Two Autobiographies : Prof Veerankutty ( Poem Translation from Malayalam)

“Randu Atmakathakal” ; Original Poetry in Malayalam by VeraanKutty; published in Mathrubhumi Weekly, Onam Special edition, September 2014.

On reading it, I imagined the hundred rupee note mentioned  in it, as money in any denomination, in any currency, in any country in the world. The stories would remain the same- its own and ours.

A torn hundred rupee

Landed in my hand.



Weary and dirty.

I had purchased Gandhiji’s autobiography,

This was handed over as the leftover gain.

I tried to lodge it in between fresh rupees

And escape from it

Keep your trick  to yourself, they said.

When I left it at a busy cash counter

Someone caught my collar

And barked

I felt furious, ashamed.

Threw it inside my pocket

Wished to wash my hands

A hundred times.

It fluttered helplessly within my pocket

It leaned closer to my heart and whispered

In a voice which only I could hear:

“I have never hid inside a rich man’s pillow cover

Have been with the poor and the hard working

For a long time

With those you say, want to make you wash

A hundred times.

I had prayed that the dawn came much later

When I was inside the pocket

Of a thief who slept off.

The milk stain which spread over me

When a mother walked the street

To purchase medicines for her newborn

Is still not faded.

Within the pocket of the man who

Hanged himself

I was there, witnessing his death

Measuring it.

The fish scale from the fisher woman’s hands

The blood from the butcher’s hand

The crab meat curry stain from the toddy shop

Are tattooed over me

Like another skin.

In the gambler’s den and in the God’s coffers

I have lain equally calm.

Even though I disliked it

Was handed over as reward

After murders and pimping.

Through dark places

Hidden undergrounds

Touched by tears and sweat drops

Hit by spittle,  and human waste

Subtly and Openly

The path that I have traversed

Even your Mahatma

Might not have travelled.”

I sat down stunned

Unable to hear the story

Of a discarded rupee note.

I took it out from my pocket

And bowed before it

With absolute humility

Of someone who was deeply perplexed


The language-

Of the great book which was full of

Lives, I have never lived.