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I am the Yanadi

March 25th, 2012 by naren bedide

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.


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