Poems by Praveen Prasad

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Translated from Malayalam by Ra Sh

Man and banana

A man and a banana tree
are not similar.
Though at first glance
their posture is the same,
the man and the banana tree
are not similar.

Beyond the distinction
of flora and fauna
I love the banana tree.
When I read beside a window
the banana tree close to it
turns the page with its long leaf.
It smears the honey from
the flowers on my lips.
If I say me and the banana tree
have a spiritual connection,
don’t mock me by asking
whether the banana has a soul.

The banana tree blossoms
only once in its life time.
Its life reaches fruition
only when it blossoms.
I do enquire how a man’s life
becomes fruitful.

My dad even taunts me sometimes
calling me a banana tree.
I feel ecstatic then.

What do you know about a banana tree?
We are not what we seem to be
Everything is an external make over
But, think of the banana
Imagine that its body
is its mind.
However much you skin it
deeper and deeper
it will only die as a thin thread
in front of you.
That’s why I said in the beginning
the man and the banana tree
are not similar.


 

Between the steep banks is a weeping world

The sea is not just a stretch of blue,
fishes, coral reefs or salt water till
far away where the eyes drown.
At the bottom of the sea is a world
of people who were sunk with a rock
tied to them. A world that we cast away.

Now dead and having become one with the sea,
they must be swimming like the sea creatures
releasing themselves from the bonds.
To the starving fish lings that cry of hunger,
they will offer their finger tips to nibble.

A girl with the light gone out of her eyes will
swim for miles to fall in love with a man
with no nation in the Bay of Bengal. They will
marry exchanging coral reefs in seven hues.
There will be a big celebration in the sea
at that time. A wave will rush towards the shore.

From the shores of Africa, a mother will go down
to the depths carrying a rotten womb swollen with
water and rise up in some Caribbean shore where
the waves are weak with a little baby. They will be
mother and son. She will breastfeed him with milk
untainted with salt.

All the people who were thrown into the sea tied to
rocks will build a big mansion and be a big family.
They will cry in unison at the thought that they are dead.
They will comfort each other. The sea is so salty
because of their mingling tears.

The population under the sea is much more than the
creatures on land. The sea is the greatest continent.


 

When Asthmamol and her dad went fishing

On a holiday
Asthmamol and her dad
got ready the fishing rod,
dug up the bait and walked
to the river, father and daughter.

In her eyes were written
“e-n-t-h-u-s-i-a-s-m.”
Dad who read it is leading her on
to the intoxication of fishing.

Along the grass covered ridge
little legs and daddy legs
walk together  
towards the fish in the river.

Near the river Asthmamol perches on
a round stone and sits there.
Dad sits below her.
Asthmamol is astonished by the sight
of the bait being hooked.
The one who catches the fish
is it dad or this bait?
Whoever it may be
the fish is to be caught and the
prettiness of its gills exposed.
Off a sudden, dad pulls the line
and a fish lies on the bank.
Asthmamol for the first time
witnesses a live fish getting caught.

Dad and the suicide squad of baits
catch a few more fish.
Asthmamol is sorrowful on seeing
the fish struggling for air through
the mud plastered gills.
Her mind choked with the sight
Asthmamol throws back a fish
into the river.
She throws back another fish
even as her dad watches.

Dad saw a baby fish struggling
to catch its breath.
He laid down his rod.
He thought of the dad of the baby fish.
The dad of the baby fish weeping
at the bottom of the river.
A river spouted from dad’s eyes.
It flowed down to join the river
from the daughter’s eyes
to become one river.
The baby fish jumped into that river
and swam back home.

Asthmamol and her dad
left the fishing rod there
and went home singing the song
“suffocation…suffocation.”

Asthma – Asthma
Mol – Daughter.


 

About the Author

Praveen Prasad is one among the youngest poets of Kerala and is a a graduate student in  English Literature at Govt Science and Arts College, Tholanoor, Palakkad. His poems now find regular space in many literary magazines of Kerala and on the social media.

About the Translator

 

Ra Sh (Ravi Shanker N)’s poems in English have been published in many national and international online and print magazines. His poems have been translated into German and French. He has published three collections of poetry – ‘Architecture of Flesh’ (two editions)  ‘The Bullet Train and other loaded poems’  and ‘Kintsugi by Hadni’. Ra Sh also translates literary works from Malayalam and Tamil into English.