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  Vol III : issue 1

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Kadammanitta Ramakrishnan

Oil on canvas by MANJIT BAWA  

Has the bandicoot next door conked off?

Shouldn’t we too drop by, dear?

Did you give coffee and cash

To the guy who brought in the news?

Let’s forget family quarrels for a while

This is a time when folks gather

We too should spread a shroud

Carry tobacco to the dead

Shed some tears for all to see

Chewing betel leaf with the crowd

Join them in retelling virtues old.

Call him but a fortunate soul

Remember all his merits aloud.

After all, death does bind us closer,

Whatever the rift be while we live!

He barred our way with a barbed hedge

Hurled away all the boundary stones.

In between was a jackfruit tree

Stealthily he dug it up

When the tree fell, bereft of roots

He picked a fight over it.

Untied his buffalo and sent it in

To munch my many saplings

More such cruelties did he commit!

Our bunch of bananas was a sight to be seen

But his eyes turned ever so green

Never once did it occur to him

We were but his sister and her spouse.

Whoever came to see our girl

He would stop to count all her faults!

Our cow had just turned a mother

He conjured up spirits evil

Cooked them up in his magic pot

His big bronze urn burst, and so did

The entrails of our milch cow, dear.

Not such good memories of the dead

Nor is it the time to remember them.

For each of his devious ways

We did pay him many times over

If it were to score farting points

Would we hold our farts back?

The foretellers of stars unknown blamed

It all on the nasty neighbour’s star of birth

"One born on aayilyam

Will beget kids who are sick in the mind"

So goes, after all, the old saying.

Unfit it is to remember these now

But, memories keep remembering themselves!

Yet, the old man is now dead and gone

Let bygones be bygones, blood ties remain!

When people come over to mourn

We shouldn’t bring ourselves shame

Dear, do tell our children

Not to forget to put grain in his mouth

Wail a little, with your sister-in-law

What could we lose by it?

Till his pyre dies down

It would be fine to put up a proper show

 

Translated from the Malayalam 'Chaakkala' by Sanju Ramachandran with TLM

 

 

 
Kadammanitta Ramakrishnan is a noted left-wing poet who took Malayalam poetry
out of the ivory tower and to the masses. A former member of the State Legislature,
his honours include the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award