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Archive for January, 2012

It is not binding on us to undertake this journey

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

It is not binding on us to undertake this journey

The ravished landscape, the settlements

of emaciated bodies

couldn't be the path of life, could it?

And are we to rest under this leafless tree?

Or quench a lifetime's thirst

in these dry riverbeds?

No, this ravishment would never be

our way of life.

The sun vomitting fire,

valleys gagged with the silence of ages,

the parched desert

and only our feet unshod

A road must be levelled out

smooth and metalled,

which is why I say

It is not binding on us to undertake this journey.

It's a flock of sheep which walks

along the metalled road and when time comes

returns mutely to the fold

And we understand.


Manohar Wakode's Marathi poem translated by Charudatta Bhagwat.

Source: No entry for the new sun. Translations from Modern Marathi Dalit poetry. Edited by Arjun Dangle

So Many Alphabets are Seen

Saturday, January 7th, 2012


Crisscross marks of the broom

Made of coconut leaf-bristles fill the tidied front yard

Bursting in laughter and fragrance

Stands the Ilanji tree at the margin of the yard

Clean after bath black kids wait

On the verandah looking for a come back

Clean kitchen pots and vessels bask in evening light

Along with spatulas made of coconut shells


Such small changes are seen everywhere you see

The home you left for work is not the one you enter after work

The children are also changed as you come back

With the wage of paddy in the corner folding of loincloth


Who cleaned and kept the littered house like this?

Who made the little dirty ones with running nose

Into smiling flowers with fragrance?


Yes, so many alphabets are seen

In their eyes.


Ajay Sekher's translation of the Malayalam poem “So Many Alphabets are Seen” by poet M R Renukumar. 

M R Renukumar is a poet, writer and painter from Kottayam. 

Rise to learn and Act

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

~Savitribai Phule


Weak and oppressed! Rise my brother

Come out of living in slavery.  

Manu-follower Peshwas are dead and gone

Manu’s the one who barred us from education.

Givers of knowledge– the English have come

Learn, you’ve had no chance in a millennium.

We’ll teach our children and ourselves to learn

Receive knowledge, become wise to discern.

An upsurge of jealousy in my soul

Crying out for knowledge to be whole.

This festering wound, mark of caste

I’ll blot out from my life at last.

In Baliraja’s kingdom, let’s beware

Our glorious mast, unfurl and flare.

Let all say, “Misery go and kingdom come!”

Awake, arise and educate

Smash traditions-liberate!

We’ll come together and learn


Slumber not but blow the trumpet

O Brahman, dare not you upset.

Give a war cry, rise fast

Rise, to learn and act.


Sunil Sardar and Victor Paul have translated this poem along with four other poems for a chapter in a lovely book titled: A forgotten liberator: The life and struggles of Savitribai Phule. These poems were translated from M.G. Mali’s original Marathi collection Savitribai Phule Samagra Wangmaya.

Bodhi Tree (pimpalvrksa)

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

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…………..


Mina Gajbhiye's Marathi poem 'pimpalvrksa' translated by Shubhangi Apte and Slyvie Martinez with some changes by Eleanor Zelliot

About this poem, Eleanor Zelliot writes "seems to indicate the touching faith that the seed of Buddhism might possibly overcome the traditionalism and hypocrisy of Hinduism." 

Source: Images of women in Maharastrian Literature and Religion. Edited by Anne Feldhaus.

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