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?

**

Chuvadukal: Dance Steps /Poem by Shri.Veerankutty (Translation from Malayalam)

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Chuvadukal (  The Dance Steps): Shri.Veerankutty

(Malayala Manorama Annual Issue, 2016)

^^^

One should ask the hurricane

About the patience needed to teach

Ancient trees,

Dance.

The effort is lesser comparatively,

To teach singing to

The bamboo groves.

Still,

It is interesting to watch

How the tree solves the problem of

Inability to move its feet,

Through gestures.

The tree stares

With desire,

As the rain dances

A Tillana*

Its feet on the edges of

The fragile glass vessel

Of the Lake.

And daily,

The Karakattam*

Of the glass blades

Balancing the dew drops

On their heads.

The wind  that got trapped

Even as it started to dance,

Within a ball-

Is not letting  it touch

The ground anymore.

Having lost the ball,

The child stands crying-

Unable to follow

Its dance steps.

^^^^

*

Tillana- In Kuchipidi form of  classical dance originating in Andhra Pradesh, the dancer places her feet on the edges of a brass plate.

Karakkattam- In this folk dance form of Tamil Nadu, pots are balanced on the heads of devotees who dance around in praise of the Goddess.

**

Translations : Veeran Kutty Poems

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More translations from Malayali writer Veerankutty. From his book, Veerankuttiyude Kavithakal.

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Note: As a translator, I was struck by the spirituality and simplicity of the poems.

Having recently translated spiritual poetry  from saints across east and west, including the Sufis, I recollected the moments of admiring similar threads of gold from God’s tapestry of Love Poems.

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1. Until existence ceases  ( Illathakum Vare)

You

Should

Look at me,

Amid the trees.

I  would be

Looking at you too,

Likewise.

It is just to see,

Who would be the first

Among us

To dry up;

When summer

Arrives.

2.  Request ( Apeksha)

Dear God,

In case you are planning

To  banish me

From

Love-

Do give a hint,

Early on.

I have to make

Certain arrangements

Before death.

3. Precision ( Sookshmata)

Our love

Might escape

Deterioration

For quite a while-

Since you are

Already

Laminating it

With your tears.

4. In the same rain ( Ore Mazhayil)

Two separate births,

Ours-

In two different places.

Yet,

We can get drenched

In the same rain.

We can touch each other

With the same breeze.

Did we not become blind

In the same lightning?

Even so,

How can a small death

Ever

Obliterate us?

5. In Love( Pranayathal)

How long did this house,

Made of

Darkness

Survive?

Until

They arrived-

Blinded with love.

Now,

It has become

A house of light.

Little suns

Are at play,

In the front yard.

6. This lightning( Minnale)

Love,

Will make us sit on

Rods without insulation.

The vibrations,

Shall make our beaks

Touch each other.

Then,

Something like lightning

Shall pass through us both.

How can electricity elaborate

On what it feels like

When travelling through lovers?

Say, will it cease violence then?

Shall it cause the lighthouse- trees

On the sea shores,

To bloom out with flowers?

 

Obscene Words( Poem)/ Teri Vakkukal( Translation)

It is very intriguing to see subversive writing: as in iconoclastic thoughts, sometimes, brilliant writers take an ignored concept and turn it on its head, revealing the world within.

Dr.Clarissa Estes had, in her iconic book, Women Who Run With The Wolves, analysed the etymology of the so called obscene words.

Obscene- from old Hebrew,Ob, meaning a wizard, sorceress.

Dirt: Middle English, drit, probably from Icelandic- excrement. Now extended to obscenity.

To quote Dr.Estes, “…the obscene is not vulgar at all, but rather seems more like some fantastic nature creature that you dearly wish would visit you and be one of your best friends.”

Ahhhhh, serendipity, I murmured when I encountered this poem. Some thoughts, resonate across countries, across genders, across languages and cultures…

The contribution of  ‘Obscene Words’ in a human life, as examined by the Malayali poet Veeran Kutty.

TERIVAKKUKAL/ Obscene Words

Translation:

I was trying

to make a

Poem-chain

of beautiful words,

Melting them in the heat

Gracefully.

Unexpectedly, from somewhere

A word came in:

Copper hair all unruly

Nose dripping

The shirt wrongly buttoned

Seeming  a traveller of many lands, trembling…

Told me, it was an abusive word, driven away by someone

Never invited to a home,

Never allowed entry into writing

I felt like showing it affection,unseen by others.

Abusive word, dear one,

In how many fights, did you make

your presence felt-

Boiling within us?

When you danced on the tongue

The murderous knife,

Turned into one used for filing the nails;

The hand that was about to strike,

Embraced the other instead!

For secrets, which other mother tongue than you?

You unstripped the soul, and laying it down

Lit the fire of lust.

Though I berate you with a thousand tongues

Have prayed often that you will grace me from within.

‘ Enough,..enough…’ it said, as it struggled to get away

‘ You merely praise me thus,

Even you have never given me a space

In your poetry, till now.

The monuments that you build with

Beautiful similes, multi storeyed ones

Will get swallowed by the seas one day

But in hidden places of refuge, my huts shall remain, even then…’

Shouting thus,

With the steps of an ancient creature

It went down into the Forest of Language,

As I stood, watching.

 

****

 

Return Gift

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I was gifted a poetry collection of Veeran Kutty on my birthday. Some gifts have to be returned; albeit in another form. So I thought, I will translate a few lines that lighted up my way, and say thank you, to the loving hands that offered the lamp to me.

Expectation( Prateeksha)

I am grateful

For the expectations you had for me,

Till now.

 

Only God knows

The difficulty, I have had

In keeping them shiny

Till now.

Now those expectations have

Become a mountain

Leaving no space within;

If you could come and take back each

It would  be rather nice.

 

I have to start

then-

Expecting ,

A few things

Of my  very own.

****

Friend ( Changathy)

Today

don’t come as rain

to make me sprout life

If tomorrow

you intend to dry me up

turning  into sunshine

****

Without any reason ( Veruthe)

Do not think

the game of

the shadow

is silly-

elongating

and

shortening

itself.

Maybe-

it is trying to get over

the suffering

of

always being

under the same

person.

****

About You ( Ninne Patti)

I

was

a  worm,

when

I

slept.

I

woke up

as

a

butterfly.

Who

kissed

me

with so much

love

in

my

dream?

*****

( All mistakes of translation are mine…😊)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Autobiographies-Randu Atmakathakal (Veerankutty/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.

Stained

Faded

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

By

The language-

Of the great book which was full of

Lives, I have never lived.

***************