Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Revolution:Arjun Dangle

Arjun Dangle


We used to be their friends
When, clay pots hung from our necks;
Brooms tied to our rumps;
We made our rounds through the Upper Lane
Calling,”Ma –bap,Johar,Ma-bap”

We fought with crows,
Never even giving them the snot from our noses
As we dragged out the Upper Lane’s dead cattle,
Skinned it neatly
And shared the meat among ourselves.
They used to love us then.
We warred with jackals-dogs-vultures-kites
Because we ate their share.
Today we see a root-to-crown change.
Are our closest friends.
The Upper Lane doors are closed to us
“shout victory to the Revolution”
“shout victory”

“burn,burn those who strike at tradition.”
 Translated by Jayant Karve and Eleanor Zelliott

Translator’s note:

In the peshwa days of the 18th century,according to legend Untouchables wore pots around their necks to keep their spittle from polluting the ground and brooms to obliterate their footprints. The Mahar used a special greeting: ”Johar Ma-bap” (hail, mother and father) rather than the usual “Ram.Ram” or “namaste” and among his traditional duties was the hauling of cattle carcasses from the village. The final verse is ironic, not exhortative.” shout victory to the Revolution” is a quotation from a Brahman poet. Dangle’s point is that while the elite call for revolution, those who revolt are burned.

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