Malayalam Poetry in Translation Series – 12
Translated by Aditya Shankar
(Translator’s Note: The finest of contemporary Malayalam poetry represents the latest poetic sensibility that is on view today. A poem that is able to mend its language and meaning, and blend into the issues of our time will break the barriers of language eventually. In fact, as a translator, I believe it becomes the need of other languages to grow and adapt to the new shapes of meaning that a poem carves for itself. My project ‘Malayalam Poetry in Translation’ is an attempt to showcase the work of some of the finest poets writing in Malayalam. I believe it is only apt to clarify in this note that new poetic sensibility is in no way co-related to the age of a poet, but is a product of her/his poetic outlook and awareness. Also, the scope of this translation series is limited to a sample size and do not encompass the entire spectrum of contemporary Malayalam poetry. Every notable poet manages to continually reinvent his poetic landscape and the poets featured in this series are no exception.)
The lake sparkled in sunlight,
the foreigner’s vision blurred in the houseboat.
He wore a shade, turned it into dusk.
The fish in God’s Own country
dipped and dried in oil,
applied turmeric and sindoor
and lay on their back before the foreigner,
with indifferent eyes.
The coconut trees lactated for him.
After doing justice to all of them,
he came to me.
No blood stained the white bedspread.
This wasn’t the first time:
above the ripples, in a rhythm.
Only at dusk
when I disembarked the boat,
I saw my neighbor Shajiyettan.
He looked upset, eyes turbid.
Oh, what’s the big deal in this?
Need a prolonged bath at the stream
behind my shack.
my dad will sleep peacefully
after taking medication.
My brother would have his full,
will sleep without crying.
That’s the thing,
the only real thing.
Even after rowing a houseboat for so long,
didn’t you figure out that guest is our God?
(Translation of Daivathinte Sontham, Page 19, Daivathinte Sontham, Mathrubhumi Books)
Othello in the Monsoon
In this dusk
alone in the rain
reminiscing only me
clutching his mobile
dialing my number
I sit alone in the room,
watching the rain
through the window.
The silenced mobile
stares at me with
its shining eyes.
When I strangle its
until power down
with a pillow,
I am able to decipher
lessons by Mary Miss
on the incomprehensible Othello.
(Translation of Othello Mazhakkalathu, Page 28, Daivathinte Sontham, Mathrubhumi Books)
The Algebra of Love
if the day that begins
with your peck on my left cheeks
concludes with your peck on my right.
I will remain content
within the bracket you draw,
I’m always outside the bracket,
the common factor.
It’s crowded inside:
me (kids + you + parents + colleagues
Hey! Don’t be provoked.
Exit the bracket and be
a common factor with me.
We shall rupture into fragments
through the day.
And at night?
We shall walk to eternity
stepping on ….
At each step,
we shall strip a piece of cloth,
till we touch the souls.
(Translation of Snehathinte Algebra, Page 47, Daivathinte Sontham, Mathrubhumi Books)
About the Author:
Dr Bindu Krishnan has a PhD in physics. She is a scientist by profession and a poet by passion. She worked at the Centre for Materials for Electronics Technology, Thrissur and Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Trivandrum. Currently she is an Asst. Professor at Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur. She has published two anthologies of poems – Thottal Vaadaruth and Daivathinte Sontham. Her husband K B Venu is a media professional and a film critic. Bindu has two daughters, Yamuna and Meghna.
About the Translator:
Aditya Shankar is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated poet, flash fiction author, and translator. He edited Tiny Judges Shall Arrive (AHRC, Hong Kong), a selection of KG Sankara Pillai’s poems translated into English. His translations have appeared in the SAARC anthology of poetry, Muse & Murmur, Modern Poetry in Translation, Ethics in Action and elsewhere. His poems have been translated into Malayalam and Arabic and published from 20 or more nations. His poetry collections include After Seeing (2006), Party Poopers (2014), and XXL (Dhauli Books, 2018). His short films have participated in International Film Festivals. He lives in Bangalore, India . (https://adityashankar.ucraft.net/).