Poems by Rajesh Nandiamkode

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Translated from Malayalam by Ra Sh 

 

Gummy soil

Always
always
it sticks to the spade.

Most of my time
is spent in scraping it off
with a stick.

Whenever
the landlord comes
he curses again and again that
he couldn’t find any work done
in the yard.
It’s so irritating.

For him, poking the mobile
or tapping his computer
means money.

But, I can’t poke
or scrape with a stick
when the gooey mud
sticks to my spade.

You should see
the ugly look on his face
when paying my wage!

If you succumb to that look
However much he pays,
it won’t go down well
in the belly of my kids.

Like the clingy muck
till it is all spent,
the money sticks all over me.

Our job and our life
are nothing like but
the clay sticking to the spade.

Scrub to no end or
bathe how much you will,
it sticks all over the body
gluey and sludgy
sticking sticking sticking
like your word.


 

Faith

It is during the
lockdown times
that the gods who are
locked in without puja
are remembered.

How conflicted
must be their minds!
How much solitude
they must suffer from!

How many days
can they exist so
in the belief that
the devotees may
surely come back
in the form of
vegetables and
groceries.


 

What is left of the forest

Each tree that lost its forest
dreams of it – though
they can never reach it again
through the leaves.

In the trees that stand alone
in the front yard or
the wayside or
the house compound or
the hillside
a forest slumbers.

When memories
invade the forest within
they madly blossom and
bear fruits.

Just try keeping Time still
around a lonely tree!


 

About the Author

Born in 1980 in the Palakkad district of Kerala, Rajesh Nandiamkode, after high school education, works as a wage labourer. He has six collections of poetry and a novel to his credit; he has won six awards for his poetry from different organizations. He is well known for his poetry as well as a ‘Seed Yathra’ he undertakes every rainy season to plant trees.

 

About the Translator

Ravi Shanker (aka Ra Sh) is a poet and translator based in Palakkad, Kerala. He has published four collections of poetry, Architecture of Flesh (Poetrywala), Bullet Train and Other Loaded Poems (Hawakal), Kintsugi by Hadni (RLFPA) and In the Mirror, Our Graves, a chapbook with Ritamvara Bhattacharya.  Ravi Shanker is also a translator whose English translations include Mother Forest (Women Unlimited), Waking is Another Dream (Navayana), Don’t Want Caste (Navayana), Kochiites (Greenex), How to Translate an Earthworm (Dhauli Books) and The Ichi Tree Monkey and new and selected stories of Bama (Speaking Tiger).