Malayalam Poetry : K. Rajagopal’s Poems



Malayalam Poetry in Translation Series – 24

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)



At the unknown land,
lose your way
in search of the death house.
In the endless rain,
the wet junction should bloat.
Eyes tight shut,
directions should go blind.

But keep walking
away from your own shadow
shedding its skin at the pine straw.
Weightless, sans makeup, totally aloof.

Let the first line of a song
lost to a quarrelling memory
and the fragrance of beauty
tangled on the riprap
return to you.

Let the chill descending
on the solitary nomadic wind
and the unborn word
to title your autobiography
return to you.

Keep walking
and see the devil grass
tattoo the slopes green.
See how flowers and leaves
on the same plant differ.

See the intertwined towers,
the orchards that never return,
the thirsty wayside wells.
See how the rain fails
to brighten walls and planks
soiled with quick lime.

Then the one to remember
is definitely you.
The one to guide you
on the right path
is the God walking towards you!

(Translation of Adayalam, Page 34, Pinnamburam, DC Books) 



Your sweat dripping face
is a suitable cover image
for the midday edition of time;
smoky eyes,
jaw bones as if failing umbrella ribs.

If read in a hurry,
wouldn’t the editions of your body turn tedious?
Hence I end up bored
sniffing your proud wrapper.

At the dining table,
hunger advertises its editions of taste.

From eyelids flipped by the touch of nap,
parts an edition of dream.

A night edition of rain
as you leave
from the communion of neighbors.

The beastly glow of grief
in the special edition of a strange voice.

All the silent gestures
are shock and awe inducing editions
of the visual creed.

Will my copycat edition be included,
with revisions and edits?

(Translation of Ulladakkam, Page 48, Pinnamburam, DC Books) 



I feel nothing fits.
The sandals that walk along,
the torch that offers light,
the umbrella and clothes that offers shade,
the misguided path..

When the rice was half-burnt,
the curry turned out to be salty.
The tree of forgetfulness
fell across the path of mind, blocked it.

The height of sills,
the creaking of hinges,
the shine of floors,
the delay in bathrooms.

I locked out the unfit body
and set out on foot, inward.

Didn’t go far —
a numbness in the hand.
A three horned, snail-like creature
glued to me, growled in hunger.

It is true,
I had forgotten to hand over the keys.
What is the guarantee that
you will find a suitable replacement
from the wayside?

(Translation of Apaakam, Page 43, Pinnamburam, DC Books)


About the Author

K Rajagopal, born in Chengannur of Central Kerala, is a Malayalam poet with four collections of poetry to his credit. He is associated with South India Writers’ Ensemble (SWIE) as a coordinator since 2013. As a lyricist, he was associated with two international musical albums Moksha and Anuraag, composed by Hindustani musician Gireesh Suryanarayanam. He works at the State Treasury Department, Kerala.

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 . (