ChumaduTangi: Burden Bearer ( Poem Translation from Malayalam)

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Chumadutangi by Lakshmi Devi

( Translation from Malayalam)

The Burden Bearer:

Here, in front of the inn

Meant for wayfarers-

On this  Burden Bearer Stone,

Let me heave the bundle carried

By my weakening body till

Now.

The shoulder bone has

The greatest capacity to bear

Burden, it seems;

And Destiny again shoves

Unbearable weight onto

That today.

For a moment, I ponder

What it is that I carry, stumbling

Struggling onward,

Wrapped within the bundle.

Old sins, virtues

Or both equally divided?

Unknown it remains,

The Fate has filled up my bundle

For me to bear unquestiongly.

There is a bright lamp within,

The fragrance of camphor

As my dreams get enflamed,

The pains unabated, stirred deep

Leaving an oily drop beneath

The forbidden is inside, and the

Whiplashes for those mistakes

Committed unwittingly

The drops of tears which flowed

The red of a fresh wound

A Sun of a baby smile

The chirp of a bird, the breeze

In a shade so green…

I can no longer keep

My load on the stone

It is getting late.

Closing the inn’s door

The watchman too has

Hastened away.

The lonely road that stretches

Long, calls me quietly-

Walk on, until

You fall, losing

Your footing.

Darkness all around me-

Yet  I can listen  to those

Who are ahead of me:

‘ Move without fear!

Beyond the sooty darkness

Of this tunnel,

There might yet be light.’

***

In the olden days, Kings used to construct inns for wayfarers and also stones for bearing burdens. Without anyone’s help, the  heavy load on the villager’s shoulder could be heaved onto the heft of these stones.

Today, I watched again a classic  Malayalam movie called, Amritangamaya.

It is a line from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad…From death to eternal life ( Mrityoma Amritamgamaya).

In the movie,  one character was reiterating that the human shoulder bone is the strongest- designed to carry the Holy Cross of one’s life burden.

Flipping casually through an old vernacular magazine, I ended up opening the poem page where the sentence was repeated for me.

And then, I picked up a crayon, and a pen. These help in shouldering responsibilities with grace. Truly Burden bearers.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poems of Compassion : Shri. Veeran Kutty (Translation From Malayalam)

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1. The Heaviness of the Rain

If someone were to dislodge

A pot full of water over your

Head

All at once,

Your scalp will sting

Your breath will struggle

The song in your throat-

Will break, slide

And slip inexorably down.

Someone is emptying

The pot of the sky.

Splayed into multiples

Trickling  into  cloth-wicks

It gently

Touches us.

The moist threads

Absorb

All the heat

Burdening  us.

Someone

Picks up  our shocking failures,

Split them into  thin

Hair-like strands,

Places those

Feather-like

On our heads.

Someone

Who has rain

Within Him.

**

2.  The House of The Dead

No house in this world

Can equal the Taj Mahal.

Yet

There comes a time

Glorious:

When every house

Turns into a Taj.

When someone

Lost in an inexplicable

Helplessness,

Or otherwise,

Mutters to himself

That his home

Is like a tomb.

**

3. House

I know now

That there is no room for me

In this house.

What is a room?

Just a  stifling thought,

Of those within.

Something which suffocates

As you contemplate.

It is a mere possibility-

Which occurs when there is a wall.

How can you conclude

That the walls belong to the

House?

They belong to the great

Outdoors.

If the walls are not of the house,

There is no room.

Hence, no house either.

Look at the outdoors-

That is my room, house.

I am going home,

Do not call me back.

**

Poems of Insight: Shri. Veeran Kutty (Translation From Malayalam)

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1.

When those in love

Seperate,

Nothing really happens

To them.

Except

Two small deaths.

2.

How vast the sky

Of the bird

Not bothered about

When it will die!

3.

Lady who cannot see,

Who can call you blind?

Who has ever measured

The boundaries of your sight?

My colours-

Are seven in all.

How many for you?

My paths-

When hours four go past,

Hit a door.

You walk on still.

When it is named ‘bird’

When it is named ‘tree’

Whn you hear ‘depth’

When you hear ‘height’

You are seeing certain things

Unimaginable

To others.

You might be imagining

A dead man

As one walking by.

Lady who cannot see,

With your single glance

You have clothed

The nakedness of the whole world.

Those who meditate

Learn from those who cannot see:

This language

Of seeing God

With eyes shut.

Dear God!

I am the real blind one.

Why did you reveal my blindness

By giving me sight?

**

Vatsala’s Brilliant Preface:Her Favourite Stories…continued

 

img_1830Preface…….continued

**

‘The stitching machine’ is  a story about my own stitching machine. It is not just a source: the whole narrative is about the different experiences that it has gifted me. I still use one. The predecessor was taken away by a trader last year. He forced the new one onto me. No woman can let go easily of an appliance that she has been using for a while. The fate of both a spoon with its  edge broken off or a dilapidated stitching machine is the same. The grief of the woman is very genuine in both the cases. It can be seen as the holy remnant of an old culture. It is not applicable to today’s throw away culture- because, nothing is allowed to reach the satiation point at all. Hence there will not be a story related to a modern day consumer good- of having touched a human heart.

There is a special episode behind the writing of ‘ Vidyadharan.’ Once DC Kizhekkemury had told me that the dirtiest place in the world was Kashi. The stain stayed in my mind till I reached there. Once I saw Kashi, my whole life perspective changed. On one evening, having seen enough of other sights, we rented a boat and went along with MahaGanga’s flow. Gangaji was resplendent : a sea which removed all the dirt of the world.The flow swallowed all the agonies and kept the river eternally pure. A school of fish played alongside the boat merrily; like toddlers in a playpen. They raced back and forth touching our boat. Then, as if that was not enough, came the floating corpse. It would have terrified me had I seen it so in my home state.

Here, it was different. First I thought that a trunk of aloewood -chopped down by someone- with four branches on its sides, was floating on the waters. Soon it came near and travelled along the boat, occasionally caressing it. The fishes played hide and seek through the ruptures on the face. They emerged as a procession at times. ‘Who was this faceless one in his just concluded birth?’From this thought came the story,  Vidyadharan.’

From that day, I  have been able to look at death with equanimity. It is a miracle. My first encounter with death had been at twenty six, when my grand mother passed away. That was a serene experience: granny’s ending was like the  natural snuffing out of a lighted lamp. Probably this incident was a part of the treasury of experiences that I relied upon while writing this story.

What we see by the light of the sun need not be the real sight. The insight gleaned by the experience of the inner eye- that would be the truth. I recognised that. That is all. Here, I am stopping.

Vatsala, 2007

 

Her Favourite Stories: (Translation of Vatsalaji’s Preface)

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Ente Priyappetta Kathakal: Preface to her favourite stories

Translated From Malayalam

***

When I admit that certain stories of mine are dear to me, it is akin to admitting that I love one child much more than the others -among my  own children. Among stories, each differs from the other in terms of ‘craft’.

Every story is the preface to the life experience it holds within. That is because the space inside a story is restrictive. That which is unsaid is more than what is said. Consequently, some readers query – whether the story actually ended with the end of narrative. The truth is that every story ends in the mind of the reader.

The writer is a creator only when the story is being told. It is similar to human life. The poor fellow moves forward with certain aims: but what happens finally is beyond his control. Neither his desires nor his wishes have much role to play in it. I believe in ‘reaping what one sows.’

My beloved stories are those which were written when the mind was at its creative peak. Certain coincidences were the deciding factors of such experiences.

Let me elucidate on the process of conception of certain stories. ‘Panguru’ is a flower. It is seen at the Karnataka border of Tirunelli.I have never seen it with my eyes. Yet, I know a forest-healer, who made me feel its living presence. He is a vaidyan ( healer ) by tradition. When I met him, he used to disappear into the forests- not simply to gather medicinal herbs, but because he had nothing better to do.

He arrived at my cottage by the forest side, after such a wild sojourn. Just to see me. One cannot expect such gestures of affection in today’s city life. That is why I banish myself into the forests occasionally.

The young healer had the gift of narrating tales. Typically they were about his facing the wild tuskers. All fancies. Randomly there would be a gleam of truth. Once he narrated about climbing the Panguru creeper- while escaping from an elephant. His story would usually stretch into a series of stories. The cost would be around two hours of my time.

The Panguru blooms in spring. The creeper- thick as a human hand- climbs the most magnificent of the trees around. It will ascend to the very top on its quest to touch the sun. There it will burst into blossoms. It resembles the flowers of a palmyra tree. In our culture, the palmyra tree flowers are symbolic of a yakshi’s tresses. ( yakshi: a gorgeous and lethal female spirit). From this spark , my story was born. From a phantasmagoric seed sprouted a phantasmagorical story. Many years later- while reading a Kannada story- I found out that the flower in my story was actually real.

**( To be continued)

Koladu by Madhavi Kutty (Story Translation from Malayalam)

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Koladu ( The Goat):

By Madhavi Kutty aka Kamala Das written in 1969.

****

When she was forty three years old, her mischievous elder son remarked : ‘Amma, you remind me of a goat.’

She joined his laughter.But on that day, when the rest of them went out, she took up a mirror and sadly examined her own face. She contemplated on the ways of  fortifying her skinny cheeks to make them fuller; thinking that it might end up fortifying her life too. When she had her youthfulness and her lush body, she had never slept alone on a mat laid out on the floor….But she was disinclined to stare at the mirror for long, pondering on such matters. The milk was beginning to boil in her kitchen.

By toiling endlessly from dawn to dusk, she took care of her family. Her body was pale and slim, and  seemed fragile in certain places. But she never complained and never collapsed  with fatigue. Because of that, as she staggered from the bathroom to the kitchen and back -carrying buckets of water-neither her husband nor her grown up sons ever bothered to give a helping hand.

She was neither educated nor sophisticated.Occasionally, they would  loudly praise her famed abilities in cleaning and mopping the house, in cooking their food and in washing and ironing their clothes. Whenever she heard their adulation, she would smile- exposing her deteriorating teeth.

Once her younger son got her a goose berry when he returned from school. That day, standing in her dark kitchen, she shed tears of joy. With the passage of time, she became a disgrace in his eyes too.

When she said that she would accompany him for the school drama, he said: ‘No need, Amma. I will be embarrassed.’

‘But why? I will wear my silk sari- my wedding sari…’

‘No…No need for you to come.’

Two thin legs moved around in that small house constantly; never resting. Finally that machine also became faulty. She caught a fever and  her stomach started aching. Neither ginger nor rasam could assuage that pain. On the tenth day the doctor told her husband: ‘Please shift her to the hospital immediately. She has acute jaundice.’

The children who were reading their school books were horrified. When a helper wheeled her into the hospital room on a stretcher, she opened her eyes wide and cried: ‘Ayyo! I think the pulses are burning on the stove.’

Her husband’s eyes filled with tears.

****

Listen to this story in the original.

http://www.mathrubhumi.com/books/podcast/audio-story-koladu-malayalam-news-1.1472986

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glass Bangle ( Kuppi Vala by Sugata Kumary) Poem Translation From Malayalam

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Kuppi Vala( 1974, Sugata Kumary)

Glass Bangle

***

Listen, I have stood yearning

My eyes athirst

For red glass bangles.

Once, in my poverty stricken

Childhood

In an eventide, near a small shop,

Not daring to ask,

Holding my mother’s finger tip

I had stood-

Kissing the red glass bangle

With my eyes,

As my little heart wept within.

 

Years passed, I walked

Long distances,

Through many paths.

In my youth, in that passionate

Ecstatic time,  in front of you

My Love,

I stretched my slim, glistening

Fair Hands

And said,’Those shining red bangles-

Will you buy them for me?’

With a smile laced with contempt

As you hurried, you mocked:

‘Glass bangles! No shame?

Are you a kid? Tch!’

My heart and my face

Both  got scorched,

Withered fast.

I became yet again,

That small child

Holding her mother’s finger tip.

 

How many years have

Passed since then?

White stars have come and gone!

At the end of my long journey

In the darkness of my autumn

I sit remembering

Those  red bangles.

 

My shrivelled hands,

Exhausted with endless

Toil,

Never have they known

The redness of a glass bangle!

Never have they heard the sparkling

Laughter of one!

 

Still I find myself smiling.

Because, in my heart,

Few smashed glass bangles

Are scattered around;

And from the prick of a sliver

Four or five red drops

Are gathering within…

****

Note:

Perhaps one of the most perceptive poems  about loss that I have ever read , this  one touched me  rather deeply. How often our small yearnings are ruthlessly crushed by  the stark insensitivity of those who claim to love us.

How ironic that a woman  actually needs so little to feel truly loved. But that very innocence is derided often.  The  mockery of the ‘quixotic female mind…’ still continues…