Tuesday, 30 June 2015

[Poem] The Sparrow at my window

There is a baby sparrow at my window,
With a pink beak
And coal black dots for eyes
He twists and turns his head so
And twitters in a voice low
His tiny feathers all unkempt.
I leave him grain and water on the window sill
But he wanders off with a final trill
Perhaps it's bedtime in sparrow land...

Monday, 29 June 2015

[Book Review] The Dove's Lament by Kirthi Jayakumar

 


When I first heard the title The Dove’s Lament I was intrigued. My mind envisioned all the possible associations with the word dove. Was it a book about the oppressed, the meek or was it about a mute witness. ‘What was the reason for the lament?' I asked myself. Then I happened to see the unique design on the cover of the book and was even more curious. (I later learnt that it was the handiwork of the multitalented author herself)

I secured for myself a copy and when I read her foreword I was thoroughly floored. The foreword built up in me a great curiosity that was validated in story after story. The 148 page book is a unique experiment as it combines stories with an essay that gives a time, a locus and an ethos to each story – the story and the essay together interlock the theme discussed and it gives credence and ensures that the events described stay with us for a very long time.

While I was reading it, I was struck by how the book is a work of fiction, history and journalism all rolled into one. With her astute grip on politics and world affairs, The Dove’s Lament is a wonderful read and the writer presents the human angle to mankind's suffering.

Her language is powerful and forceful and her choice of words is amazing.

The impact of a book largely depends on the way, we, the readers experience the events in the book and Kirthi succeeds in this enterprise through the characters that she has created and the powerful narration that makes us participants in a 'lived' experience. She combines effective journalism with traditional empathetic and compelling storytelling.


Kirthi has also adopted a unique storytelling style in the book. The stories do not reveal everything in one go – it feels more like a quest where the writer teases your imagination, tweaks your curiosity by revealing clues bit by bit and you stay glued to the writing eager to piece together all the clues and then read on, just to derive the satisfaction of knowing whether your guesses were right.

The Dove’s Lament is an incredible exploration of the psyche, the mindscape of people encountering extreme trauma. While I liked all the stories- the seventh story Desiccated Land is my favourite for its pace in the narration.

If I were to pinpoint the negatives in the book- I would perhaps touch upon the length of the stories. They seem a bit short and since the narration is particularly interesting, one feels cheated when the stories end too soon. The stories also focus on very few characters and the exchanges between them are almost minimal. Sometimes the essays tend to veer towards a textbook style. But this does not take away the impact of the book or the sincerity and sensitivity of the writer.

The Dove’s Lament promises the reader a world tour that you can take sitting in your arm chair – and you can travel on the wings of the dove to nations far away - nations ravaged by war and the powerful writing grips you and you stay afloat and it takes an enormous effort to realize that you are actually reading a book.

The Dove's Lament is published by Readomania and is available on Flipkart and Amazon. Do grab your copy today!

http://www.amazon.in/The-Doves-Lament-Kirthi-Jayakumar/dp/8192997561/ref=pd_sim_sbs_14_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=0Q020X676JEPH5NH3Y7E

Monday, 22 June 2015

[Translation] Theeradha Vilaiyattu Pillai - The Eternal Prankster

 In this poem Kannan's female play mates narrate their woes about the way they are mistreated by this eternal prankster. It is more prosodic then any of the other poems of Bharathiyaar that I have translated. It adopts a conversational tone and is a litany of feigned lament.


Original:

Theeradha vilaiyatu pillai- Kannan,
Theruvile pengalukku oyatha thollai!

Thinna pazham kondu tharuvan-padhi
Thingindra pothile thatti parippan,
Yennappan, yennayyan endral athanai,
Echil paduthi, kadithu koduppan.

Theanotha pandangal kondu –enna,
Seidhalum ettadha uyarathil vaippan,
Maanotha pennadi enban-satru,
Manam maghizhum nerathile killi viduvan.

Azhagulla malar kondu vande –ennai, 
Azha azha seithu pin, kannai moodi kol,
Kuzhalile suttuven, enbaan, ennai,
Kurudaaki malarinai thozhikku vaipan.

Pinnalai pinnindru izhuppan-thalai,
Pinne thirumbum munne sendru maraivan,
Vanna puthu selai thanile –puzhuthi,
Vaari sorindhe varuthi kulaippan.

Pullanguzhal kondu varuvan-amudhu,
Pongi thathumbum nal geetham padippan,
Kallal mayanguvathu pole - adai,
Kan moodi vay thirandhe kettiruppom.

Agandirukkum vaay thanile-kannan,
Aru ezhu katterumbai pottu viduvan,
Yengagilum paarthadundo, Kannan,
Yengalai seigindra vedikkai andro.

Vilaiyaada vaa vendrazhaipaan-veetil,
Velai endral athai kelathirupaan,
Ilayorodu adi kuthippan-emmai,
Idayir pirindhu poi veetil solvaan.

Ammaikku nallavan kandeer, mool,
Athaikku nallavan, thandaikkum akthe,
Yemmai thuyar seiyum, periyor veetil,
Yavarkum nallvan pole nadappan.

Kozhukku migavum samarthan –poymmai,
Soothiram pazhi solla koosa chazhakkan,
Alukisainthapadi pesi theruvil,
Athanai pengalayum aagaathadippan.

(Lyrics Courtesy: http://translationsofsomesongsofcarnticmusic.blogspot.com/2010/04/theeratha-vilayattu-pillai.html)

Translation:

Kannan is the eternal prankster,
on the streets, damsels face constant dis-order.

He would bring us fruits to eat
but grab it midway - that cheat!
And when we all begin to plead,
 he would spit it and bite it, in deceit.

He would bring me honeyed sweetmeats
but keep them beyond reach, ignoring pleas
 'You are as nimble as a doe my dear!' he would say,
 And when I am lost in this praise, he would pinch away...

He would tempt me with beauteous flowers,
and make me cry and plead for hours,
then bid me to close my eyes and wait,
and coolly pin them onto a friend's plait!

He would tug at my plaits from behind,
and before I can turn, would run and hide;
 On colourful new garments he would spray,
dirt and cause immense disarray.

Armed with his flute, come, he would,
and make heavenly music with that piece of wood,
like one, inebriated with liquor,
we listen - eyes closed, mouth open, in stupor!

Into the open jaws of those fast asleep,
Kannan would drop giant ants deep!
Have you ever witnessed elsewhere
such actions by any other prankster?

He would bid, 'Come play with me!'
If we protest, he wouldn't pay heed,
Drag us along, then choose to play with youngsters
Then disappear midway to complain against us...

My mother calls him a good child- so does
my aunt, so does my father;
subjecting us to his dastardly act(s),
at home, he humbly follows elders' diktat.

He is well versed in the art of carrying tales,
in fibbing, cheating and insinuating!
The slick tongued knave incites commotion,
and draws us asunder with all his instigation!


This song is enacted expressively by Kamala Lakshman in this video clip:

Saturday, 20 June 2015

[Poem] To Appa- My Mentor

This poem is a tribute to my father Ramanadhapuram Seshadri Shivakumar. He has been the guiding light in my life and is as encouraging today as he was in my childhood.


In the morning's light,
as you held my hand and walked tall-
I tried so hard to match your tread and walk straight-

And when we did sums in mental Maths
You winced, bit your lips and smiled...
I echoed your smile in oblivion.
When you freed your hand momentarily to greet passerby -
I greeted them too
Just to be like you...

Riding your shoulders, I have touched the Sun
and found learning at your feet was fun...
You nurtured my love for languages;
You painstakingly typed out my first scribblings
and shared with everyone those silly rhymes...

You were always there,
in my hour of need,
You are always there,
In thought and deed.

I never thought to thank you for my first published verse,
I never cared to thank you for all the times you were at my side,
For all the smiles and all the encouraging words that only You could say,
Every time I failed, you only said, 'Never mind, there's always time!'
but then,
Do we ever thank the air we breathe or the water that nurtures Life?

Even today, it is with you, that I share my verse first,
it is For you, I write my thoughts-
It is to you, I dedicate my little successes...

You sit calmly in your easy chair,
wearing your beatific smile
the ravages of an aging body touch not your face,
Your ears are still ready to hear,
and your feeble voice as encouraging as ever
And your trembling hand reaches out -- no, not for my help,
But
to give - again and again, the warmth of your benediction!