I put the whole village to sleep
While spending sleepless nights,
I keep guard over the roads leading to the village
While Brahma Jemudus grow in the path of my life.
Who am I? I am human too
I am Yanadi Yenkanna
I swear on my father that I believe in the sun
I have been withering in the sun for ages
I have no shade to turn to;
Hitching the sun to the sky directly on top of my head
to keep watch, and swearing by the crowbar
I tied a thaali around Lachchi's neck.
I don't know
Whether it is athiesm or animism
But I am the Adi Dalit
Who first excommunicated Brahmanvad.
With Lachchi by my side
I cross streams and ponds
to catch a few fish;
Following the flow of water
I throw baits and catch fish.
I am aiming my spear
at the hearts of those
whales which swallow the fish,
the rich landlords who swallow our lives.
Hey! I am fumigating your homes
drops of sweat.
My translation of G.V. Ratnakar's Telugu poem 'yAnAdOnni' from the anthology of Dalit poetry 'padunekkina pATa'.
*Yanadi: pronounced 'yAnAdi'; the Yanadis are an extremely marginalised, pre-dravidian, tribal community who live in Nellore and Chittoor districts of Andhra Pradesh, mostly. Traditionally, their chief occupations have been hunting, gathering, fishing etc. Though many of them are now engaged in jobs involving manual labour, a section of them still lead a semi-nomadic existence.
* Brahma Jemudu: a kind of cactus.
* Thaali: pronounced 'taali'; the mangalsutra.