If I was a tree
The bird wouldn’t ask me
Before it built its nest
What caste I am.
When sunlight embraced me
My shadow wouldn’t feel defiled.
My friendship with the cool breeze and the leaves
Would be sweet.
Raindrops wouldn’t turn back
Take me for a dog-eater.
When I branch out further from my roots
Mother Earth wouldn’t flee shouting for a bath.
The sacred cow would scrape her body on my bark,
Scratching wherever it itched
And the three thousand Gods sheltering inside her
Would touch me.
At the end,
Hacked into pieces of dry wood,
Burning in the holy fire,
I might be made pure, or becoming the bier for a sinless body
Be borne on the shoulders of four good men.
If I was a tree is a poem by Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy. He is a Kannada poet, writer and playwright. His first poetry book “Kondigalu mattu mullubeligalu” (Links and Barbed wire) published in 1989 was attributed with reviving Kannada Dalitha-Bandaya poetry. His writings forces caste into the literary landscape, infusing it with the often-missing truth about Indian society.
M. Chinnaswamy’s day job is that of Chief Accounts Officer cum Financial Advisor at Bengalaru Metropolitan Transport Corporation. He has published several books, writes and directs plays, and conducts workshops on poetry. His past poetry reading venues include; Los Angles, Granada, Merida, Caracus, Tel Aviv etc. His translated poetry has appeared in English and Spanish journals, including the literary journal Arquitrave and a selection of his poems has been published by the Cultural dept of Venezuela Govt in ‘World Poetry Series’. His poetry has been translated into several Indian languages, including Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Malayalam and Urdu. Several of his poems are prescribed reading in high school, colleges as well as in University courses by Govt of Karnataka.
Starting today, The Shared Mirror will feature a selection of his poems; their translation has been rendered by Prof Rowena Hill.
Tags: Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy