Poems by Nishy Leela George

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Translated from the Malayalam by Dr. K.C.Muraleedharan

 

Tale of a Monkey

Beyond the river bank,
she sat anticipating the juicy heart
with the flavour of figs
The river takes him
into her.

The loneliness swinging on the trees
gazes into the mirroring river
and finds a blooming heart.

Half the way
mid-stream,
the river turns to sea.
the sea, the end of the world.
he sees in love
the shadow of death.

The loneliness swinging from tree to tree
gazes into the mirroring river
doubts whether the heart is
on this or that side of the river
falls into the vortex of uncertainty

the supposed greenness of the other shore
– risky and unfamiliar
to the familiar
backwoods
he swims back

the one who
returned from love
tend to forget the tree
where he pulled out and kept his heart


 

Beside the Silver Line

It was dad
who did the foundation work of the house,
built the walls.
Thatched it too.
Elder brothers and sisters
helped him.
Mother
bore ten children by that time
and died.
It was dad
who beautified the house every year.

The house woulďve been another
had mum designed it –
I always think so.

Dad made
the thatched bathroom for his daughters.
He dug a pit-toilet too.
Dumped it with soil once the pit got full.
Dug a new one too.

Dad
made walkways
through the compound.
We, little children
plied toy carts through.
Dad himself
did make paths to go out
and we went along someways

History is the chronicle of weapons
dad taught us.
We learned that it is
the history of people who were armed.
Story of muscle power.
Crushing with stones
Hammering to appropriate
Annexing with swords
Conquering at gun-point
Axing to take over
Story of weapons.
Story of the armed.

We have to leave behind
the mark of our life and passing prominently,
my children –
Saying this he began driving
a long iron crossbar into the deeps of earth.
Dad believed
he could topple the earth.

Don’t do dad, don’t.
The youngest girl then
held his hands,
pleading, all the rivers,
won’t they tumble.

Don’t do dad, please don’t
all these lot of trees,
wouldn’t they falter and fall,
the boy child
implored, holding his hand.

Ignoring that, dad
dug the earth left and right
pressed it even.
Made thoroughfares.
The world changed
in such ways that
roads are not for people
but people are for roads sake.

Dad thought
he can topple the world.
Don’t do it, dad
said the youngest daughter in tears.
Please, stop dad
said the young boy all tears.
Shut up! the adult sister and brother
frowned bullying.

Had my mother designed
it would’ve been a different world-
I thought then also as I always do.
Those born younger to me
in their feeble voices
went on pleading him
to stop.
History is not his story but
the story
of those who resisted him –
a banner displaying this
was planted by someone
beside the silver lines
dad was making
in the background score
of the feeble voices of the young ones.
Inspired by the words
I too called out
stop it dad, stop it for once.


 

Sherlock Holmes

Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes stay
not in the same room
but reside in one body.
however
Dr Watson mostly
doesn’t see Sherlock Holmes.
just like the you in you
overlook the greater you in you.

Imagination and intelligence,
extending them to the horizons
making the impossible possible,
from suggestions
venturing to seek truth,
living
across times
and tenses,
such a one is also in you all.
sometimes that one in you
would be asleep.
When you wonder
at the truths that come lucid
from the hints gathered with care
you will find that one.

Place yourself higher
with an us that is more than us
and in that is
the ecstasy forever.
Like when we find ourselves
greater selves mutually
in the bliss of love.

The substantial me in me
only at times
I see.
often
when I sleep
the Holmes in me
get up.
He would through the snow covered path
hint to hints
walk.
would touch and touch
big trees and fly.
jump down
the heights.
sprout wings midway
and fly down to the river.

turn into a paper boat.
hit the coast
drive up the dust-raising climb.
from those l have never seen
gather evidence.
Like a tall tree
stand dripping in the rain.
since we two
share the body
l feel cold.
I pull the blanket over me.
however I try with my memory
could hardly open
the doors of sleep.
Like in monsoon times
the doors hesitate
and truth stands unrevealed.
Sherlock Holmes fades away….
through the many-roomed
house with the smell of oldness
he would walk with the magnifying glass.
Fire-hearths
with pots on head
would be burning there.

uncountable curves and turns
off-sight of the house
of which one
leads to truth
I regarded.

A new house
I reach.
above and on the sides
all white.
large tomb-like
doorless, windowless
silence.
suffocated and struggling
hands grope
against a concealed door
and its hook.
Crawling through that
to a place where darkness lighted.
A most beautiful something
I see there.
found truth
my hearts beats louder.
but darkness pushes me out.
Sherlock Holmes just disappears.
When awake, as a reminder
I have a keyword
on the white wall
with a paralysing
hand written.
In many dreams
l pass the way
to make it out.
but couldn’t do.
I become Dr Watson only.
Certain mysteries
am quite unable to untie and wake up.
The Sherlock Holmes in you
if ever reaches the white house
some day –
the wall on the right –
have a sharp look at
and find the truth.

The Sherlock Holmes in me
has left the room.
I haven’t seen him for long.


 

About the Author

Nishy Leela George  resides at  Payyannur, Kannur, Kerala is working as a guest lecturer in Sree Sankarachaya Sanskrit University, Payyannur Centre. She has a PhD in Malayalam Literature and has published four books (that include two poetry collections). She mainly writes in social media and her poems and literary criticisms have appeared in printed-weeklies like Madhyamam, Samayam, Ullezhuth, Ezhuth, Santham, Chandrika etc and also in online journals.

About the Translator

Dr. K.C. Muraleedharan, a retired head of English department, Payyannur College Payyannur, now currently works as the Principal  St. Joseph’s College Pilathara. He is an avid translator of Malayalam poetry into English.