Malayalam Poetry : V.T. Jayadevan’s Poems



Malayalam Poetry in Translation Series – 23

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)


Her Man

On the wedding night
she said amidst her blather,
I have a lover.

As if a withered flower petal
among many other on the river ripple,
that word was washed away.

It never returned upstream
in search of the married.

Lost in a daydream,
the simmering curry charred many a time.
But never once did he ask,
Oh, were you lost in his thoughts?

Or when she wore a brighter shade
never once did he ask,
Oh, would he wait for you on the way?

On the day he returned home late,
he did not sniff around the room
for a strange body odor
like a cat.

She was the first
to reach her time of death.
He bent towards her pillow and asked:
Tell me,
do you want to see him one last time?
Should I ask him to drop in?
She smiled shyly and whispered:
No, it’s fine.
He will come soon
and we will leave together.

(Translation of Avalude Aal, 2018)


The Kid in the Prison

A kid in the prison.

On moonlit nights,
in sobbing breaths,
an angel who feels for the kid
approaches to talk through
the window on the dark wall.

In her words,
a sky vaster than sky,
an ocean deeper than oceans.

Her oration,
farther and adventurous
than the far flung travels.
A God who doesn’t cast
a shadow in the prayers
of intermittent silence.

Shall I demolish this jail
using my magical powers?
She asks.

Don’t, replies the kid.
This miniscule orifice is my eye,
this cellar, my womb.

(Translation of Thadavarayile Kutti, Page 86, Pazhakkam, Sapiens Literature) 


A Jungle of Poetry

I love to build a jungle with words.
Sweet as honey
Healing as medicine
Killing as poison
Innumerable sprouts of poetry!

I would fly inward and vanish.
I like to build a jungle with poetry.

(Original poem: Kavithakondoru Kaadu, Page 22, Pazhakkam, Sapiens Literature)


About the Author

VT Jayadevan is a poet and a teacher. His books include Aa Neelan Chooralvadiyil Thalirum Poovum, Kurachch Koodi Harithabhamaaya Oridam, Haritharamayanam, Vanaantharam, Jalamudra, Nooru Zen Kathakal, Pazhakkam, and J Krishamurthyude Dhyanangal.

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 . (