Malayalam Poetry in Translation Series – 20
Translated by Aditya Shankar
More than any other genre in Malayalam literature, poetry has articulated the profound contradictions of the Malayalee psyche, its moral trepidations and its desire for liberation from the oppressive ideologies of discrimination like those of class, caste and gender. Poetry has insistently refused to be a mere entertainer or a leisure-pastime, involving itself seriously in social struggles and sharing the agonies and aspirations of individuals of all social layers and persuasions. This is also the reason for its unique vibrancy and popularity that we seldom find in most other languages of India.
(Extract from the article ‘Malayalam Poetry Today’ by K.Satchidanandan)
My Present God
The God who searches
for his misplaced river
is my God.
The god who waves
a torch in outer space
searching for a windswept leaf
is my God.
How to imagine a different God,
when I’m weary of seeking
the paper misplaced
in this book?
(Original poem: Ippol Prarthikkunna Daivam, Page 29, Bhaashayum Kunjum, Current Books)
The Maestro* Arises As the Poem Ends
Unable to handle
the pleasure of flying,
falls the nestling with tired wings.
Unable to bear
the pleasure of grazing the moon,
falls the kid that scaled the mountain.
The dew on grass
beholds your departure from the body,
unable to bear the pleasure.
Seeking utmost pleasure
love and freedom,
the poet arises from his departed body.
(*) With reference to the legendary Malayalam poet, Kumaran Asan. Also, the poem references Kumaran Asan’s poems such as Kochu KIli, Nalini, and Ambili.
(Translation of Kavitha Muzhumichch Asaan Ezhunnelkkunnu)
Wait and See
What would the white cranes
with curvy necks do
if that tree isn’t there next year?
That small tree
where the fatigue of flying
thousands of miles,
perches, once a year.
Like an antique kite
with a long white tail that
lazily latches onto the tree branch,
its whiteness unfaded.
Once when I saw, they sat
with wilted wings
that seem to be just folded.
they danced away weariness.
As soon as they journey,
will they sense the trees absence?
Will they arrive and keep circling at the spot?
Will they opt for the next tree?
Will that tree become their norm?
Or, will they fly back even without resting?
Will they declare with their beak and wings
their decision to never return?
If that house isn’t there,
if that man isn’t there,
will I declare a similar decision
with my hands and wings?
(Original poem: Kaathirunn Kaanaam, Page 36, Bhaashayum Kunjum, Current Books)
Dracula — After Draining Out Fear
through the city rush
with a suitcase
bearing a fistful of dark stinking soil
to be laid to rest.
on this footpath
to open the suitcase
to jump in and close the lid from within
to slide into the final rest.
in the streets
he would lie on his back,
hold the suitcase above his chest
as if a book wide open
to drown in the pile of stinking mud
that it dumps.
walked past without giving a hoot.
But when the moroseness of his face
vented the stink of soil
in an instance..
(Original poem: Dracula-After Draining Out Fear, Page 46, Bhaashayum Kunjum, Current Books)
About the Author
P. Raman was born in 1972 at Pattambi, Kerala. His published poetry volumes are Kanam (2000), Thurumbu (2006) and Bhashayum Kunjum (2013). He is also the editor of the journal Thilanila.
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/).