பல வருடங்களுக்கு முன்பாக எஸ்.ராமகிருஷ்ணன் அவர்கள் MUSE INDIA இணைய இதழுக்கு மொழிபெயர்த்த கவிதைகள் இவை.
Credit: UNESCO Courier
Poems translated from Tamil by Ramakrishnan S
The Words of Fish
I commence my vision. There onwards river starts flowing. Same way the river concludes. As this river lives on, I sit on its bank. For, it is but here I get the reason (or opportunity) to lose my own being. When I hear its whirl and swirl, my legs reach the pebbles. At the moment when my fingers touch those stones that are softer, my eyes start seeing the fish. The lip-movements of the fish, the eyes don’t fail to see. But, my ears claim that the fish are conversing among themselves. I started believing that their words are meaningful. My heart began to construct meanings for the words of the fish. When I was about to start a dialogue with the fish, the misfortune befell. Just the way you think, darkness set in. Sound ceased to be. And, following suit, pebbles rolled away. The river also disappeared. As I cannot turn into ‘nought,’ I have arrived at this town. And, I try to communicate to those who come along the way, the words of fish. But, they enquire, “Why do your lips quiver like those of the fish?” Where I abhor the belief that I have in me, thereon the bubbles start breaking all the more. Even if they call the one who keeps wandering all over the city, uttering aloud to himself, a madcap, I don’t mind. From there alone start the incomprehensible words of the fish.
The glow of initial dawn fills me with misery. The cries of crows fill the place with sorrow. Some faces come across along the road. The sight proves terribly repulsive. Plants stand there, dry and shrunken. The flowers are bereft of their usual fragrance. The dogs are not barking but weep profusely. Their moan reminds me of the corpses. The shades of the coconut-tree break and crack the road. Somehow, I have gone past this monstrous noon, so maimed. The sunset that I love most fails to please me. I’ll compare this day to a crumpled piece of paper and crushed into a ball and thrown at one corner of the room. The next day I slowly spread it and see. A desert boils, like my shrunken heart. Its breath leaves through my nostrils.
Bodhi: The Tree of Enlightenment
Voyaging a great distance I have come. Quietly, a tree appeared in front. Its leaves fluttered. An old man was approaching it. He was stark-naked. His body looked haggard; his skin, all dry; his eyes, so sunken. He sat under the tree, motionless. He was turning into a sculpture. I went near him. “Is it Bodhi?’ I asked. “No,” said a voice from nowhere. “Aren’t you the Buddha?’ I enquired. “No,” replied a voice. “Is this a dream?” asked I. He smiled. “See intently,” said a voice. I closed my eyes. Looked deep within. Opened my eyelids. Just a tree stood there. And, the old man alone.
The adjacent tenement is locked. The grand-daughter knocks at the door. Her grand-mother is sitting in front of God in the wide-opened room, pleading. The child knocks at the door repeatedly, her hand increasing the pressure. That disturbs the grandma. “No one is there, don’t knock at the door,” she tells. The child keeps on knocking at the door. Grandma, knocks at God’s door louder and louder, with words. The child knocks at God’s door, with hand. Grandma’s words, despite herself, turn harsh. When the sound of the child’s knocking at the door begins to destroy her harshness, she turns quiet. The child’s hand comes to rest. The God behind the word and the God behind the door remain quiet. Unknown to them, two doors begin to swing.
The child knows not the name of this illustration. It holds the sheet of paper and looks on. The sky is empty. A bird is flying there. As this is paper this is not sky and so also as this is an illustration this is not a bird – so you can refute. The child which keeps watching the bird flying, with a smile turns the page upside down, at a moment when we least expect it. Indeed, you know very well the difference between paper and sky. So is the difference between a ‘live’ bird and a ‘live’ picture. Yet, in an empty sheet of paper the bird keeps flying upside down. Or, in the vacant sky the illustration of a bird keeps flying upside down. Paper or Sky or Bird or Picture – all keep seeing the child’s ‘topsy-turvy’ face. Also, they know not what the child’s name is.
The street looks deserted; may be because it is night. Also, it could be because the time is nearing midnight. Yet, even in the chill, snowy night roads branch out from one another and are forever growing. The ‘gurkha’ keeps a strict vigil, thus preventing anyone stealing the city. He blows his whistle, cautioning the thief. For a moment the roads and houses blink, opening and closing their eyes. The ill-fated sound of the whistle is indeed fear-instilling. When a ‘gurkha’ taps on the floor with his stick as if beating our very hearts we might even be tempted to kill him. I cross the roads, go past the houses. From a house a child screams. Its cry goes streaming down, all over the road and floods the city. As the cry intensifies, something happens inside me. I listen to the child’s cry, holding it in my heart. The roads and the houses remain fast asleep. For a moment, the peacock called, and flew off.
I hate the winter season which gifts me ailments. Snow that hides the Sun stands on the meadow. That reminds of someone’s spit. Could be someone’s tears. Whether I like it or not, it gains entry into my body. White hue melts in my blood and flows. The words that I utter are frozen as the very snow. In their meanings phlegm stands, densely stuck. You may also hate those words with so unbearable a stench. You who love the soft beauty of snow develop a dislike for the phlegm that collects in my body. Please don’t feel upset about the saliva that I spit in front of you. Let it insult the winter. It can be my gift to Mother Earth. One day, in winter it rains. Hating the prospect of getting wet you would be running. Then, from above phlegm would keep pouring down - so it would seem to me. When I hail and worship it, the clouds would move away and the Sun would surface. I would hail and worship that too. When you begin to dislike the Sun, you would earn some ailment. From my person, heat would begin to blow. You would start disliking me. I would give away my ailment as a gift to Summer which you loathe.
I don’t like this city at all. Its people, like its streets, lanes and by-lanes, are too narrow. In the broad roads of these city-bred, dust is deeply engraved just like their own selves. Though I believe in none, this city with its vast stretch of despair and distrust has orphaned me. Of course, I believe in myself. I believe in my shadow too. Then, escaping the ‘web of day’ that it casts, I’ll wander like a gypsy. Not getting entrapped in any joint of the ‘web of night,’ I would’ve fallen asleep in some corner of the road. So thoroughly foul and venomous the city is. Nothing but nightmares it has gifted me. In my dream the city turns into a snake-hill. At dawn, when I woke up, I did see the charmer’s flute – ‘magudi’ in motion upon the city. It gives out music. Then, in one sweep, all doors of the city are thrown open. Snakes begin to move out and start creeping along the streets.
I Feel Hungry
I feel hungry. This is something common to all. There lives on that tree a fruit which could relieve me of my hunger. An arrow would do to bring it down. Or, my body would do. I believed in my body. That began to climb on the tree. But, this small tree keeps on growing taller and taller. And, I grow older and older. I should be relieved of my hunger. I need that fruit. Though my legs could hold fast to the tree the hands are not able to pluck the fruit. In the ‘nest of arrows’ on my back, some arrows keep staring at the space. As I am growing old, I alight from the tree. Fixed the arrow firmly in the bow; aimed. My eyes hit at the fruit. Following my ‘sight’ flew the arrows. The fruit fell on the ground. A lone arrow alone brings it down. I plucked off that arrow from the fruit. Squeezed it into the ‘nest of arrows.’ Eating the fruit I got relieved of my hunger. The arrows which didn’t win over the fruit, were flying. They have now gone beyond the branch, leaf and the ‘power of gravitation.’ May be they are also feeling hungry.
Atop my head, right in the middle, no spider dwells. Of late, the crow approaching my head habitually pecks it all too suddenly and flies away. They call these crows our dead ancestors. Wonder what have I done, to which of the dead ones? Also, as it is deemed a sin to stone the dead ones, the crow keeps escaping unhurt. Moreover, crow’s pecking implies one’s being possessed by Saturn – they claim. Saturn taking possession of me or not, I should at least inform the crow that I don’t possess a spider. In case that proves impossible, I should at least sever my head and give it off to the crow. But, as I possess just one head, even this is not possible. Further, doubts regarding the crow’s peck keep spreading numerous webs within. The crow doesn’t get entrapped in any of these. In case I get a spider, indeed I should hand it over to the crow. For the time being I keep on chasing away the crow. And, it persists in its pecking. After sunset stepping in, the crow disappears. Yet, seeing this night shining in the colour of crow, I feel a little apprehensive. And, I can’t help feeling my head every now and then.