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Posts Tagged ‘Sivasagar’


Monday, March 12th, 2012


The seed, dying,

promised the crop


The little flower, withering,

promised the fruit, with a smile,


The forest, burning,

promised the conflagration


The sunset, shaking hands,

promised the sunrise


Immortality is beautiful.


Embracing time, it

promised a new world.


My translation of the Telugu poem 'amaratvam' by K.G. Satyamurthy ('Sivasagar'), from his collection of poetry 'Sivasagar Kavitvam'.   

War Moon

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Hanging from the neck of the sky's skeleton

The war moon

He has nuclear bombs all over his body

The fangs of butcherliness in his eyes

Sitting as a judge

On the giant skeleton of the Pentagon

He passes the death sentence on some nations

He doesn't know of the full moon.

Amavasya is all that's there!


My translation of the Telugu poem 'yuddha chandruDu' by Sivasagar (K.G.Satyamurthy), from the collection of poetry 'kavita 2008' published by Sahiti Mitrulu. The poet says he was inspired by Janet Aalfs' 'War Moon'.

Son! Yesoba!

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

What can I say Sir!

My son Yesobu

died in the war

my son who could conquer Neerukonda*

lies sacrificed on a slab of ice.

He left with a smile

and has returned as a corpse

smiling, he calls 'nAnna'*

he went on foot and has returned a bridegroom

a flowering plant has returned as a fallen banyan

he has returned.

What can I say? and how?

people turn up here as at a fair

in throngs and throngs,

addressing them, speaking of

my son's 'sacrifices, patriotism'

you, Sarpanch babu! Sir!

When he stopped

people washing their animals

in the tank

didn't you, with a whip

lash my son's chest

mark him with stains?

In the cinema outside our village

for buying a big ticket*

and sitting alongside you

didn't you scheme

to cut his hands legs?

Was it your daughter who looked at him

or he who looked at her

I do not know but-

to kill lionlike Yesobu

you wove the noose,

how can we forget this history!

We know all this

does the rain wash away the wounds, Sir!

On the untouchable's eyelids

these truths stand erect

like crowbars driven into our hearts.

Mothers! Sirs!

My son's death:

this isn't the first,

many times in our village

he died and lived

to live he joined the army

as a corpse, he has returned alive.


my mind's not in my mind

my mind's not in my mind

Sir! In my eyes

the pyre dances

son! Yesoba! Yesoba!

Yesoba! My father!

For you

I'll weep like Karamchedu*

for you

I'll weep like Chunduru*

for you

I'll weep like Vempenta*

I'll weep like yesterday's Gosayipalem*!

Father! As a teardrop big as the sky

I'll pour like a storm for you!

Elders! Lords!


I wish to curse you

a basketful of curses

I wish to drive a basketful of wild ants

to bite you all over,

to see my son's corpse, arriving

like armies of ants

and disappearing like swarms of locusts,

you patriots!

Wait a second

if you're made of pus and blood, shame and honour

if your liver hasn't melted yet

answer this untouchable's questions:

not my son

you've come to visit his corpse

do you agree?!

My son dead is a veera jawan

alive he's a Mala* jawan

What do you say?

Answer me!

Swear on your Manu

as a pigeon and a snake

can't be linked

your upper caste pride

can't go with patriotism.

Elders! Lords!

Listen! Listen to the untouchable word:

between the village and the wada*

there's a Kargil,

from grandfathers' forefathers' age,

burning between us

this Kargil war

hasn't stopped, it goes on.

Son! Yesoba!

On the third day

if you can't return

find the time

to return some day

and wipe my tears! Father!


-My translation of K.G.Satyamurthy's ('Sivasagar') Telugu poem kodukA! yEsobA!, written in 1999 (from his collection of poetry: 'Sivasagar Kavitvam').

*neerukonDa, kAramcheDu, chunDuuru, vEmpenTa, gOsaayipaalem are all villages where incidents of organized violence against Dalits occurred. The word 'konDa' (in Neerukonda) means 'hill'.

*nAnna: father.

*Mala: a large Dalit sub-caste in South India, mainly found in Andhra Pradesh.

*big ticket: refers to a class of seating in village cinemas where patrons sit in chairs, unlike the other major class where everyone sits on the floor.

*wADa: short for Dalitawada, or Dalit hamlet/quarter in a village.

The Sun

Friday, April 9th, 2010

The Sun's a weaver
with rays as threads
sky as the loom
he weaves the rainbow

The Sun's a hunter
with rays as arrows
the sky his forest
he hunts down cheetahs of darkness

The Sun's a lover
in the first light of millions of rays
he descends from the sky
and loves earth's silent eyes, deeply.

My translation of Sooryudu, a Telugu poem by Dalit poet K.G.Satyamurthy ( 'Sivasagar'). Source: his collection, Sivasagar Kavitvam (1968-2002).

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