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The village is ours!

November 8th, 2010 by naren bedide

The village is ours! This wada* is ours!

The village is ours! Every job needs us!

The hammer is ours! The knife is ours,

The crowbar is ours! The hoe is ours,

The cart is ours! The bullocks are ours!

Why do we need the Dora**! Why do we need his tyranny over us,

why do we need the Dora! Why do we need his tyranny?              // The village is ours //


We yoke the plough! We plough the land,

It's us at this fence! It's us at that mance***,

It's us at the cowshed! It's us with the cattle too,

It's us cleaning the latrines! It's us shaving the beards too,

What's this plunder? What's this Dora's deceit with us,

what's this plunder! What 's this Dora's deceit?                                   // The village is ours //


It's us in the fields! It's us who perform Vetti+,

It's us at this planting! It's us at that baling well too,

It's us at the reaping! It's us at the loading too,

Why do we need this Dora? What's this Dora's zulm on us?

Why do we need this Dora? What's this Dora's zulm?                        // The village is ours //


We wield the guns! We shoulder the burdens,

It's us at the dhobi ghat! It's us unloading the saare++,

It's us at the graveyard! It's us playing the shehnai too,

Why do we need this Dora! Why do we need his authority over us?

Why do we need this Dora! Why do we need this authority…            // The village is ours //


Standing on the bund, like a big tree,

Why does the Dora curse everyone, beat them,

from mothers to wives!

What's this plunder! What's this Dora's arrogance?                            // The village is ours //


We're the labouring poor! We should live together

Under the Sangham people's banner! We should form a union,

We should break the bones of the Doras who loot us!                      // The village is ours //


My translation of Guda Anjaiah's Telugu song 'uuru manadiraa!' (from his collection of songs/ballads of the same name), first written in 1972. The Marxist poet Srirangam Srinivasa Rao ( 'Sri Sri') called 'uuru manadiraa' a 'siren call'. Gaddar describes it as the song that sounded the 'battle conch'.


* wada: (pronounced 'waaDa') locality, neighbourhood, quarter in a village/town.

** Dora: (pronounced 'dora') feudal landlord. Also a term used, traditionally, to address any member of the landowning upper caste communities; chiefly, the Velamas, Reddies and Brahmins in Telangana.

*** mance: (pronounced 'mance'), a machan-like raised platform, usually in the middle of a field, used as a kind of watch tower.

+ Vetti: (pronounced 'weTTi'), a form of bonded labour. Traditionally, labour/services rendered to a landlord (menial work in his household and fields), usually the headman, or a temple in exchange for certain 'privileges'.

++saare: 'presents from the bride's parents to the bridegroom's family and neighbours, brought by the bride when she goes to the bridegroom's house for the first time' (Gwynn's Telugu-English dictionary). 


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