Eight Women Poets in Translation from the Malayalam by Arathy Asok

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Eight Women Poets in Translation from the Malayalam by Arathy Asok

Poetry in Translation to English from the Malayalam by Arathy Asok

Mrudula Devi S

Milindi Pootatte*

O wind, echoing the mountains,
O wind, leading the rains,
bestow sleep here, wind, in the eyes of my little one.

If you sleep not, my darling,
the wind will not sleep tonight;
when the heart is filled with sorrow,
the wailing wind will not rest.

So sleep now, closing your flowery-eye
and the wind sleep in the rain trees.

Now let me sleep, my eyes shut,
and the wind slumber by the river.


*Title in Paluva (Parayah) language in the original meaning is 'Close your Eyes.' The original poem has been translated to Malayalam by Balachandran Chullikkad. Mrudula Devi S is editorial board member of Patabhedam Magazine. She is a poet, orator, and social activist.

***

Ashalatha

What is My Name Now?

Where are you now,
an old,
a very old friend asks.

I am here, I call out from an island,
covered by water
on four sides.

I lie afloat in the middle of the water
like the lord lying on the snake.

You have to yell
from ashore
there is no phone, connectivity, or internet
for the messages;

you have to holler,
louder and louder;
you will not be able to cross the water and reach
here.

As there are no processions
for Onam-Vishu-Ramzan-Christmas
nor special editions
or rakshaythras, nothing.

I simply sit
looking into the water.

Fishes are racing,
tiny mermaids lifting their head,
flapping their wings;

friend,
my name is now
Sit-Alone.

I forgot,
What is your name?
What is your name now?

Ashalatha is a poet and translator. Her poetry collections include Kadalpacha and Ella Uduppum Azhikkumbol.

***

Chitra K P

Meditation

Leaves falling
from giant trees,
in the forest.

There was no haste;
stood watching the leaves,
rising and falling,
slithering,
in the wind.

There was no haste;
heard the sound of a leaf touching
the silk of the soil.

A skink on a rock.
Stood looking at it meditating.
There was no haste.

Saw the leaves drop, from giant trees,
In the lizard-eyes.

In the thundering silence,
felt the Buddha.

In a city's morning,
I saw the Buddha again,

a brown-coloured Buddha,
meditating,
by the rubbish heap

Chitra K P is a poet from Kerala, who currently teaches Social Work at Central University of Tamil Nadu.

***

Stalina

Secret

Shall I say a secret?
The god there and the god here, are in love.

Even yesterday, I saw their fingers entwining,
when they walked;
and their lips meeting
in a moment of farewell.

There was no heavenly bread on their beards,
Or the wetness of holy waters in their matted hair;

but instead,
only red revolutions ,
in the shared wounds,
of flowered blooms,
when they slept together.
You who are there,
And here too,

Pronounce the sentence!

Stalina is a bilingual poet writing in Malayalam and English. She is currently working on her first collection of poems.

***

M R Radhamani

Lice-Ridden Petticoat

It was a lice-ridden petticoat
that laughed out loud,
making rainbows,
dipping the appavanakk stem in its gum,
letting it flying into sunlight.

It was a lice-ridden petticoat that knew
that taro leaves without tamarind
would still break the tongue and throat in an prickle,
though boiled in salt and chilli;

or knew that karingana fishes would not play hide and seek
in white-watered glass bottles,
as between the small rivulets of paddy fields;

or whose mouth watered
when threshing the three-parted sheaves
thinking of Puttu bathed in dark coffee, left in the hovel;

or calls out loud “ayyo, patho
on seeing a rising stick
after being roguish

or said
that child-catchers hide
in roads where people do not move.

I am fretful still,
when a petticoat in sleep-wilted hunger
crawls lice-ridden near my flaming hunger.

Where would I then,
hide myself?

M R Radhamani is a poet and story story writer whose first collection of poems is titled 'Vazhypokkathi.' This is the title poem of her upcoming collection, Penthalayulla Petticoat.

***

Dhanya M D

An Ordinary Yellow Poem

When reading, seated,
in the courtyard by the West,
a yellow-lighted day
a python of the same yellow hue
invisible, transparent,
gawked at me.

I too, returned the look.

Abruptly crawling out “shrr….shrr” from the dark leaves,
it gulped me swiftly,
like an animation film.

Now glancing from yellow eyes warmth-soaked,
I see,
a world drenched in clear sunlight outside,
sparkling, blanched in yellow!

Dhanya M D is a Dalit woman poet writing since 2004. Her first collection of poems is Amygdala.

***

Dona Mayoora

To Her, Who Counters Kovalam, When I Say Keralam

For her who counters Kovalam, when I say Keralam,
and discerns an Indian woman
from a tattoo on the forehead
and a banner that is draped,
I am still not an Indian.

Once while eating fried adder,
She asked me “Are you a vegetarian?”
And I told her that I wanted to call her four words of theri,
(was she frying mustards in sand so long?)
and she replied, “Who is Terry?"

So I said,
four words of theri
are four-lettered words, like your four-letter word,
and she laughed out loud and hugged me.

It again took six years
to teach her four Malayalam alphabets.
It was then she started buying
palam*, neettia paal, and pachakkaadi**.

When she called to say
she decided on shaving off her head
to beat chemo,
we both laughed,
that grass even grows,
where the atom bombs fell.

Smiling, she said, Kovalam
seeing the peacock feather
stuck in the bouquet,
I took to see her in the hospital.

You are incorrigible,
but you’re a fighter
and so, for you, hugs and kisses.

*accentuated word for pazham meaning banana.
**accentuated word for pachakkari meaning vegetable.

Dona Mayoora is a bilingual, visual, experimental poet and published author in India and Sweden.

***

Ammu Deepa

Noon

The noon you were laid to rest,
I sat near the pond,
where we used to sit once.

In the blue of the petals,
of the water blooms .
your sorrowful eyes .

A bird treads on the water lily leaves.
In its steps I see,
the intense care,
of my love for you.

The edge of a bird nail
scrapes
the water lily leaves.

A spurt of blood
bursts
from my heart.

Ammu Deepa has recently brought out her collection of poems titled Karimkutti. She is a widely published poet.

***

Arathy Asok is a poet, writer and translator whose latest work is The Lost Heroine (translation) from Speaking Tiger. Her collection of poems is titled Lady Jesus and other Poems. She is a moderator at The Quarantine Train poetry collective, curated by Arjun Rajendran.

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