Kishkinda Kanda 26…Jambavan became thoughtful

jambavan

 

Ehi bidhi kadha kahahim bahu bhaanti/ Giri kandaram suni Sampati//

Baher hoyi dekhi bahu keesa/ Mohi ahaar deenh Jagdeesa//

Jambavan went on with his stories and anecdotes about the Lord. Sampati, who was residing in the mountain cavern, heard the tales.

He came out and saw the troupe of monkeys. He said: ‘The Lord has been kind to send food right to my nest!’

**

Aaj sabahi kah bhacchan karavu/ Din bahu chale ahaar binu maravu//

Kabahu na mil bhari udar ahaara// Aaju deenh bidhi ekahim baara//

Today I will repast on these monkeys. I have been starving for many days without food.

I could never eat to my fill. Today, God has sent me a bounty at one go!

**

Darpe geedh bachan suni kaana/ Ab bha maran satya hum jaana//

Kapi sab ude geedh kah dekhi/ Jamavant man soch biseshi//

Hearing the majestic old vulture’s mutterings all the monkeys became mortally afraid.  They were sure of their deaths. Jambavan (who knew about Sampati and Jatayu) became thoughtful.

**

Kah Angad bichaari man mahim/ Dhanya Jatayu sam kovu naahim//

Ram kaaj kaaran tanu tyaagi/ Hari pur gayavu param badbhaagi//

Angad spoke measured words: ‘Who is more blessed than Jatayu? He sacrificed his physical form for the Lord’s task and went to the Lord’s abode.’

Note: We can confidently surmise that Jambavan must have prompted Angad to speak thus.  Valorous Jatayu, Sampati’s younger brother, had fought with Ravan trying to save Sitaji. Ravan cut off his wings and Jatayu fell uttering ‘Ram, Ram!’

**

Suni khag harash sok jut baani/ Aava nikat kapinh bhay maani//

Tinhahi abhay kari puchesi jaayi/ Kadha sakal tinh taahi sunaayi//

Listening to the words replete with sadness and joy, the venerable bird king came near the monkeys. They got terrified.

Assuring them of no harm, Sampati enquired about his brother Jatayu’s story. Then the story of Jatayu’s martyrdom was narrated to him reverently.

**

Suni Sampati bandhu kai karni/ Raghupathy mahima bahubidhi barni//

Hearing about his brother’s sacrifice, Sampati rhapsodized about the greatness of Lord Ram.

**

Doha

Mohi lai jaahu sindhu tat devu tilanjali taahi/

Bachan sahayi karabi mai paihahu khojahu jaahi//

Sampati said: ‘Take me the ocean shore. Let me do the Tilanjali (customary rites of death) of my departed brother.’

‘And as a repayment for that help, let me help you with my words. The one you are searching for, you shall find.’

Note:  Help you with my words aka ‘I shall tell you where Janakiji is at present.’

Anuj kriya kari sagar teera/ Kahi nij kadha sunahu kapi beera//

Hum dwau bandhu pradham tarunayi/ Gagan gaye rabi nikat udayi//

After conducting the rites for his younger brother at the shore, Sampati told them his story.

‘In our arrogant youth, both Jatayu and I went flying near the sun!’

**

Tej na sahi sak so phiri aava/ Mai abhimaani rabi niaraava//

Jare pankh athi tej apaara/ Parevu bhoomi kari ghor chikaara//

Jatayu couldn’t stand the blazing heat and he returned. But I was vain and went near the sun.

My wings were burnt due to the intense heat. With a huge shriek I dropped all the way down to the earth.

Note: The story of Daedalus and Icarus is worth remembering here!

**

Muni ek naam Chandrama ohi/ Laagi daya dekhi kari mohi//

Bahu prakar tehim gyan sunaava/ Dehjanith abhinath chadaava//

There, where I fell, resided a sage named Chandrama. He felt deeply compassionate at my sight.

He gave me lessons on wisdom and freed me from my vanity and egoism.

**

Tretam Brahma manuj tanu dharihi/ Taasu naari nisichar pati harihi//

Taasu khoj padihi prabhu doota/ Tinhahi milem taim hob puneeta//

(He said) ‘ In the Treta Yug, Prabrahma shall take the avatar of a human being. His wife shall be kidnapped by the King of Asuras.

The Lord shall send forth his messengers in search of her. When you meet them Sampati, you shall gain divine grace.

**

Jamihahim pankh karasi jani chintha/ Tinhahi dekhayi dehesu taim Sita//

Muni kayi gira bhayi aaju/ Sun imam bachan karahu prabhu kaaju//

‘And your wings shall sprout anew, do not worry! You should guide them to Sitaji.

The sage’s words have come true. Now listen to me and fulfill the Lord’s task!’

**

Giri trikut upar bas Lanka/ Tah rah Raavan sahaj asanka//

Tah asok upban jah rahayi/ Sita baidi soch rath ahayi//

The city of Lanka is situated on the mountain Trikuta. The fearless Ravan resides there.

There, in the Asoka Upavan (garden) Sita resides. Now she sits, thoughtful and sad.

**

Doha

Mai dekhavu tumh naahim geedhahim drishti apaar/

Boodh bhayavu na ta kartevu kachuk sahay tumhar//

I can see her, you cannot. A vulture can see long distances.

If I hadn’t been so old, I would definitely have helped you.

**

24 Kishkinda Kanda…A woman meditating

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(Rare photoes of Balmik Ramayan translated from Sanskrit to Persian by Sumer Chand…1715 A.D.  Reference: Raza Library, Rampur, Uttar Pradesh)

Doha:

Bachan sunat sab banar jah tah chale turant/

Tab Sugreev bolaye Angad Nal Hanumant//

Hearing Sugreev’s command, the monkeys dispersed to various directions to search for Sitaji.

Then Sugreev called his most important soldiers like Angad, Nal, Hanuman (Neel, Jambavan et al) to his side.

**

Sunahu Neel Angad Hanumana/Jambavat matidheer sujana//

Sakal subhat mili dacchin jaahu/ Sita sudhi puchehu sab kaahu//

Hey brave and valorous Neel, Angad, Hanuman, Jambavan!

All of you extraordinary warriors should move south and ask everybody about Sitaji.

**

Man kram bachan so jatan bicharehu/ Ramchandra kar kaaju samvarehu//

Bhanu peedi seyia ur aagi/ Swamihi sabr bhav chal tyagi//

Your minds, words and deeds shall focus on getting information about Sitaji. Ensure that the task given to us by Sri Ramji gets done successfully.

We turn out backs to the sun and we always face the fire. The task of the Lord deserves total dedication with no hypocrisy in one’s self (mind, words or deeds!)

**

Taji maya seyia parloka/ Mitahim sakal bhavsambhav soka//

Deh dhare kar yeh bhal bhai/ Bhajia Ram sab kam bihai//

Rejecting the desires created by Maya, one should try to serve the divine Lord. That shall erase the interminable fears associated with the birth and death cycles.

The very purpose of obtaining a mortal body is to leave aside all desires and to meditate on the Lord!

**

Soyi gunagya soyi badbhaagi/ Jo Raghbeer charan anuraagi//

Aayasu maagi charan siru naayi/Chale harashi sumirat Raghuraayi//

The one filled with good qualities and the one is most fortunate is that person who is Lord Ram’s devotee (who holds onto His feet)

After bowing their heads and getting the command, all of them left, reflecting on Lord Ram’s grace.

**

Pachem pavan tanay siru naava/ Jaani kaaj prabhu nikat bolava//

Parsa sees saroruh paani/ Karmudrika deenhi jan jaani//

Hanuman was last in the line. The Lord called him to his side.

He touched Hanuman’s head with his blessed hand. He removed the ring from his finger and gave it to Hanuman knowing him to be a great devotee.

**

Bahu prakar seetahi samuchayehu/ Kahi bal birah begi tumh aayehu//

Hanumat janm subhal kari maana/ Chaleyu hridayam dhari kripanidhaana//

‘Explain to Sita about my love for her (how much I miss her) and about my strength (I shall retrieve her) and return soon.

Hanumanji felt that his birth was fulfilled. Carrying the Lord of Compassion in his heart, he left the place.

**

Jadhapi prabhu jaanat sab baata/ Rajneeti rakhat surtraata//

Though the Lord of all Devas is omniscient, he is protecting the Rajneeti aka The Art of Ruling.

(He knows everything yet in his human avatar, he is a just king following the lawful dictates of ruling and statecraft.)

**

Doha

Chale sakal ban khojat sarita sar giri khoh/

Ram kaaj layleen man bisra tan kar choh//

The monkeys searched high and wide in the forests, rivers, lakes, mountains and caves.

Their minds are utterely immersed in the divine task assigned by Lord Ram. They have forgotten even their bodily attachment.( Even the thirst and hunger of their bodies do not deter them for a moment.)

**

Katahu hoyi nisichar saim bheta/ Pran lehim eke k chapeta//

Bahu prakar giri kanan herahim/ Kovu muni milayi taahi sab gherahim//

Wherever they encountered a rakshasa, they took his life in one blow.

They started searching the forests and mountains relentlessly. If they meet a wandering sage, they immediately surround him to enquire about Sitaji’s whereabouts.

**

Laagi trisha atisay akulane/ Milayi na jal ghan gahan bhulane//

Man Hanuman keenh anumana/ Maran chahat sab binu jal pana//

All were thirsty and consequently were under stress. They could not find water anywhere.

In the forests they were almost lost. Hanumanji understood that they would all die without drinking water.

**

Chadi giri sikhar chahu dekha/ Bhoomi bibar ek kautuk pekha//

Chakrabaak bak hans udaahim/ Bahutak khag prabisahim tehi maahim//

He leapt up the mountain peak and looked around. Then he saw a curious sight.

Many birds were entering an opening into the earth, and chakravak, swans, cranes etc were flying out through the entrance.

**

Giri te uteri pavansuta aava/ Sab kahu lai soyi bibar dekhava//

Aagem kai Hanumantahi leenha/ Paide bibar bilambu na keenha//

Hanuman descended and took all the monkeys to the great opening.

There without delay, he entered the cave, leading from the front.

Doha

Deekh jaayi upban bar sar bigasith bahu kanj/

Mandir ek ruchir tah baidi naari tap punj//

When they went inside, they saw a beautiful garden and lake resplendent with lotuses. There was a temple nearby and a woman deep in meditation was found seated there.

**

 

 

Kishkinda Kanda…Hearing about a furious Laxman…22

ramdurbar

Charan nayi siru binate keenhi/Lacchiman abhay baah tehi deenhi//

Krodhvanth Lacchiman suni kaana/ Kah kapees ati bhay akulaana//

Angad paid obeisance at the feet of Laxman. Then Laxman pulled him up warmly and reassured him. (Do not fear!)

Sugreeva, meanwhile, heard about the anger of Laxman and became petrified.

**

Sunu Hanumant sangh lai Tara/ Kari binate samuchayi kumara//

Tara sahit jaayi Hanumana/ Charan bandi prabhu sujas bakhana//

(Sugreeva said ) ‘Listen Hanuman, take Queen Tara with you! Apologise to the Lord and appease him!

Hanumanji and Tara went to Laxman and bowing before him,  sincerely praised the greatness of Lord Ram.

**

Kari binate mandir lai aaye/ Charan pakhari palank baidaye//

Tab kapees charananhi naava/ Gahi bhuj Lacchiman kand lagaava//

They ushered him to the palace politely. After washing Laxmanji’s feet (welcoming ritual) they offered him a seat.

Sugreeva came in and lay prostrate at Laxman’s feet. Laxmanji got up and embraced him.

**

Nadh bishay sam mad kachu nahim/ Muni mann moh karayi chan mahim//

Sunat bineet bachan such paava/ Lacchiman tehi bahu bidhi samuchaava//

(Sugreeva said) ‘Lord, there is nothing as addictive as sensual pleasures. Flesh and its pleasures can provoke even the greatest of saints in a moment!’ (And I am such a worldly creature who got caught by these entanglements and foolishly forgot my assigned task!)

Laxmanji was calmed by the sincerity and politeness of those words. He consoled Sugreeva.

**

Pavan tanay sab kadha sunaayi/ Jehi bidhi gaye doot samudaayi//

Then Hanuman appraised Prince Laxman about how groups of messengers had been dispatched to various directions to search for allies.

**

Doha

Harashi chale Sugreev tab Angadadi kapi sath/

Ramanuj aagem kari aaye jeah Raghunath//

Laxman led the way and following him, Sugreev, Angad and others went to meet Lord Ram.

**

Nayi charan siru kah kar jori/ Nadh mohi kachu naahin khori//

Atisay prabal dev tav maya/ Chutayi Ram karahu jaum daaya//

Bowing before Lord Ram’s feet and folding his hands Sugreev said as follows…

‘ Lord, I am not to be blamed for my stupidity! Your worldly maya (illusion) is so strong; and one can escape from its clutches only when you take compassion on your devotee!’

**

Bishay basya sur nar muni swami/ Mai paavar pasu kapi ati kaami//

Naari nayan sar jaahi na laaga/ Ghor krodh tam nisi jo jaaga//

‘Hey Lord! The Devas, the humans and the sages are enraptured by maya! And I am nothing but an inferior animal and that too a lowly monkey!’

‘Only the one who cannot be conquered by the arrow tip of a woman’s glance can remain untouched by blind fury.’ (He will stay awake even in the dark night of anger.)

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kishkinda Kanda…20 The fishes in the depths…

lake

Sukhi meen je neer agadha/ Jimi Hari saran na ekavu badha//

Phoolem kamal soh sar kaisa/ Nirgun Brahma sagun bhaiye jaisa//

Those fishes which are swimming in the depths of the waters are safe; like the devotees of Sri Hari who are hindered by nothing.

The blooming lotus makes the lake glorious; the Nirgun Brahma ( neither good or bad qualities) becomes magnificent on attaining Saguna ( good qualities)

**

Gunjat madhukar mukhar anoopa/ Sundar khag rav nana roopa//

Chakrabak man dukh nisi pekhi/ Jimi durjan par sampati dekhi//

The honey bees are buzzing around making unique sounds. The beautiful birds can be heard making multitude of cooing sounds.

On seeing the night the Chakravaka bird (Brahmini Goose) is so unhappy; like the envious person is filled with misery on seeing another’s prosperity!

Note: The Chakravaka bird pair is supposed to fly together during the day and separate at night owing to a curse.

**

Chatak ratath trisha athi ohi/ Jimi sukhi lahai na sankardrohi//

Sardatap nisi sasi apaharayi/ Sant daras jimi patak tarayi//

The Chatak bird is calling out as if in throes of thirst.  It is akin to those foes of  Lord Shiv shrieking helplessly for peace.

The fierce heat of the Sarad is conquered by the cool moon at night. It is similar to sins disappearing at the sight of saints.

Note: Papiha or Chatak bird is the common hawk-cuckoo also known as the brain-fever bird for its incessant piping notes.

**

Dekhi indu chakor samudai/ Chitavahi jimi harijan hari paayi//

Masak dams beete him traasa/ Jimi dwij droh kiyem kul naasa//

The group of Chakor birds is gazing at the moon with such intensity which brings to mind the devotees of Hari getting a darsan of Lord Vishnu himself!

The mosquitoes and night bugs have fled in terror of the impending cold. If one troubles an evolved being, the whole clan can come to nought.

Note: Chakor bird or Chukar patridge is famed to be in love with the moon. Poets sing about its unrequited love and how it drinks the moon beams!

**

Doha:

Bhumi jeev sankul rahe gaye sarad ritu paayi/

Sadgur mile jaahi jimi samsay bhram samudayi//

The flurry   of living organisms which thrived in the rainy season has disappeared at the onset of the autumn.

It is akin to the clutter of doubts and queries disappearing  when one gains a true Guru.

**

Barsha gat nirmal ritu aayi/ Sudhi na tat sita kai paayi//

Ek baar kaisehu sudhi janau/ Kalahu jeeti nimish mahu aanau//

(Lord Ram says) ‘The monsoons have gone; the serene autumn has set in. Yet there is no news about the whereabouts of Sitaji.

If one gets any clue about the location, I will fight the Lord of Death, Kaal himself and bring Janakiji back in a moment!’

**

Katahu rahau jaum jeevit hoyi/ Tat jatan kari aanau soyi//

Sugreevahu sudhi mori bisaari/ Paava raj kos pur naari//

‘If she is alive and living on any part of the world, I shall endeavour to bring her back, brother!

Sugreev has forgotten my request for his assistance since obtaining his kingship,  the treasury, the city and the woman.’

**

 

 

 

 

Kishkinda Kanda…Continued..19

picture

Dekhiat chakrabak khag naahim/ Kalihi payi jimi dharm paraahim//

Usar brashayi trin nahim jaama/ Jimi harijan hiyam upaj na kaama//

One cannot sight the Chakravak bird anywhere; it has fled like Dharma in Kaliyug!

In a barren land, in spite of the heavy rains, not even a shoot of grass sprouts. The analogy is of a devotee of Hari, whose mind is unmoved by desires.

**

Bibidh janthu sankul mahi braaja/ praja baad jimi payi suraaja//

 Jah tah rahe padhik dhaki naana/Jimi indriya gan upajem gyaana//

The earth looks splendid with variety of flora and fauna.  It is like a prosperous kingdom where the citizens thrive with good governance.

One can see many travelers resting by the wayside, all enervated. It reminds one of how- by gaining an inner awakening- the tendency of the senses to be beguiled by sensualities cease.

**

Doha

Kabahu diwas mah nibid tam kabahuk  pragat patang/

Binsai upajai gyan jimi payi kusangh susangh//

Sometimes (due to rainclouds), even in daytime it becomes greatly dark, and sometimes the sun appears;

It is akin to wisdom disappearing in the companionship of the wicked, and reappearing in that of the good.

**

Doha

Kabahu prabal bah marut jah tah megh bilahim/

Jimi kapoot ke upajem kul saddharm nasaahim//

Sometimes due to a violent storm, the clouds vanish from sight;

When an evil progeny is born in a family, the fame and name of the clan soon disappears.

**

Barsha bigat sarad ritu aayi/ Lachiman dekhahu param suhayi//

Bhoolem kaas sakal mahi chaayi/ Janu barshaam krit pragat budayi//

Hey Lakshman! Look, the rains have receded and the beautiful Sharad season (autumn) has arrived. The white petals of the Kaas are covering the earth.

It seems as if the rainy season has announced its old age by showering the -white hair like- swirls of Kaas flowers.

Note: Month of Sharad refers to August-October period encompassing the months of Bhadrapada and Ashwin

**

Udit Agasthy pandh jal sosha/ Jimi lobhahi soshayi santhosha//

Sarita sar nirmal jal soha/ Santh hriday jas gat mad moha//

Like the rising of the Star Agastya calms the turbulent waters, the heart is calmed by happiness and greed is removed;

The waters of the rivers and lakes are radiant like the hearts of sages-free of lust and desires.

Note: Star Canopus aka Agastya is called ‘The cleanser of the waters ‘.

**

Ras ras sookh sarith sar pani/ Mamta tyag karahim jimi gyani//

Jaani sarad ritu khanjan aaye/ Paayi samay jimi sukrit suhaaye//

The waters of the river and ponds are drying up slowly. It is akin to a mature person giving up attachments.

The wagtail has appeared heralding the autumn. It is like the advent of auspicious tidings.

**

Pank na renu soh asi dharni/ Niti nipun nrip kai jasi karni//

Jal sankoch bikal fai meena/ Abudh kutumbi jimi dhanheena//

There is neither clay nor dust; earth is resplendent like the deeds of a righteous ruler.

Due to lack of water, the fishes are troubled; like the foolish householder gets worried over lack of money.

**

Binu dhan nirmal soh akaasa/ Harijan iva parihari sab aasa//

Kahu kahu brishti saardi dhori/ Kovu ek paav bhagati jimi mori//

Without the inkling of any cloud, the sky is so pristine in appearance. It is similar to how the devotees of God are radiant when they give up worldly desires.

The autumnal rains are falling in very few places; similarly very few attain true devotion to me in their lives.

**

Doha :

Chale harashi taji nagar nrip tapas banik bhikhari/

Jimi haribhagati payi shram tajahim ashrami chari//

(At the onset of the month of Sarad) Raja, sanyasi, merchant and beggar, in search of victory, salvation, commerce and bhiksha respectively, have left the city.

It is like the bhaktas of SriHari- engaged in the four Dharmic ashramas of Brahmacharya, Grihastya, Vanaprastha and Sanyasa – are detachedly doing their duties while devoted  to the Lord.

**

18. Kishkindha Kanda…Dekhiat chakrabaak khag naahim

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Mahabrishti chali bhooti kiyaarim/ Jimi sutantra bhaye bigarahim naarim//
Krishi niraavahim chatur kisaana/ Jimi buddh tajahim moh mad maana//

In the pouring rains, the boundaries of the farms are getting broken, it is akin to certain souls going astray crazed with untramelled freedom
The farmers are removing weeds from their fertile lands, like the wise man removes desire, selfishness and ego from within himself
*
Dekhiat chakrabaak khag naahim/ Kalihi paayi jimi dharma paraahim//
Ushar barshayi trin nahim jaama/ Jimi Harijan hiyam upaj na kaama//

The Chakravak bird is not to be seen anywhere, it has disappeared like Dharma on the onset of Kaliyug! On the infertile lands, the rain falls intensely, but not even a blade of grass sprouts there…It is like the heart of a Vishnu devotee which will never be fertile ground for Kama ( desire)
*
Bibidh jantu sankul mahi bhraaja/ Praja baad jimi payi suraaja//
Jah tah rahe padhik dhaki naana/Jimi indriya gan upajem gyaana//

The earth is resplendent with a variety of living creatures, similar to the prosperity of citizens living in a good, spiritually evolved land. The travellers can be seen resting at different places, like the senses desisting from seeking out sensory objects due to the awakening of wisdom.
*

Doha:

Kabahu prabal bah marut jah tah megh bilaahim/
Jimi kapoot ke upajem kul sandarm nasaahim//

The wind blows with such force that the clouds scatter hither and thither, it is akin to the clan’s honour getting lost when the family  begets morally weak characters as progeny.
*

Kabahu diwas mah nibid tam kabahuk pragat patang/
Binasayi upajayi gyaan jimi paayi kusangh susangh//

Due to the heavy clouds, darkness falls in daytime, and sometimes the sun appears. It is like a man’s wisdom getting clouded in the company of bad souls and then emerging again, in the worthy company of the good.
*

Neypayasam: Madhavi Kutty ( Story Translation from Malayalam ) Part 2

Was it likely that the children had slept? Had they eaten something? Had they cried themselves to sleep? They were not mature enough to grieve. Or would Unni have stood staring when he had hurriedly carried her into the taxi? The little one had cried, because he insisted on boarding the taxi too. He had not comprehended the meaning of death.

Had he known himself? No. Had he ever suspected that she- always present in that house- would one day drop dead on the ground?  That too without bidding farewell to anyone?

He had peeped through the kitchen window when he had returned from the office. She was not there. The sounds of the children playing had risen from the courtyard. Unni was yelling, ‘ First class shot!’

He had opened the front door with his key. Then he had caught sight of her. She was lying  sideways, with her mouth slightly open. He had assumed that she had fallen unconscious due to dizziness. But the doctor had given the verdict at the hospital :

‘ Heart attack. She has been dead the past one hour or so.’

A deluge of emotions had engulfed him. He had felt unreasonably angry at her. How could she have just left like that, leaving all the responsibilities on his shoulders? Who would give bath to the kids now? Who would make them snacks? Who would take care of them when they fell sick?

‘My wife is dead,’ he  had murmured to himself. ‘ Because of the unexpected demise of my wife due to heart attack today, I request for two days leave.’ What a fine leave application that would be! It was not stating that his wife was sick; instead, it said that she was dead!

Perhaps his boss might call him to his cabin. ‘ My deepest condolences!’ He might say. Ha! His condolences, indeed! He had never known her. Her hair that curled at the tips, her tremulous smile, the soft gait… the boss had known nothing! Those were his losses….his alone.

When the door opened, the youngest child came scampering to him.

‘ Amma has not returned,’ he chirped.

How was it possible that they had forgotten everything so soon? Did he expect the body carried into that taxi, to return by itself?

He walked towards the kitchen, holding his son’s tiny hand.

‘ Unni!’ He called. Unni, got up from the cot and went to him.

‘ Balan slept off…’

‘ Hmm… did you all eat anything?’

‘ No…’

He removed the lids from the vessels kept on the kitchen ledge. The food that she had prepared for them: chappati, rice, potato curry, upperi, curd, and then Neypayasam-that she made occasionally for the kids- inside a crystal bowl.

Food that had been touched by death! No, they should not eat that!

‘ I shall make some upma, these have grown cold…’, he said.

‘ Accha..’, Unni spoke, ‘ When is Amma going to come back? Has she not recovered yet?’

‘May the truth have the patience to wait for a day at least’, he  brooded deep. What would be the purpose in hurting the child that night?

‘ Amma will come…’, he replied.

He washed two bowls and kept them on the ground.

‘ Let Balan sleep. Do not wake him up,’ he said.

‘ Accha…Neypayasam!’ the youngest said, and dipped his forefinger into the bowl.

He sat down heavily on the wooden block that his wife had used.

‘ Unni, can you serve? Acchan is feeeling unwell…a headache…’

Let them have the food. The food prepared by their mother- they would never be able to eat that again.

The children started eating the Payasam. He sat dumb struck, staring at that scene. After a while, he queried:

‘ Don’t you want rice, Unni?’

‘ No, the Payasam will do…it is very delicious!’

The youngest child smiled, ‘ Yes…Amma made yummy Neypayasam…’

He got up swiftly and hurried to the bathroom. He wanted to hide his tears from them.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neypayasam: Madhavi Kutty, (Story Translation from Malayalam)Part-1

(Neypayasam: A traditional sweet dish of Kerala made of jaggery, clarified butter, rice, raisins, cashew et al)

We shall call that man ‘ Acchan’ ( *Father): the one who has  somehow organised the funeral rites at minimal costs and has shown deferential gratitude to his work- colleagues, before wearily starting for his home at night. The reason behind that nomenclature is because, in that town, only three children recognise his true worth. And they call him, ‘ Acchan.’

Seated amongst strangers in the bus, he started segregating every single moment of that singular day.

He had woken up on hearing her voice.

‘ It is Monday! Unni, get up now! Do not burrow under the sheets!’ She was waking up their eldest son. Dressed in her white sari- that had seen better days-she had then started working in the kitchen. She had come to him with a huge tumbler full of coffee. Then, then…what had happened then? Had she mentioned something memorable to him?  Even after he pondered for long, he could not recollect  a single word of what she had spoken afterwards. ‘ It is Monday! Do not burrow under the sheets!’ That lone sentence reverberated in his memory. He murmured the words, as if they were part of the Lord’s name. He felt that his loss would become irreparable if he forgot that sentence.

She had packed  aluminium tiffin boxes with snacks, for the  children’s school recess. He had noticed the stain of turmeric on her right hand then. The children had joined him in the morning as he started for office-they had gone to town together.

He had not thought about her- not even once- at  his office. They had married after a year long love affair. Their families had not cooperated at all. Yet, they both had never regretted their decision. Of course, there had been hardships that had often exhausted them :the frequent bouts of illness which haunted their young children, and the precarious finances… She had slowly lost interest in dressing up. He had lost his capacity for bursting into a hearty laugh.

But they had loved each other. They also loved their three children. Three sons. They were aged ten, seven and five; and their faces were never clean. They were ordinary kids with nothing outstanding about them- either in beauty or intelligence.

Yet their parents often boasted about them:

‘ Unni is all set to be an engineer. He is always creating something or the other…’

‘ Balan- we should make him a doctor! Look at that intelligent forehead!’

‘Rajah is not even scared of the dark! He is very smart! He might join the army…’

Their residence was in that part of the town where the middle class lived. A flat with three rooms on the first floor of a building. A small verandah- where two people could just about stand together- abutted one room. A rose plant grew in a small flower pot in that space; Amma taking care of it meticulously. However, it had not bloomed till date.

On the kitchen wall hung various implements- spoons and their ilk. Near the stove was a worn out block of wood which Amma had used as a seat. She would be typically making chappatis, seated on the block, when Acchan returned from work.

He disembarked when the bus stopped. He felt a sudden flare of pain at one of his knees. Would it be the starting of rheumatism? If he were to fall sick, who would take care of the children? His eyes welled up suddenly. Wiping his tears with a rather soiled handkerchief, he quickly made his way home.

Would the children be sleeping? Have they eaten something? ( TO BE CONTINUED)

Virunninu Munpu : Before the Dinner ( Story by Madhavi Kutty, Translation from Malayalam)

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Before the Dinner: Virunninu Munpu

Madhavi Kutty, 1961

That day too, they were getting ready for a dinner party. He felt that in their lives, the posturing before the mirror, and the careful checking of the face, were like the oft repeated chorus of a song. These occurred frequently and never changed their nature. The way she sat,  the way she combed her hair, the way she would ask stupid questions without turning to look at him…

She pinned up her hair and went to the bathroom to wash her hands.

“Which sari should I wear ?” She asked,  “Mohan, just decide finally and tell me…Blue or white?”

“White,” he muttered.

“But I have worn it for Mitra’s party last month. And we cannot rule out the same crowd from being there tonight… “, she said.

He straightened the knot of his tie and pulled on his white coat. Pursing his lips together, he walked away to the verandah.

“Oh, have you finished dressing so fast? I am just about to start…”, she called out.

Pulling a chair near the iron bars of the  balcony , he seated himself. The gardener was trimming the henna shrubs of their neighbour’s garden patch using huge scissors.

“Mohan!” The young woman called from inside the house.

“What is it?”

“I have a  feeling that those people would be there too for the party tonight.”

“What people?”

“Those people staying above us…”

“Hmm..”

“I heard the sound of the stitching machine in the morning! She must have been stitching her blouse for the party! What is the need for such miserliness? As if there are no good tailors in Calcutta!”

“Hmm…”

“Yet she goes out wearing such ugly blouses! I feel such pity for her husband…Mohan, are you listening?”

“Yes…”

She appeared in the verandah momentarily , looked at him, and then vanished immediately. Her face was caked with rouge and face powder. He felt that it was the face of a cheap doll. He lighted a cigarette.

“She is so proud about the fact that she writes poetry! ‘ I am a poetess, why do I need beauty? ‘ That is her attitude! Now that infuriates me!  Even if she is not fair, if she carefully works on her  make up, she might escape being utterly plain…But..”

“Even if  she does not carefully work on her makeup, I find her beautiful,” he replied.

She appeared outside yet again; this time with a smile.

“Oh, Mohan! Now you are trying to vex me, aren’t you dear? No one can ever think that she is beautiful! Beauty indeed! Haha…”

He stared  for a few moments ,emotionless, at his wife’s  face and thin frame wrapped in white silk. Then for  some reason, he too started laughing.

“I am looking fine, right? There isn’t too much face powder on my face, is it?” She asked.

He made agreeable movements of his head.

“I get mad when I see her vanity,” She waxed on.

“Vanity? Where did she show off her vanity?” He queried.

“Imagine! You have never seen that? Lord, men are such fools! Haven’t you seen her walk?  The way she holds her head high, never looking down at the ground for  a moment?  Then that lopsided smile!  Her various  conceited  affectations…I feel so…”

“It is seven thirty now,” He said, getting up from his chair, “We have not yet attained the stature  for reaching late at cocktail parties.”

She trilled with fake laughter. Then turning on her heels, she went inside their bedroom.

He heard the  tremulous sound of a top whirling from the flat above theirs. It was followed by children’s laughter. He raised his eyes upwards. He wished that she was standing there- leaning against the iron bars of her verandah. What would happen? She might smile at him once. She might query whether his wife was hearty. Were these of any significance?

With a fury that had no obvious cause, he stamped at a flower pot with his shoe clad foot. All the flower pots on their verandah were full of thorny plants.

“I am ready!” His wife announced. She held a vanity bag of silvery satin in her hand.

“What happened to you ?” She asked,”You look so pale!”

He sat down heavily in the chair and looked down; his forehead was ensconced in his hands.

“What happened Mohan?” She asked again. He was extremely irritated by the thick fumes of her heavy perfume.

Without lifting his head he replied, “Please let me sit here   for a while. I don’t feel like going anywhere today.”

“What do you mean?” Her voice became sharp, “Not going to the party after committing? You have forgotten all basic manners! You are absolutely fine!  I know that. Get up now! Let us leave- it is quarter to eight now.”

The children staying in the flat above them, were still playing with the top: pulling at the thread. That sound rose like a sliver of excruciating pain and then thrummed within his heart.

“I am not going anywhere,” he announced.

“How childish you are, dearest!” She was sweet- talking him now. “It is your boss’s party! As if you have a choice! Can you afford to aggravate him?”

Yet, he continued to look down. He muttered, “I will not go.”

She caressed his hair, and then dropped kisses on his fingers.

“Get up darling!” She whispered softly , “We cannot have him vexed at us…”

He got up and then without glancing at her, crossed over the drawing room and reached the main door. She accompanied him with a smile.

“We have not yet attained the stature of reaching late…”, she teased. As they descended the stairs, she inspected his face. A smile? An angry, brooding silence ? She saw nothing. Consequently, she tried to change the topic of discussion.

“I wish it will not rain tonight! If it rains, even if I take extreme care, my sari will get dirty! The hems will get wet, by the time one gets inside the car! That is what scares me!”

When he started driving, a sudden rain fell all over the lane.

“I told you, did I not!” She trilled, “I knew it! My poor white sari! Oh my poor white sari!”

He thought that if she mentioned that sari one more time, he would most definitely strangle  her. His hands started shaking.

“Mohan! What happened to you today? Are you feverish? Your hands are shaking dear!”

“Fever?!” He burst into laughter. Praying that the unwanted laughter would cease soon, she sat there quietly. The rain drops kept dashing against the glass panes.

He kept on laughing for a long time. She realised that he did not love her. ‘Has he ever loved her?’ She wondered to herself. There was no answer to that question.

During the dinner, the host accosted her: “I think that you have become more beautiful…!”

Her eyes overflowed for some reason at that moment.

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakshiyude Manam: The Scent of a Bird (Translation from Malayalam) Part 2

The Scent of a Bird : Madhavi Kutty, Pakshiyude Manam, 1961

‘…. Once upon a winter, a bird got trapped in my bedroom. It had pale yellow and rusty hues. Something like your sari’s shades. It pecked against the glass windows desperately; then flapped frantically trying to break down the glass. All in vain. Finally it collapsed on the ground. I crushed it underfoot, of course.’

After a few moments, he asked her , ‘ Do you know the scent of death?’

She raised her eyes to meet his own; but could not even whimper out a word. She knew the answer. Who knew about the scent of death, indeed the various scents of death better than her? It smelt of festering wounds,  of sweet orchards,  of sandal wood agarbatis…

Inside a small, dark room, her mother lay on a cot on the plain ground. ‘ I am not well my child…I am not in pain…but I am not feeling well…’ White maggots  had wriggled from within the wounds on her  mother’s leg. Yet, her mother said, ‘ I am not feeling any pain…’

Her father. When her diabetic father had collapsed one day, she had felt that a breeze  had blown in from  the orchards…The scent of sweetness had been so prominent…It was the scent of death too.

She wanted to say all that; but her tongue had weakened by then.

The young man seated in the middle of the room was muttering even then.

‘You don’t know that, do you? Death smells like the feathers of a bird….You will learn that shortly enough. Do you want it now? Is there a time that you prefer most? This world lies shamelessly naked beneath the stare of the sun : would that time suffice? Or do you prefer twilight? What sort of a woman are you? Courageous or prone to timidity?’

He got up from his chair and moved towards her. He was a very tall man.

She said, ‘ Please let me go. I never intended to come here.’

‘ You are lying! How many times have you wished to reach here! You have wanted an easy end for such  a long time, have you not?  Are you not like a languidly flowing river which wants to  simply merge with a deeply sighing sea that is filled with gentle waves? Tell me darling, don’t you yearn for that endless caress?’

‘ Who are you?’ She struggle to sit up. The man’s fingers- she felt a loathing pull towards those.

‘ So you have never seen me before?’

‘ No…’

‘ I have come to you many times. You were hardly eleven the first time around. You had jaundice and was exhausted. When your mother opened the windows, you said, ‘ Amma, I see yellow flowers every where.’ Do you remember that?’

She nodded in agreement.

‘ Only your eyes saw those yellow flowers. I was standing amidst them. I was waiting to take you away…But you did not come with me that day…You did not know about my love for you. You did not recognise that I am your guide- not just yours, every single person’s guide and philosopher…’

‘ Love? Is this love?’ She asked querulously.

‘ Yes. Only I am capable of revealing the perfection of love. You will offer to me every single part of yours: your red lips, your dancing eyes, your seductive body…all of that…every cell shall be offered to me… As a reward for your sacrifice, I shall grant you freedom. You will turn into emptiness, but you will become everything.

You will be in the  hum of the seas, and you will move in the old trees when they sprout new lives in the rains. When the seeds cry in birthing pangs beneath the sodden earth, your cry shall arise along with theirs. You will turn into wind, into rain drops, into specks of sand…You shall become the beauty of this world…’

She rose and stood still. All her tiredness had vanished. With a newly acquired strength, she said, ‘ Perhaps you are right. But you have got the wrong person. I am too young to die. I am only twenty seven. I am married. I am a mother. My time has not yet come. I came in search of a job. It must be around twelve thirty now. Let me get back home.’

He said nothing. Opening the door for her, he gave her permission to leave. She hurried forward, searching for the lift. Her footsteps echoed balefully all around- or so she felt.

She stopped near the lift. The peon who operated it was not to be seen. She got inside and closed the shutter, before pressing the button. With the initial rumblings of a break down, it jerked to a start and then shot upwards. She felt that she was in the sky and that it was thundering loudly somewhere. It was then that she saw the board dangling inside the lift: ‘ Lift is under repair. Danger.’

It became dark all around. It was a darkness which made sounds, and growled ferociously. She never had to get out of the lift again.

**