Ahalya of the rock & Other poems: KGS Pillai
Leader of the mission
to protect the hermits
stood on a jungle rock
watching the forest dwellers’ heads
floating down the wild stream.
“step away , from my chest”
shouted the rock.
As if on a mouse,
the leader’s fingers
pressed on the rock.
“come out Ahalya ma,
now it is your turn to
Your rishi husband,
Resort on the river valley,
life in a solitary cell.. .
O hit ! Ahalya ma,
the world is waiting for
of a woman in love.”
“Is it so? has the world tired of
waiting for godot ? or the Saviour?”
waiting is an old porch
an architecture of memory
built in the language of meditation.
an eye, fluttering
foreseeing even the farthest future,
was caged in it
till alsheimers came in
to wipe out the old faith .
Leave me friend
In any house
There is a rainbow of love
in the rusted handle of the plastic bucket .
Though Nandan or Meera does’nt see it.
Neither do they search for it .
How many days after marriage
the lovers begin to forget love?
How many of them would decide
to continue their love song?
How many of them would
burn in the agony of their derailed love ?
and plant a new line ?
How many would decide to separate
without hitches and screams ?
in each house
there is a youthfulness that ages,
an antiqueness to be rejuvenated ,
the emptiness of a vessel to be filled ,
a lamp to be woken up,
a coldness to be warmed up,
a shabbiness to be cleansed,
a garbage to be discarded,
a lie to be worn,
a hand-cuff to be hidden,
a fire to be extinguished .
Inside a mind made of houses
Still jingle the forgotten keys .
In the shower flying down
In the sanyasi-drop on a lotus leaf
In the tranquilizing lights on the river ripples
Resides the soul of a rainbow of love;
A pranaya gandharva with new love lives for
all that has been forgotten .
Though in the everyday hurry -worry of
washing and cooking and cleaning
and in a hundreds of daily trivialities
Meera and Nandan neither knows it
nor search for it .
Beggars of China
At the portico of the
Terracotta Army Museum in Xian .
At the gates of the historical monuments
birds of stone ,
words of stone ,
trees and eyes of stone ;
There are beggars in China .
There are beggars in China
near the dreamy gardens of
Buddha and Confucius,
in the small hour dramas outside
the Shang-Aan theatre
where the Beijing Opera turns magical
at its grand finale .
Distanced from the debates at the
Social Science Institute,
beneath the blossoming trees where
the lovers intertwine in the moon light,
on the fragrant road
to the Van Niyan Hotel in Shanghai ,
there are beggars in China.
Amidst the dragon legs of the world’s
longest fly-over (?),
I saw :
A story shabby and torn,
A song withered and cracking
A history of curse and justice
A body of soil,
A posture of fire,
A glance of water,
A stride of wind,
A rest of gutters,
A growl of the wild cat –
a phonation beyond the needs
of translation .
Except that the gene designs are Mongoloid,
Everything is just like the Indian beggars .
I have heard once as springtime vaunt in Anthikkad*
that Revolution created an era of
beggarlessness in China .
Today at Tien en men Square,
On the gray silence of the jade
the perturbed waves of beggars
in the yellow sunbeams and silver moon-rays
between the giant portrait and worshipped corpse
of Mao Tse-tung
the souls of slaughtered children of revolution ,
a thousand new Bodhiswapnas
sieving out the poisoned rays,
they meditate to purify the
light of China .
In new expanses
whisky and Michael Jackson
sings democracy and celebrates the new openings.
you came to our university campus
in mid sixties
with a comrade and a modernist friend
with visuals of jungles past and present
with a vision of a new battle for justice.
Like a fresh wind of October
you joined us
and smoothened our entry into history
with love, dreams and plans.
You told us about the sleeping rebel powers
of mountains and forests of the new minds;
quite often you talked of the day when
‘the Andes would become
the Sierra Maestra of America.’
Our modernist friend said:
you are the red star over the world
tarnished by America;
you are the future of the world
crippled by America;
you are the Jesus of the modern age
crucified by America.
Although you remained evergreen in us
showed us the exit to the oceans
from the lyrical ponds of our
post Independent Indian youth;
the exit to the storm from the water lily breeze
of our weeping romantic poems;
dear doctor, you redefined us
living with us
living for us
living in us
passing the confidence of torrents into our deserts
weaving sunlit paths into our prodigal nights.
You brought world into our words
and future into our past.
You opened blast-furnaces for our ore.
Who can hear the Buddha Sing?
Hafez, the Persian poet to his
Your truth searching eyes are like
burning embers. Who among
you can hear the Buddha sing?
This night, let us raise our goblets
in Buddha’s honour
Let us shoot the words towards
the organic beauty of a Japanese Haiku.
No disciple claimed they could hear the Budhha sing
When the dog between your legs
goes on barking
When the unending hunger between your thighs
goes on burning
Who will hear the Buddha sing?
No disciple claimed they could hear the Buddha sing
Neither did Hafez ever hear
Nor anybody who I know
ever did hear the music of the Buddha
When we form a group
Lust, violence and caste
Become our sole refuge
When we are alone
The lion in my flesh will
go on loving the lion in her flesh
Claiming you are nothing but me
and I am nothing but you
Or, the lion in my mind
will drive away from love
The lion in her mind
Claiming you alone is what you are
and I alone am what I am
The jackal in the mobile will
go on howling.
The wolf that hides in the knowledge will
Go on tasting the meat of
the deer in the dreams
In the lonely mind,
there is only the bubbling up of the animal instinct
and no Nirvana, Hafez
Oh, Sufi saints, Oh, Hafez
Oh, the golden silence among the icy mountains
And those who mediate in loneliness
Now I can very clearly hear the voice which says
That the Patna-Kochi Express is running late
louder than the Buddha
His words are prophetic
Echoing the time.
I cannot but listen to him
In my railway tracks
To run the daily meanings
and in my classes
to live my daily Niravana.
Translated from Malayalam by Dr. Prasad Pannian, Central University, Kasargod, Kerala.
In Kaakkanaadan, did you see Camus?
What bus are you waiting for?
Are you P. Padmarajan?
Saw you in the Town Hall yesterday, didn’t I?
Had gone there.
For the Gandhi Water Seeds seminar?
Didn’t you hear what Vandana Shiva said
That Gandhi is the greater one?
Than Marx, than Mao?
Then, oh man!, when I hooted why didn’t you hoot with me?
Didn’t feel like it.
Did you feel that in Marx there is Gandhi?
In the roots of Independence
Did you get the smell of Nationalism?
I did. Sandal wood smell.
That smell was like the Ark, I felt.
In the Market deluge, hitting against ice,
The Ark became Titanic.
In every mall you can buy that smell
Foreign fashion, Yardley powder.
In Jesus’s parables
Did you hear Buddha’s parables?
As the same story-sheep
I saw the messages grazing.
Buddha’s sheep, men ate.
Jesus’s sheep, God ate.
The praise-singers still sang praises.
In Rehman, did you hear Jackson?
In some lightning passages, I did.
In Sachin’s sixes, did you see Bradman?
In some hits of Sachin
I saw the wings of swans;
Beings that don’t lose their strength
And fall into the ocean;
Stones that don’t fall from the summits
In Kaakkanaadan, did you see Camus?
In some moments of madness
I heard Camus
Calling Kaakkanaadan “Oh Sisyphus”.
Did you see Ramapurath Varier?
As if I wouldn’t!
Even yesterday I did.
Under the same broken umbrella
In two political showers.
Like the father and son
Of A. K. Ramanujan’s poem –
Getting wet on the left side
On the right side when coming
In swadeshi, did you feel there is videshi?
The strangling in the liberalism?
That the new fertilizer is earth’s poison?
That the new seed is the terminator?
That the new fruit is the loss of paradise?
Do you feel suspicious of faith?
Until the window bars became jail bars.
Until Mattaancheri became Manhattan.
Until the Kuttipuram bridge
Became the London bridge.
Oh, but then,
Where is the bridge
Without another bridge? don’t you think?
In the new shower
Are all the old showers; don’t you think?
One can take comfort that way too.
So then you are not P. Padmarajan?
Translated from Malayalam by K.A.Jayaseelan
1.Well-known lunatic asylum. The three names mentioned in the next paragraph are those of a well-known film director and two writers — none of them now living, as the Malayali reader would know.
2 . Idappally and Ramapurath Varier were two Malayalam poets, (The latter is an ancient poet, the former more recent.)
Mattaancherri is an area in Kochi.
Kutippuram bridge is over the river Bharathappuzha in Malabar,Kerala.
Kaakkanaadan – Eminent short story writer and novelist in Malayalam. Modernist. Existentialist.
Dr. K.A.Jayaseelan- Professor Emeritus, CIEFL , Hyderabad; well known Malayalam poet, internationally renowned linguist. Lives in Hyderabad.
Robinson Crusoe sailed to Shanghai shore
in a fiber boat
anchoring the seventh trade fleet in Yellow sea.
O! Chinese soil and sunlight, my salute!
Trying to find his way to the revolving restaurant,
he roamed around the Bund*:
saw the way, took the elevator to the top,
grabbed a chair.
The restaurant is revolving slowly
may be due to its communist axis,
only leftward, anti-clockwise.
Gazing to his left, Crusoe saw
The Pacific Ocean,
a crouching satellite orbiting the eastern horizon –
the new Confucius of China.
Crusoe felt he is transforming into a character of
Gabriel Garcia Marquez**,
with an innate ability to pulse the earth’s rotation.
The waiter came from the left,
heard with the left ear,
wrote with the left hand
and went to the left.
He came back with duck dishes of three flavors,
and a glass of whisky:
Sir, three choices of Beijing Duck –
Boiled in a mix of salt and pepper: The classical,
what Lao Tzu preferred.
dipped in soya sauce:
what the emperors enjoyed
during the years of revolution.
grilled in salt, pepper, and
flavored with bear- blood sauce:
Mao’s delicacy, during the Cultural Revolution.
Prepared from Chinese ducklings, only the
Ingredients are imported.
Sip by sip
Ascending the heights of whisky
tasting the neo essence of wisdom
hidden in the bone marrows of the past
Crusoe feasted without a hurry,
tasting London, New York, Paris, Amsterdam
and elsewhere in Shanghai,
seeing world as a single trade centre
humanity as a single consumer race.
The restaurant kept revolving leftward, like a
huge clock traveling back in time:
And the world was revolving rightward.
Note: * – The Bund is a waterfront area in central Shanghai.
(Translated from Malayalam by Aditya Shankar)
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