“Minda-Praani” , a poem by Prof. Veeran Kutty
( This poem won the Kerala Sahitya Academy Award recently)
Translation from Malayalam:
It is very convenient-
That the Dead shall not rise again.
Treat them with utmost disregard,
They will not raise a whimper.
That guy in the mortuary,
Who cracks open the skull
With a hammer,
He gives a damn
That it was once a man.
The lad in the stone quarry,
Will display more care and compassion.
Inside the gaping stomach,
Brains, liver and the ilk are dumped
Before the sewing: a sight to watch!
School kids will stitch up a torn ball
Better than that.
Anyone, can commit any atrocity,
On those bereft of refuge, right?
The House of the Dead
Can be identified by the tent
In the front yard.
Someone will drag an old, greying tarpaulin,
Someone else will stretch it haphazardly:
The edges and corners all awry.
The effrontery is because
The one to take umbrage has left.
The play tents made by kids will have more finesse.
It was his last chance to lie
That was snuffed out with two white drapes.
How resplendent he was during his wedding!
Never would a guest feel unwelcome in his home,
A more generous host was hard to find.
What of it, anyway?
Those who came to see him for the last time
Were offered neither a seat
Nor a drop of water.
While digging the grave, why was there
No space left for him
To turn on his side at least?
Who knows how long he has to be in there?
The relief that he has finally departed
Shall be celebrated by serving payasam*,
During the Feast for the Dead.
Everyone is busy competing
In his name,
To do all that he abhorred.
No wonder then,
That the Dead never return.
Payasam: a special sweet gruel made of milk, jaggery or semolina, cashew nuts, raisins et al.