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Archive for March, 2012

I am the Yanadi

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

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.

But now

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

to collect

my dried

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.


Monday, March 12th, 2012


The seed, dying,

promised the crop


The little flower, withering,

promised the fruit, with a smile,


The forest, burning,

promised the conflagration


The sunset, shaking hands,

promised the sunrise


Immortality is beautiful.


Embracing time, it

promised a new world.


My translation of the Telugu poem 'amaratvam' by K.G. Satyamurthy ('Sivasagar'), from his collection of poetry 'Sivasagar Kavitvam'.   

Dalita Naaniis

Saturday, March 10th, 2012


is an experiment

to see if a state would grow

when you sow blood



I've always kept

my heart's doors open

for Dalits

among Brahmins




sounded like an atomic explosion:

why wouldn't

the Buddha smile?



Under the tree

beside the road, near the ghat

god's everywhere

except in the heart




is not a rakshasa

He's a lover

who kisses ten times at once




are a little lucky

there's no Drona

in Ambedkar's story


My translation of some of Netala Pratap Kumar's Telugu naaniis from his collection of poetry 'daLita naaniilu'. 

Naaniis are a new form of short poems, somewhat like haikus, that Telugu poets have been experimenting  with in the last two decades or so. 

Dr Kathi Padma Rao, talking about Pratap Kumar's naaniis, says:

Buddhism is the philosophical foundation of 'daLita naaniis'. Ambedkar vaadam (Ambedkarvad) is its sociology. The idiom is of the Dalit wadas. The expression stems from struggles and conflicts that are a part of life. Reading these aphorisms is like listening to my father, or my uncle, or my grandfather. 

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