Empathy and Other Poems: Prof Veeran Kutty ( Translation From Malayalam)

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1. Empathy

Reiterate

A thousand times

The lesson:

‘ You are a stone!’

Make it believe that

It is nothing but a stone.

Keep reminding it about

The agonies endured,

Enroute the way

Of becoming a stone.

Make its innards burn

With the pride of being a stone.

Or else,

If a thirsty young child

Calls out pitifully

‘Water please…’,

It just might forget

That it is  lying beneath a monstrous

Foundation,

And step out.

*

2. After Death

Even after death,

We still grow,

Say the nails.

Just try finishing us off,

Opine the hairs!

All the Teachers

I needed were with me

All the while.

Yet,

I never considered

Bowing before them,

Ever.

*

3. The House of  the Bereaved

The stranger came searching

For the House of the Bereaved.

He turned all the houses

Wherein he stepped,

Into one.

*

4. Being Big

‘ Do come over!’

A small mound of earth

Can welcome an ant,

Encourage it to climb.

An impossibility

For a mountain.

*

5. Butterfly

Hey, butterfly!

Did you find it

Inappropriate

To have rested

On a bedroom wall?

It is duly proper

That you endeavoured

To convert a graveyard

Into a picture gallery.

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kishkindha Kanda -13 Bali Speaks…

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Doha:

Sunahu Ram Swami san chal na chaturi mori/

Prabhu ajahu maim paapi anthkaal gati tori//

Bali said: Hey SriRamji! You will not be deceived by my worldly tricks ( explanations)! Tell me, inspite of being near You  at the time of my demise, shall I remain sinful?

*

Sunat Ram ati komal baani/Baali sees parasevu nij paani//

Achal karaum tanu rakhavu praana/Baali kaha sunu Kripanidhaana//

Listening to the extremely pleasing words of Bali, the Lord touched the head of Baali gently.

He said, “I can spare your life, keep your body.” Baali said, Listen, Oh, Compassionate One!

*

Janam janam muni jatanu karahim/ Anth Ram kahi aavat nahim//

Jasu naam bal Sankar Kasi / Det samahi sam gati abhinasi//

Sages praise You in multiple ways in multiple lives. Yet many are not fortunate to utter thy name, ‘ Ram’ towards their end.

By the radiance of Whose name, in Kashi, Lord Shankara bestows moksha on everyone alike…

*

Mam lochan gochar soyi aava/ Bahuru ki Prabhu as banihi banaava//

That glorious SreeRamji himself  is ( You, My Lord ) gracing me with his presence now! Would such a fortunate time occur ever again?

*

So nayan gochar jaasu gun nit neti kahi Shruti gavahim//

Jiti pavan mann go niras kari muni dhyan kabahuk pavahim//

Mohi jaani athi abhimaan bas Prabhu kahehu rakhu sareerahi/

As kavan sad hadi kaatu surataru bari karihi baboorahi//

The One whom Shrutis praise  as ‘ Neti Neti’ ( Not this, neither that), The One , whom by meditation, saints  who control all senses, over coming limitations of body and mind, even so rarely attain a glimpse of- that Lord himself stands by my side! Knowing my conceit, you allowed me to keep my body! Tell me, who can be such a fool who chooses to willingly to cut off the Kalpataru( eternal tree) and plant thorny babool trees in its place? ( Why would anyone demand the boon of keeping this mortal body before the Giver of Moksha?)

*

 

The Smell and Other Poems: Prof Veeran Kutty ( Translation from Malayalam)

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1. Fear

I am afraid of those

Who have woken from their sleep-

Might grab hold of a weapon

In the next second.

You can trust those

Who are asleep.

They will catch hold

Of a weapon

Only in their dreams.

The dead, of course,

Are the very best!

Because

They can no longer

Kill anyone.

*

2. Smell

The day my nose was clogged

I wandered everywhere:

In the sick ward,

Which did not smell of diseases

In the city,

Which did not smell of rot.

In the streets,

Which did not smell of gun powder.

In the crematorium,

Which did not smell of dead bodies.

As I sat reflecting

On the advantages

Of not having my nose function,

My lady friend stopped by,

And handed me a flower.

*

3.  Fly Away

You seem like a bird

Caught unawares

Inside this home!

Are you feeling helpless ?

Flutter your wings!

Make the air trapped inside

The room dance a bit,

And then fly away.

*

4. About the Thread

We speak tonnes about the needle,

Intentionally forgetful of the thread!

Even after the needle passes on

Leaving behind bleeding wounds.

Even when we know the thread stays on,

Holding it all together.

*

5. Shiver

The bow shivers,

After sending the arrow forth!

Perhaps it got  the news

Of the task

The arrow accomplished.

*

6. Embroidery

This beautiful embroidery

Of the bouquet

Holds within

All the pain

Endured by the thread

While crawling through the needle.

*

7. Witness

God!

You really mistrust me,

Don’t you?

Of course that is why

You send along

This shadow

To accompany me.

*

8. Remnant

The page dealt with compassion.

By the light of the page, charmed

By the brightness of the words,

The insect must have meditated.

The next person shall discover

The remnant of an insect

From a closed book.

He shall continue reading-

Charmed

By the light of the page,

By the brightness of the words.

*

9. Solution

Pointing at the bay,

As the parents argued:

‘Sea!’

‘River!’

‘Sea!’

‘River!’

The little child looked

Alternately at both of them

Giggling,

‘Water!’

How easily she mediated a compromise

In that war.

*

10. The Wait

Hey Time, thou great forest!

How many more leaves to drop

From my tree?

Knowing it not,

My mind shivers

In apprehension.

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kishkindha Kanda: 12 Bali Questions The Lord

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Para bikal mahi sar ke lagem/ Puni ud baid dekhi Prabhu agem//

Syam gaat sir jata banaye/ Arun nayan sar chaap chadayem//

As the arrow pierced his chest, Bali fell in agony. But seeing the Lord walking towards him, he struggled and sat up

The Lord was blue-black hued , his hair was bound- in a jata, the eyes were red, and he wore his bow and arrows.

*

Puni puni chitayi charan chit deenha/Subhal janma maana Prabhu cheenha//

Hridayam preeti mukh bachan kadora/ Bola chitayi Ram ki ora//

Bali looked wonderingly at the Lord, and his heart was surrendered at the Lord’s feet.

His heart was overwhelmed, but his words were brutal. Looking at SreeRamji, he spoke thus…

*

Dharm hetu avatarehu Gosayim/ Marehu mohi byadh ki nayim//

Maim bairy Sugreev piyaara/ Avagun kavan naadh mohi maara//

Hey Gosayi! ( Mendicant ) You have taken this avatar to protect Dharma, and you  slyly slew me by foregoing it?

I am your enemy and Sugreev is your friend? Hey Lord! For what fault of mine have you taken my life?

*

Anuj badhu bhaginy sut naary/Sunu sad kanya sam a chaary//

Eenhi kudrishti bilokayi joyi/Taahi badhem kacchu paap na hoyi//

The Lord said: Hey Fool! Listen to me. A brother’s wife, sister, daughter-in-law and tender aged girl- they should be considered in the same way

Whoever looks at them with an evil eye, there is no sin in killing them.

*

Note: Baali had taken Sugreev’s wife Tara as his consort as per legends

*

Mood, tohi atisay abhimaana/ Naari sikhavan karasi na kaana//

Mam bhuj bal aashrit tehi jaani/Maara chahasi adham abhimaani//

Hey fool! You are such an egotist!  You did not even listen to the  wise counsel of your wife.

You arrogant creature! Even knowing that Sugreev was under my protection, you wished to kill him!

*

 

 

 

 

 

Kishkindha Kanda-11 ( As Kahi Chala Maha Abhimani)

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As kahi chala maha abhimani/ Trin saman Sugreevahi jani//

Bhire ubhau Bali ati tarja/ Mudika maari mahadhuni garja//

Saying thus, the proud Bali went away to the battle field,  considering Sugreev as a mere speck of dust.

Bali hit Sugreev with his fist and easily defeating him, let out a ferocious growl.

*

Tab Sugreev bikal koyi bhaaga/Mushti Praha are bajra sam laaga//

Mai jo kaha Raghubeer kripala/Bandhu na hoyi mor yeh Kala//

Sugreev was petrified and ran away. The hit by Bali he  felt was like Indira’s Vajra!

Reaching SreeRamji, he said- Lord, I had told you that Bali was not a brother but the God of Death/ Kala.

*

Ekroop tumh bratha dovu/ Tehi bhram tem nahi marevu sovu//

Kar parsa Sugreev sareera/Tanu bha kulis gayi sab peera//

Lord Ram said- Both of You brothers look alike. I could not recognise who was who, and hence I could not kill Bali.

Sree Ramji gently touched Sugreev’s bleeding body, and his body felt as strong as Vajra ayudha. The pain started ebbing away.

*

Meli kanda suman kai maala/ Padva puni bal deyi bisaala//

Puni naana bidhi bhayi laraayi/Bitap aut dekhahim Ragurai//

Then SreeRamji put a garland of flowers around Sugreev’s neck and sent him to battle, blessing him with enormous strength.

Both brothers fought again in multiple ways. The Lord watched from behind a tree.

*

Doha:

Bahu chal bal Sugreev kar hiyam haara bhay maani/

Maara Bali Ram tab hriday maach sar taani//

Sugreev tried many tricks and manoeuvres, but finally he lost his courage

Then SreeRamji Sen to his arrow forth which pierced the heart of Bali.

*

 

 

 

 

Kishkindha Kanda: 10 ( Bali Param Hith Jasu Prasada)

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Bali param hith jasu prasada/ Milehu  Ram tumh saman bishada//

Sapnem jehi san hoyi larayi/  Jagem samuchat mann sakuchayi//

Hey SreeRamji! Bali is my ultimate well wisher, because  he is the reason behind my meeting you- the destroyer of woes!

Now if I fight with him even in my dreams, I shall, on waking up, feel remorseful about it.

*

Ab Prabhu kripa karahu ehi bhanti/ Sab taji bhajanu karau din raati//

Suni biraag sanchut kapi baani/ Bole bihasi Ramu dhanupaani//

My Lord! Now bless me that I give up all worldly attachments and devote myself to chanting of your name, day and night!

Seeing the detachment which had taken hold of Sugreev momentarily, Sree Ramji, his bow in hand, smiled and replied…

*

Jo kacchu kahehu satya sab soyi/ Sakha bachan mam mrisha na hoyi//

Nat markat iva sabahi nachavat/ Ramu khages ved as gaavat//

Whatever you said is right, but my spoken words shall not be in vain ( Bali shall die and you shall inherit the kingdom)

Kakabhushundi says: ‘ Hey Garudji! The Vedas say that Lord  Ram makes everyone dance in this worldly play, like a  gypsy directs his captive monkey!’

*

Lai Sugreev sangh Raghunatha/ Chale chap sayak gahi hatha//

Tab Raghupathy Sugreev padava/Garjesy jaayi nikat bal paava//

After that, Sree Ramji with his bow in hand, proceeded from that place with Sugreev.

Ramji sent Sugreev to Bali, and he getting inspired by SreeRamji’s presence challenged Bali with a ferocious growl.

*

Sunat Bali krodhatur dhaava/ Gahi kar charan naari samuchaava//

Sunu pati jeenhi milevu Sugreeva/Te dvau bandhu tej bal seemva//

On hearing Sugreev’s challenge, an enraged Bali ran from his palace. His wife Tara, fell at his feet and started pleading with him.

Hey Lord! Listen, the two brothers that Sugreev has befriended, they epitomise strength and radiance!

*

Kosales sut Lacchiman Rama/ Kalahu jeeti sakahim samgrama//

Those two sons of Raja Dasrat, the King of Kosala, can defeat even Yama/ Kala( Lord of Death/ Lord of Time) in a battlefield!

*

Doha:

Kah Bali sunu bhiru  priya samadarsy Raghunadh/

Jaum kadhachi mohi marahim tau puni hovum sanadh//

Bali spoke- My fearstruck beloved, listen, Sree Ramji is  even tempered ( equanimous) ( ie, He does not favour one over another)

Even suppose that He kills me, I will  be attaining  His holy abode!

*

 

 

 

Stringing Words Together With Love

Excerpt from my daughter Sandra Nair’s novel, to be published in 2018.

ScientiaThe Knowing Link’

Dedication:

Richard Mitchell
A beautiful diamond among teachers.
An inspiration for generations of students.

Author’s Note (TO BE READ FIRST!)

I’m sure most readers would notice something familiar about the names of the characters- each of them is named after multiple scientists. I used more from the field of (theoretical) physics and mathematics than others. Call it a personal bias. After all, those are the two subjects I’m pursuing degrees in 🙂

My dear Dr. Richard Mitchell, I borrowed your name for one character (Who, btw, is nothing at all like you. After all, you love cats and cats love you!), and your personality for another. The character that I put the most emotional effort into, who also happens to be my personal favorite, Isaac Sklodowski, is (very loosely) based on you. I remember how fond you are of Mr. Isaac Newton (as seen in the first problem set for Math 20B, Winter Quarter 2016,  UCSC). I hope I did justice to your dedication as a teacher. Oh, FYI, readers can picture Isaac as David Tennant in the role of the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who, albeit with black hair and eyes.

This work is a fictionalized account of what happens when physics and spirituality encounter the first year of college in the US. I admit, quite a few characters and incidents were inspired by real life. If you recognize yourselves, but feel bad for whatever reason, please keep in mind that the only reason you are there to begin with is cuz I ❤ you guys. Every one of you. Yes, I suppose that includes my eleven-year-old sister, who is, believe it or not, an even more outrageous version of Julia the bionic cat.

Finally, the real girl behind Scientia has a very important message for the real boy behind Richard. She says, and I quote: “The theoretical physics you put in so much effort over the last couple of years, be it QFT or various mathematical methods, would be completely wasted in a corporate environment. Do a favor to yourself as well as future generations of scientists. Consider continuing in academia. We need more of those who are willing and able to share the knowledge they acquire.” She really means it sincerely.

Sandra Nair

****

Kathu, I am so proud of you! For not only being a good student, creative writer and a loving daughter (affectionate sister? Cough, cough! A cat got my nose:) but also a lovely, beautiful human being.

Life is a mixed bag. You might end up with  certain people and circumstances who do everything they can to laugh at your dreams and go out of their way to harm your interests. However, for each such person and set back, there will be a wonderful human being on the path ahead: an unexpected friend, a great teacher, a caring mentor…all from the Universe’s never ending bounty.

Stay rooted, stay creative, stay happy. Never under estimate your own inner light. It might kindle much needed light and warmth in many sensitive hearts.

Happy New Year. Happy New Book!

**

 

Heralding The New Year With Light

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http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/books/books-highlights-of-2018

And yes! In the fiction list for 2018, you find K R Meera’s novel, published by Penguin.

‘The Unseeing Idol of Light’

Translated by Yours Truly.

I remember reading aloud the first paragraph in  translation to my brother in December 2015. It was  one of the toughest phases of my life.

He smiled and said that it was beautiful. He also said that I would overcome the challenges.

From my side, this translation is dedicated to my  beloved brother.

Thank you. Both your predictions came true. It turned into a beautiful book. And yes, the darkness went away.

May glorious, lovely light spread out in all our lives.

May words thrive and flourish.

May we constantly improve in character and outlook, generosity and perspective.

May we learn to look at life anew, this New Year.

****

A Garland of Anecdotes…

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‘When in doubt, follow your nose’. That was Gandalf speaking, not me.

Introducing a child to the marvellous world of Tolkien, C.S.Lewis, M.R.James  and their ilk is an adventure in itself.  One is amazed at how much joy is out there, if only one reaches out!

True to all children, my young daughter sniffed haughtily when I suggested that we watch the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.’ I have seen Legolas already. I also remember orcs and dwarfs,’ she said, remembering ‘The Hobbit’ series.  Besides, whatever Amma suggests, should be treated first with a sniff.

True to all mothers, I ignored her upturned nose royally, and played the movie. Fifteen minutes into it, she snuggled closer. When the bed time came, she protested that it was unfair: she had to go to bed when the Nazgul chief – The witch king of Angmar- had just stabbed Frodo with his evil blade. I grinned and extended the bed time allowance till Frodo reached Rivendell safe.

Suffice to say that by this week, she knows everything about everybody in the Tolkien trilogy. My next attempt is to get her read the original. Her sister has taken the tome with her to University, so little girl waits patiently for the Return of the Book.

Meanwhile I got her ‘ The Hobbit’.

**

I am charmed by the quality of authenticity in people. Human beings who remain grounded in spite of what this worldly life had showered them with- both good and bad and all in between.

So this brilliant editor offers to read through my translation of vernacular poetry and give his feedback. He is kind enough to appreciate the few lines that I quote to him. I reflect on the quality of humility that binds both him and the original writer of the poetry.

In a few months’  time, we will see a poetry book in English take shape: thanks to a Bengali editor who gave feedback to poems that were originally written in Malayalam. It shall be published in Hindi heart-land.

A garland made of languages. The bridge to accessing human thoughts and becoming better versions of ourselves.

**