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September 30th, 2010 by naren bedide

You cut our tongues

and poured lead in our ears?

It is we who gave letters to your tongues

and sounds to your ears–

we're both sarkari servants,

why this unusual grudge towards me?

Did we demand

your agrahaaras and antahpurams*?

Thinking our brains are in our knees

you dispatch a new memo every day,

but every memo shall turn into a new dawn

that will shine like eej**, expanding our wisdom.

If you don't stop your flood of memos

we'll hunt with our barchis***,

you are of the clan of beggars

we'll catch you by your pilaka+

and drag you to our thanda++,

gather our chiefs

and hold a nasaab+++.


My translation of Vadthya Panthulu Nayak's Telugu poem 'nasaab' (from his collection of poetry 'nasab').


* antahpuram: here, it means mansion, palace (in Telugu).

**eej: lightning, in the language of the Lambadas/Lambadis/Banjaras/Brinjaris.

***barchi: weapon used by the Lambadas for hunting.

+pilaka: tuft of hair at back of head, usually worn by Brahmins (in Telugu).

++thanda: lambada village/hamlet.

+++nasaab: panchayat presided over by Lambada elders, or Nayaks (in the language of the Lambadas).


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