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Posts Tagged ‘J.Gautam’

Away from me…

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

The pregnant full moon

giving birth to moonlight

weaves a garland of jasmines

around my dark Malapalli*


Soft light

through the Rellu+ grass

flashes honed smiles

that pound my heart


The wild flowers by the stream,

dewdrops, like little bells around ankles,

touch my feet and beam


The sweat that silently drops

from the furrows of my forehead

becomes ears of rice

that bow and salaam me with humility



He, still adjusting his janeu, is edging,

towards the borders of the hill,

away from me…


My translation of the Telugu poem 'naaku duurangaa..'  by J.Gautam ( from his collection of poetry 'nalu dikkulanunchii ranDi' ).


* Malapalli : the Mala quarter of a village.

+ Rellu: kind of reed, saccharum spontaneum, used for thatching and as fodder ( J.P.L.Gwynn's Telugu-English dictionary).

The conspiracy against the pointer finger

Friday, October 29th, 2010

In the beginning, they came to the banks of the Sindhu for livelihood

With deceit, they drove out the Moolvasis who welcomed them


Next, with a sense of defeat, they infiltrated Buddhism

With treachery, they uprooted its foundation of equality


They penetrated Jainism, Shaivism as spies

and upheld the Manuwad of penal codes as the universal truth


In the guise of avatars they suppressed all Shudra emperors

With an axe they decimated all dynasties and seized control


Where they lost, they waited as ministers..where they won

they became prophets..and lords of Agraharas


Frightenened by British cannons, they ushered them inside

Brought down those who resisted with bullets

And sent the heroes to the gallows


When the time was right they called for a struggle..for freedom

Through the scheme of transfer of power they became the rulers..

and also the opposition

Sporting a red rose, they spread a red carpet

for capital

They penetrated Marx's beard and Lenin's button

and called themselves the left


If they approved, it was progress, and casteism if they disagreed

Russia's the weapon they said, China's empowered they said

The mind's Mao's, they said, and the patent is ours, they said

They turned specific realities unspecific

and became loudmouthed Gireeshams*.

* * * * * * *

The Vanara army has been wagging its tails..from then till now

If not, as feathers on tails..then as flies on feathers,

According to the only history of all the Mahaprasthanam** of progress


The history of speaking the truth and getting heads chopped is ours

Let us step into the cage+

By the people..for the people..that's the rulers' assertion

People are the builders of history….that's the revolutionary rulers'  statement

Who are the people? Where is people's history?

We have a glorious history of braving ostracisms

Let us step into the cage

Only the heirs of the bloodthirsty Parasurama clan

Became the leaders of the peace talks++

Only the middlemen of Hindu imperialism are talking about autonomy

The talk of land distribution here is a conspiracy..

The Brahmanyam hiding behind land is a conspiracy


History's a conspiracy..the progress of history's a conspiracy

The media's a conspiracy.. progressive intellectuals are a conspiracy

The parliamentary democracy guarding

the four-hooded Hindu caste serpent is a mammoth conspiracy


Our courage

is of those who were pushed into the list of traitors by back-stabbers

Let us step into the cage;

All through history, there's been a conspiracy against the Moolvasis

A conspiracy against the Sun of Mahajana revolution's pointer finger+++

A conspiracy against the fragrance of social democracy.


My translation of J.Gautam's Telugu poem 'chuupuDu wElupai kuTra' (from his collection of poetry 'nalu dikkula nuncii ranDi').


* Gireesham: pronounced 'giriiSam'; a character from the satrical epic play 'kanyASulkamu' written by Gurajada Apparao, a social reformer and writer-poet (in Telugu and English), in 1892. Gireersham is a smooth talking trickster who poses as a progressive thinker fighting for the freedom of 'nautch girls' and widow remarriage. Gurujada pioneered the movement for democratizing literary language by celebrating dialects of the masses and broke the hold of Sanskrit on written Telugu. A humanist, Gurujada in one of his popular songs pointed out: 'a nation is not land (or soil), a nation is people'.  Gurujada's work can be viewed as a perceptive commentary on the social reform and nationalist movements of the late nineteenth century; and Gireesham as an early representaive of Macaulay's savarna 'interpreters'?

** Mahaprasthanam: or 'mahAprasthAnam'; a poem, and an anthology, written by Marxist poet Srirangam Srinivasa Rao (popularly known as 'Sri Sri') in which he echoed the Marxian view that all history was the history of class struggles.

+ cage: the Telugu word used in the poem is 'bOnu', which also refers to the witness box in a court of law.

++ peace talks: probably refers to the peace talks between the Government of Andhra Pradesh and the Maoists (formerly 'People's War Group') held in 2004.

+++ pointer finger: the Telugu word used in the original poem is 'cuupuDu wElu' ('the finger that points', roughly). So I thought,  'pointer finger' was a better choice than 'forefinger' or 'index finger'.

The Day of the Dandora*

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010


Mid-day heat

Black heartbeats

on sweating tarred roads.


Jatara Jatara**

of the body cells

for the beat.




Roar..the lion's roar

Step..the tiger's step.


The sky trembled

and the ground shook

when the whole jaati

danced the chindu***.


Only the Madiga dappu

is the guide for movement.


My translation of J.Gautam's Telugu poem 'danDOra rOju' (from his collection of poetry 'nalu dikkula nuncii ranDi').


* Dandora: danDOra means proclamation. It refers to the custom of proclamations or announcements etc the Madigas would make by calling attention of the villagers through their dappu (drum) beats. Also refers to the Madiga Dandora assertion movement.

** Jatara: pronounced jaatara, is Telugu for village or folk festival.

*** Chindu: C.P.Brown's Telugu-English dictionary calls it 'a dance, hop, jig'. Refers to a folk dance mostly performed by the Madigas.


Saturday, April 10th, 2010

We are the wounded of a thousand generations
and not those who ever gave up arms

We are the veteran soldiers of a thousand defeats
and not those who ever surrendered

We are the sacrificial lambs of a thousand betrayals
and not the cowards who ever strayed from the path

We are the hardened warriors
who survived amid a thousand penal codes

Ours are the thousand and one springs
among the thousand winters

We're adivasis

We're women

We're dalits

We're blacks

-My translation of  the Telugu poem 'mEm' (from the collection 'naludikkula nunchee ranDi') by Dalitbahujan poet and activist J. Gautam.

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