces are actively seeking the narrator, a pursuit known to him through the voices of his children and wife at different times of the day.

About the Poet 

Thangjam Ibopishak Singh is a highly regarded poet from Northeast India, writing in the Manipuri language. Born in 1948 and based in Imphal, he has established himself as one of the leading voices in the region. His poetry tackles complex themes with a keen eye and sharp wit, often through a dark and satirical lens.

Ibopishak has published six poetry collections, three of which have garnered prestigious awards. His work delves into themes of social injustice, political conflict, and identity, particularly in the context of his homeland Manipur. Poems like “The Land of the Half-Humans” paint a stark picture of a society grappling with internal struggles and external pressures.


It is written in free verse, meaning it lacks a regular pattern of rhyme or meter. Free verse allows for greater flexibility in expression and does not follow the traditional rules of rhyme and rhythm found in structured forms of poetry. The poem “I Want to be Killed by an Indian Bullet” by Thangjam Ibopishak does not adhere to a specific rhyme scheme.


I heard the news long ago that they were looking for me; in the morning in the afternoon

at night. My children told me; my wife told me.

            One morning they entered my drawing room, the five of them. Fire, water, air,

earth, sky - are the names of these five. They can create men; also destroy men at whim.

They do whatever they fancy. The very avatar of might.

            I ask them: “When will you kill me?”

            The leader replied: “Now. We’ll kill you right now. Today is very auspicious. Say

your prayers. Have you bathed? Have you had your meal?”

            “Why will you kill me? What is my crime? What evil deed have I done?” I asked

them again.

            “Are you a poet who pens gobbledygook and drivel? Or do you consider yourself

a seer with oracular powers? Or are you a madman?” asked the leader.

            “I know that I’m neither of the first two beings. I cannot tell you about the last

one. How can I myself tell whether I’m unhinged or not?”

            The leader said: “You can be whatever you would like to be. We are not

concerned about this or that. We will kill you now. Our mission is to kill men.”

            I ask: “In what manner will you kill me? Will you cut me with a knife? Will you

shoot me? Will you club me to death?”

            “We will shoot you.”

            “With which gun will you shoot me then? Made in India, or made in another


            “Foreign made. All of them made in Germany, made in Russia, or made in China.

We don’t use guns made in India. Let alone good guns, India cannot even make plastic

flowers. When asked to make plastic flowers India can only produce toothbrushes.”

            I said: “That’s a good thing. Of what use are plastic flowers without any


            The leader said: “No one keeps toothbrushes in vases to do up a room. In life a

little embellishment has its part.”

            “Whatever it may be, if you must shoot me please shoot me with a gun made in

India. I don’t want to die from a foreign bullet. You see, I love India very much.”

            “That can never be. Your wish cannot be granted. Don’t ever mention Bharat to


            Saying this, they left without killing me; as if they didn’t do anything at all. Being

fastidious about death I escaped with my life.

The narrator of the poem opens by saying that he has heard that someone is looking for him. These people are represented by the symbols Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Sky. The fact that they are pursuing each other day in and day out highlights how sinister their mission is. The narrator receives the news from his wife and children among other family members.

The five beings that stand in for the elemental forces enter the narrator’s drawing room in the next few lines. The poet gives these elements a human form and gives them the ability to decide whether to create or destroy life. They are characterized as the epitome of power and might, with the ability to act arbitrarily.

Knowing that he is about to be killed, the narrator wonders why they would want to kill him. He wants to know what crime or transgression he has committed. The elemental group’s leader confronts the narrator, asking if he is a poet writing pointless or illogical poetry, a seer possessing prophetic powers, or even a mentally ill person.

The narrator categorically denies being a poet or a seer, but he also expresses doubt about his mental health, saying that he cannot be confident that he is sane. The leader brushes off these worries, saying that their goal is to kill people and that it doesn’t matter who the narrator is.

The storyteller queries them about how they want to murder him, namely whether it will involve a beating, gunshot, or stabbing. The leader makes it clear that they do not use weapons made in India and that they want to shoot him using foreign weaponry. He makes fun of India’s manufacturing prowess and draws attention to what he sees as the nation’s shortcomings by drawing comparisons between plastic toothbrushes and flowers.

The narrator makes a lighthearted comment on how unnecessary it is to decorate toothbrushes in vases. Then, out of love for India, he asks that they use an Indian-made pistol if they have to shoot him. The narrator’s demand is vehemently denied by the leader, who also orders him not to bring up India in front of them.

Remarkably, everyone leaves without performing their planned deed, leaving the narrator unscathed. In closing, the narrator muses over his escape and attributes it to his meticulousness over death. The poem incorporates existential reflection, humor, and a nuanced critique of national pride and identity.


The speaker of the poem opens by recounting how his wife and children informed him that someone was searching for him during the day. The elements fire, water, air, earth, and sky are represented by the five guests who enter his drawing room. These elements are said to possess great force and the ability to both create and destroy life as they see fit.

The speaker is nervous and inquisitive, wondering why they are there and when they intend to kill him. Citing the auspiciousness of the day, the gang leader replies that they plan to murder him right away and inquires about the speaker’s daily routine and religious beliefs. Confused and terrified, the speaker asks why he is about to die and wonders if it is because of his poetry, his prophetic gifts, or his apparent insanity.

The leader brushes these theories aside, declaring that their only goal is to murder people and that they don’t give a damn about the speaker’s name or line of work. The speaker is still skeptical about the cause of his impending death as well as the way it would happen. The leader says that they will shoot him with guns made in other countries, adding that even high-quality things like plastic flowers cannot be produced in India.

The speaker says that out of love for his nation, he would rather be shot with a pistol made in India. The speaker’s passion for India, according to the leader, is unimportant to their goal, and he forbids them from bringing up Bharat (India). Strangely, they go without causing any damage to the speaker, who considers his lucky escape and emphasizes how careful he was in the details of his death. The poem offers readers a reflection on life, death, and national identity along with a sense of uncertainty.