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Archive for March, 2011

The Existence

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

You fix our feet
With iron chains
And ask:
‘Fly, fly
The whole sky is yours, isn’t it!’

But this unjust atrocity
Itself will light
The fire of revolt.

Taking together
Earth with our feet,
We will soar the high skies
Like a hawk
One day.

Our answer shall be
Nothing but
Our graceful existence,
Riches full of pride and
Unmatched ability. 


G K Vankar's translation of B N Vankar's Gujarati poem 'The Existence

Operation equality

Friday, March 25th, 2011


Without seeing and knowing

Without reading or thinking

Without understanding

You attacked like stupid.


O brother so innocent,

Like this, would communism come?

Water in place of land

Land where there is water

Pit where there is hill

And mountain where there is valley

Only by making such drastic changes

Will there be revolution/?


It is none of your business to be a comrade

You are so sentimental

Leave alone Marx and Mao,

Had you played with a tribal boy in Nuxalbari school

You would do some good.


You are becoming anarchist uncontrolled and

Burn dry and wet indiscriminately.

You devour good along with bad,

In a sentiment if you break everything

Will it make Nav Nirman?

May be you can make every thing a level,

You cannot make every thing equal.

Yes, you chose an auspicious day,

26th January,

the republic day of the nation.


The innocent children of Anjar  were

Unfurling the fake flags of freedom, equality and fraternity

And like an anarchist you attacked them at random.


You were so mad with rage that you could not even find a correct epicenter.

Kutch is a land of saints and donors,

There may be rare outlaws like Jeasal too

O good brother,

For you Delhi or Gandhinagar were not so far.


Yes, you are right.

The time is such that you burn with rage

You may wish to break to pieces the God

Who had promised to reincarnate himself

but has hidden himself

Instead in the idols.


Without seeing and knowing

Without reading or thinking

Without understanding


Some hang around for a drop of water

Some have highjacked the lakes and lakes to their terraces

Some crave for a ray of moonlight

While some have hidden entire sun behind their skyscraper.

Some have dried riverbed springs

And some have controlled Narmda and brought to their village.


Eager we too are

Doing all the bonded labor since centuries.

We made them netizens from citizens

And in return we wander exiled

But we are humane:

Our one eye weeps the other is red with rage

We do not wish to make this culture mohenjodaro.

we do not believe like mad Parsuram in the bloody revolution,

We are the followers of compassionate Buddha.


Come, see the effects of your aftershocks.

And repent like the King of Kalinga.

No one appeared when the cyclone blew on Orissa.

With their NRI connections

The series of overseas flights arrives

And white dogs identify the stench of their corpses earlier.

Rescue relief rehabilitation everything occurs here as per

The hierarchy of varnasham dharma

Government theirs, swaymsewakas theirs

For them at the maternal uncle’s place mother serves the food

And we are the helpless ones!

The rich Swiss tents were taken away by the leaders and officers

Pyjamas from Pakistan were taken away by the chaddi-banian- dharis.

We hardly had a share of a piece of tin or tarpaulin

Their vastushastris said

‘as per their caste, allot them the plots.

We were given the wastelands of the village ponds.

Come, get early salvation by drowning in the ponds!


O kind brother earthquake,

Your operation equality is a failure.

Even if you strike at a Richter scale

of whatever magnitude

You will not be able to remove

India’s social nature and environment.

You may have limitless kindness

And yet you will not be able to realize

Baba’s dream written in

the preface of Indian constitution.


Of course, they will remember

The nights lighted by the stars

though under the shadow of fear.


Hence please do not strike again

Without seeing and knowing

Without reading or thinking

Without understanding anything.


G K Vankar's translation of Neerav Patel's Gujarati poem "Operation equality". On 26 January 2001 Kutch, Gujarat was affected by a massive earthquake. Nav Nirman refers to a Youth agitation against corruption.  


Neerav Patel  holds a Ph.D. in English literature, born 2 December,1950. He is a well-known Dalit poet and editor. He edits Swaman, a journal of dalit writings, notably pieces of autobiographical prose. Along with Dalpat Chauhan and Praveen Gadhavi, he initiated Gujarati dalit literature with publication of Dalit Panthers’ 'Kalo Suraj' (The Black Sun). A bi-lingual writer, his collections of poetry are 'Baghishkrut Phulo '(2006), 'Burning from both the ends' (1980, in English), and 'What did I do to be black and blue' (1987 in English). He served as a Bank Officer, after his retirement he devotes his entire time to Dalit literature and activity.

When I was born

Monday, March 21st, 2011

When I was born I was not a child
I was a dream, a dream of revolt
that my mother, oppressed for thousands of years ,

Still it is untouched in my eyes
Covered with wrinkles of thousand years, her face
her eyes, two lakes overflowing with tears
have watered my body
I remember she went for water at your well
a mile away scorched by the summer sun
breathless she returned home and what she offered me,
was not water
but her sweat.
You taught her respect:
‘brother, sir, father, mother, we are your children, let us live, father”
I remember
You allowed her not near the village well
You allowed her not near the village hall
You allowed her not near the letters
In the marshland of your cunningness
You trapped my mother and she struggled.
In your empire so violent
every moment my mother was slaughtered.
She will now breathe in a free air
Her body scorched by sun will get cool shade of neem
Your well will wash her feet and
Your village office will be her throne.
Your letters will become her weapons
Look, I am the lord of Saraswati who was thus far yours and yours alone.
I am the lord of Lakshmi who was thus far yours and yours only
My daughter pulls ears of Ganpati considering him an animal
I do not decorate her eyes with lampblack, but with defiance.
Now they will burn and burn
Your flats and tenements, your schools and your offices
Your chains and your police stations, your village offices and your temples.
I am the live coal , the coal that burns
In the hut that you set ablaze.
I have some wind of the freedom
Now I am the fire.
I remember
When I was born I was not a child
I was a dream,
A dream of revolt
That my mother ,
Oppressed for thousands of years dreamt. 


G K Vankar's translation of Sahil Parmar's Gujarati poem "When I was born" from his poetry collection Mathaman.

Sahil Parmar, born 1 October 1958, is a Government employee. His collections of poetry are Vyatha Pachisi (1984), Ek rakabi futi (1991), and Mathaman (2006). 

The nameless ones (anamikas)

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Begging won't get anything here

            not sympathy, not love

A suit in court wins injustice,

Tears are of no value,

Getting water is a struggle,

Wrapping yourself in smoke from a dead fire won't work

You have to plant the cinder of revolt in your own body.

At times there is a firefly of revolt flickering -maybe

    counterfeit –

But at those times give it outside air to see if it glows.

"The revolution will come through poetry"

Once I accepted that.

But poetry does not live by making revolution.

The same faithless faces of yesterday

        extend the hand of friendship

        while wounding with a sword…….. and

        in their struggle with the enemy were

       made impotent.

They burned houses down with words

But after the house burned, the words died.

For the sake of the poetry of humanity

      one must be so very human,

But they change with the wind…….

And these green parrots of the dry desert turn out to be 

       a mirage.

They turn their eyes where they wish, according to their 

      own convenience.

When there is no strength

      in their own wings

They find the convenient words

      to cut the wings of others.

They make palaces of words!

But I have seen them crumble.

"Kala Ram" and "Chawdar Tank" –

         the history of pain

         is carved on each of our hearts

But even if they could carve words on water

The Indrayani will not save them.


Eleanor Zelliot's translation of Jyoti Lanjewar's poem 'anamikas'.  Jyoti Lanjewar is a professor of Marathi in Nagpur university. "The nameless ones" is a criticism of those within the Ambedkar movement itself. Kala Ram and Chawdar Tank are places that witnessed Satyagraha between 1930-1935. The last line of the poem refers to the poet saint Tukaram who threw his poems into the Indrayani river at the behest of critical brahmins. 

Source: Images of women in Maharashtrian literature and religion


The dalit ghetto

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Under your* fascist sky
Slowly pants the terrified dalit ghetto.
Under your fascist sky
Slowly pants the terrified dalit ghetto.
Call it a fungus or a stale bread
Or an oasis in a desert
It drinks all similes
In a single breath
like lattha.
Sometimes it laughs loudly
And the Savarna sky shivers.
Making existence a float
It flows in the fall of pain
In its arms
Torn papers, broken glasses
Plastic and iron junk.
It creates arms of new creation,
The eager and lonesome army,
the dalit ghetto
The small string cots snugly arranged
One on the other.
On the stack of quilt,
Wearing thin towel, time screams.
In its borders mannerly
It rapes so-called civility unknowingly.
Its equations about relations are unique.
Behind unseen walls pine so silent the dalit ghetto.

*Caste Hindu 

G K Vankar's translation of Raju Solanki's Gujarati poem 'The Dalit Ghetto', from his forthcoming poetry collection. 

Raju Solanki, born on 18 August 1961, is a leading dalit poet and activist, and a freelance journalist. He is the President of Jati Nirmulan Sangh. As an activist, has made important contribution towards dalit solidarity with women and minority groups. His collection of poetry is Mashal (1986), and his street play, Bamanvadni Barakhdi (c.1986). His new collection of poetry is under preparation. He regularly recites poetry with writers from other marginalized groups in slums for social change. His poetry is versatile with powerful depiction of caste, gender, and politics of religion.

You write

Friday, March 11th, 2011

For the first time, you write the twang of existence
For the first time, you write the struggle in words.

It should not become an occasion of commotion
Write in words the interaction of silence.

The pains of the era would arrive in the words
You write the screams coming from all directions.

Some moment will catch its meanings
Write the shapes emerging on the walls.

The caravans will move towards the sun
You write such a thought piercing the night.

Our sufferings have remained unwritten
Write, do write all the incidents in detail.

The eye that discriminates between man and man
Write the scorn of the whole human race. 


G K Vankar's translation of A K Dodiya's Gujarati poem "You write"  from the poetry collection "Suryonmukha".

We refuse

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

We refuse
To cool the fire within us
In the sea of pain
And we grow
In our sad eyes
The raging volcanoes.

We refuse
To give palpitating embrace
To hateful inequality
And in the terrified palms
We draw lines of fate afresh.

We refuse
To preserve the worn out walls of
A narrow world
And beyond horizons
We soar
The new sky.



G K Vankar's translation of the Gujarati poem "We refuse' written by the poet B N Vankar

The valley

Friday, March 4th, 2011

In the distance
in the horizon,
yes, I can perceive a shape like a deep valley.
A bird is passing and lo,
It disappears all of a sudden!
Do my eyes play a trick on me?
I rub my eyes, open them wide,
Try to lighten the load on the eyelids
And the shapes change –
Someone’s head separates from the body swims in the air,
Some feet crushed from knees gallop
As if from a balloon a red color drips, the red tears flow from
The cut breasts crushed by venomous fingers.
On the fourth floor the wild bears clench their teeth
And slaughter meek men,
Below –
The blood rushes:
Man-thirsty blood.
An invisible bird
Settles on the unseen land of mind,
Searches for its wings!
The shapes disperse,
The silence weighing in the sky
Is embraced in the anxious arms of the earth
S l o w l y. 


G K Vankar's translation of Harish Mangalam's poem 'The valley' from his poetry collection Prakamp.

Harish Mangalam, born 15 February, 1952, is a Govt. officer (Gujarat Administrative Service). He is editor of 'Hayati', published by Gujarat Dalit Sahitya Academy, Gandhinagar. He also served as the editor of Pratinidhi dalit varta (1997). He has to his credit one collection of poems, 'Prakamp' (1991), and two novels, 'Tirad' (1992) and 'Choki' ( 2002). His short story 'Talap' was published in Katha stories (2001). He is recipient of St.Kabir Dalit Sahitya Award. 


Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Give me some water from Ganges,
and add waters of seven sacred rivers.
I want to wash thoroughly the brain hanging from
the broken skull of this Chittapavan Brahmin.

Give me a Tata detergent cake
I want to wash each and every cell of his brain.
I want to scrub and scrub to remove the rust on his
thinking since centuries.

This is the Brahmin’s center of hearing,
Along with hymns of Vedas,
Anustupa Meter of Valmiki,
Verses of Upanishadas,
The stanzas of Manusmriti are also taped here.
O’ Brahmin, you are free to chant Upanishads on
the bank of the Ganges at dawn,
But there is no need of the venomous curses of Manusmriti.

This is the center of vision which has given me
black identity since centuries.
O’ Brahmin,
See the blue sky of winter, see the green of forests,.
see the seven colors of rainbow, too
But why do you see the black color of my skin?

This is the Brahmin’s center of smell.
It is stimulated by the stink of my perspiration,
my breath, my karma, my existence.
O Brahmin, there are flowers of jasmine on the earth to smell.
And if there is stink
It comes from corruption, hoarding and lies.
Why my odor is a stink to you?

This is the Brahmin’s center of touch.
This center turns green at the slightest touch of Mahasweta’s breath.
Even with touch of my shadow, it turns bright red hot.

O’ Brahmin, if we had fought together against intruders
We would have not become slaves in history.
In this cell, there is anger against reservation,
Here there is disgust, here hate, here rage of Durvasa,
This false sense of being superior.

Please bring one more detergent cake.
I want to wash each and every cell of your brain thoroughly.
O’ Brahmin, even curd is spoiled if it remains unattended for long.
Your brain is as it is since Vedic times.
See, how disordered, how rotten, how dirty has it become.
Please bring more water from the Ganges and waters from seven sacred rivers. 


G K Vankar's translation of Pravin Gadhavi's poem Brainwash from his poetry collection The Bayonet (1985). 

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