A Letter to Malayalam Poetry
Met you on the river one day,
Sat together for quite a while.
The river has a window, you said,
Through it I will fly away.
Kept remembering what you said
Even after I left you to reach my village.
If the river has a window, it must be a house;
If you wanted to fly away, it must be a jail.
I live among the poor,
In a hutment just like theirs.
Eat what I get.
Have to fetch water from afar,
Hear father calling me a dog.
Have to clear mother’s shit and piss.
Tins, sandals, bottles, paper,
My job is to pick and sell them all
People call me rag-picker,
Carriages refuse my knapsack.
Yet I called you.
You didn’t come.
I know your people:
Those like big buildings.
They locked you up
In stanzas and metres.
You saw the world through a hole,
Tripped and fell against household things.
Won’t forget the way you looked at me
As, decked in silks and smiles,
you sped away to the temple in a car.
Tired of it all, eh?
A girl may long
to see the woods,
to sleep in a thatched hut,
to wade through filth and slush.
She will burn in the sun,
catch a fever in the rain.
What you want is freedom, right?
That is all we have:
You can say what you like,
can bathe in the brook,
can chirp with the wagtails
visiting the compound,
can sit on a mat on the veranda.
Mother and father will
keep you company.
I will come rushing after work.
Can lie down on a supper
of gruel and sprouts
or just watch the sky.
Owl hoots should scare you,
Then I will cover you with love.
Translated by K.sachidanandan
When we part
When we talk about
Parting from the house
Everyone has his or her own affairs
This place has to be sold and divided among
The youngest daughter has to be married and sent out
Elder son left home long, long ago
Younger has reached nowhere
You too will go
Where shall we go in this old age?
We shall be dead and gone soon
Younger sister threads the needle
My daughter has been served rice
by her mother
she comes in between and touches me
Mother we too will part
And later die
Never will we unite in such a house
Shall we later ever meet anywhere?
Now the child runs around us