Friday, July 11, 2014

New Lesson from Old Book: Arun Kale

Kamal, start the Maha-arati
Rijia, start the Maha-namaj
Gautam, go to the Mukhia’s house
and feed the cows
David, fly pigeons,
Karim, mark the temples
Chhagan, mark the mosques
mark each other’s religion
mark each other’s caste
and hate each other
hurl stones on each other
bring stones, hurl them on.

Translated by Swapna Banerjee-Guha

Before the Vedas : Baburao Bagul

You lived before the birth of the Vedas
even before the birth of the Almighty
looking at the frightening material world
pained and anxious
you raised your hands and prayed
those prayers went to make the Vedic verse,
it is you who celebrated the birth of all gods, and
named them happily
oh the mighty humans, you named the sun
and the sun got its identity,
you named the moon
and the moon got its fame
only you gave a name to this world
and it was accepted with honour
oh the creative, the genius humans,
you are the cause
because of you so beautiful, so lively is the world.

Translated by Swapna Banerjee-Guha

Stage Waharu: Sonawane

We didn’t go up to the stage
no one asked us, actually
only by pointing fingers
they showed us our place
and we sat there;
‘great’, they exclaimed.
And they went up on the stage
started narrating us our own sorrows
but, ‘our sorrows remained ours
never became theirs…’
in confusion we whispered.
They tried to listen and sighed
And then plucking our ears hard
‘say sorry, otherwise….’.

Translated by Swapna Banerjee-Guha

Bodhi Tree: Mina Gajbhiye

Here is a settlement.
Houses with red-tiled roofs,
planned roads,
gardens and lawns.

It is a laboratory to mold people…
Minds are being forged
        in what sort of furnace?
Smiles on faces and poison in hearts,
no harmony between thought and action.
The same old customary drill is on.

Those calculating faces,
somewhat sophisticated,
are going to change their masks and come out
singing the arati of my welcome.

I am satisfied that
I have sown the seeds
But here they have already started the preparations
     for the resistance…
I am doubtful:
Will at least one seed sprout?

Bodhi tree…………..

translated by Shubhangi Apte and Slyvie Martinezwith some changes by Eleanor Zelliot

Mother: Jyoti Lanjewar

I have never seen you
Wearing one of those gold-bordered saris
With a gold necklace
With gold bangles
With fancy sandals
Mother! I have seen you
Burning the soles of your feet in the harsh summer sun
Hanging your little ones in a cradle on an acacia tree
Carrying barrels of tar
Working on a road construction crew…………

I have seen you
With a basket of earth on your head
Rags bound on your feet
Giving a sweaty kiss to the naked child
Who came tottering over to you
Working for your daily wage, working, working………

I have seen you
Turning back the tide of tears
Trying to ignore your stomach's growl
Suffering parched throat and lips
Building a dam on a lake………

I have seen you
For a dream of four mud walls
Stepping carefully, pregnant
On the scaffolding of a sky scraper
Carrying a hod of wet cement on your head………..

I have seen you
In evening, untying the end of your sari
For the coins to buy salt and oil,
Putting a five paise coin
On a little hand
Saying 'go eat candy'
Taking the little bundle from the cradle to your breast
Saying "Study, become an Ambedkar"
And let the baskets fall from my hands…………

I have seen you
Sitting in front of the stove
Burning your very bones
To make coarse bread and a little something
To feed everybody, but half-fed yourself
So there'd would a bit in the morning………..

I have seen you
Washing clothes and cleaning pots
In different households
Rejecting the scraps of food offered to you
With pride
Covering yourself with a sari
That had been mended so many times
Saying "Don't you have a mother or a sister?"
To anyone who looked at you with lust in his eyes……….

I have seen you
On a crowded street with a market basket on your head
Trying always to keep your head covered with the end of your sari
Chasing anyone who nudged you deliberately
With your sandal in your hand…………

I have seen you working until sunset
Piercing the darkness to turn toward home,
Then forcing from the door
That man who staggered in from the hooch hut……..

I have seen you
At the front of the Long March
The end of your sari tucked tightly at the waist
Shouting "Change the name"
Taking the blow of the police stick on your upraised hands
Going to jail with head held high………

I have seen you
Saying when your only son
Fell martyr to police bullets
"You died for Bhim, your death means something"
saying boldly to the police
"If I had two or three sons, I would be fortunate.
They would fight on."

I have seen you on your deathbed
Giving that money you earned
Rag-picking to the diksha bhumi
Saying with your dying breadth
"Live in unity……. fight for Baba………. don't forget him……….
And with your very last breadth
"Jai Bhim."
I have seen you……..

I have never seen you
Even wanting a new broad-bordered sari

Mother, I have seen you………..

translated by Sylvie Martinez, Rujita Pathre, S. K. Thorat, Vimal Thorat, and Eleanor Zelliot.

Sounds: Jyoti Lanjewar

What sounds are these?
Do fish in water weep
or waves sob?
We lost the way
but kept on, hoping
the way would end
but it's we who will end…
Look at the trees on the shore
lip to lip, whispering 
about us, but the birds
have closed their eyes
with the sun.
The sky garbed
in dark,
searching stars
heart swayed
by swaying waves
now aflame.
Let's plunge in 

and drown then.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New Delhi, 1985: Namdeo Dhasal

New Delhi, 1985

The needle probes for the artery;
Enemies of poetry gather in your city.
Your town is cursed with power;
Roses flow in this stream of blood;
The waters of your Yamuna stand exposed.

India Gate:
Over there, the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
How ruthlessly has this city been combed and groomed!
White elephants sway at the gate of the past.
Goldsmiths mould replicas of peacocks.
Your well-carpentered glory.
Long Kashmiri carpets are rolled out in your streets.
Armed regiments on alert;
The showy itch of culture;
Wooing guests, dancing before them;
Parading cavalry;
Anti-aircraft guns;
Nuclear missiles to frighten off enemies;
The President accepting a salute from those hanging between the sky and the earth;
The Prime Minister shaking hands
With the glorified blemished.
What a spectacular festival.