From the last step…
by Raamaa Chandramouli
(Translated by indira babbellapati)
Hey, look from here, standing on this
last step; the wind that carried the
vibrating notes that sprang forth
from the ashes of last night’s mushaira
A sorrowing streak eternally flows beside–
a river in a silent flow. Yes, tell me,
does life flow in the body with any hum?
The waves struggle to capture the feet
negotiating the stairs upward; there
echoes a haunting melody of destitution.
When the ghazal singer offered each of
her lines as the chips to the holy sacrifice,
the letters like drops of fire came
floating in the air; larks hovering
on the surface of the sea. how long
can the earth retain a seed in its womb?
How long can fire be held on the fist?
Germination or burning is inevitable.
Time lapses into the wee hours…
Dopiness of music; all intoxicating!
A chain of diamonds abruptly snaps;
anon, the wicks in the lamp burn sweet
enough to reduce one into a zilch.
The body remains, the slumbering soul
flees; the agitated wings of birds shake
the inner world of the forest. One becomes
a zero while another turns into a numeral;
what if a numeral is placed before the zero?
What if a zero is placed after the numeral?
Values are proportionate inversions.
A woodpecker somewhere pecks at a palm
pek…pek…pek, it goes; don’t know where
the cavity is made!
Last night while going to the soiree,
in those dark shadows at the turn of
the street a street dog smelt the blotch
in him and began to bark…phat broke
the violin string! Repentance is always
a broken piece of porcelain; the pieces
can’t be reassembled and glued.
We need to melt all that that can’t be attached.
Whole life is geared towards self-preservation
two hands guarding the wick…and in front
is placed an empty container…
Just waiting for it to be filled.
Red stains of spat out paan
on the soiled walls. Spittle-song
from the last night’s mushaira
was left oozing tears.
Even before the dawn, someone’s
found offering a jal-aarti
holding a plate of brass in hands–
burning red flame.
The sky’s set ablaze…
by maruvam usha
(Translated by indira babbellapati)
On a summer night
i dreamt a sweet dream:
purple clouds had clung to
my multi-hued bed and hid
the light secretly forcing me
into an illusion that it’s yet
time for the day-break while
someone in the courtyard of
the ‘vana devata’ performed
a trick; the clouds were melted
and were gathered in a receptacle.
The invisible hand threw the liquified
clouds on to the earth– beads of
black pearls slid down in a continuum
folding them within the verdant leaves.
The leafy-rain morphed them into
rain drops as the leaves fallen to the earth
swayed with the wind and drenched
themselves in the shower of pearls.
I drew in warm breath all set to run…
“There, there, there runs the Child of Day!”
heartily laughed Time.
Indira Babbellapati, a faculty in the department of Humanities and Social Sciences is a widely published poet and translator. Her original poetry anthologies include affaire de coeur, Vignettes of the Sea, echo, From the Biography of an Unknown Woman, and Nomadic Nights. She translated all genres of literature except drama. Night of Nectar for the Sahitya Akademi, Asampoorna, the Incomplete, Into a Crowded Aloneness, both written originally in Telugu by Raamaa Chandramouli are some of the translated poetry anthologies. Her Own Way, a book of Akademi award winning short stories translated into English is under publication with the Sahitya Akademi. Gender Game and Other Stories, The Dusk, a novel in translation besides a few short stories have been published by the Translation Bureau of Dravidian University, Kuppam. Indira also co-authored English text books for Engineerin undergraduates.Prof Indira Babbellapati’s English poetry has been translated into Bangla, Spanish, and French. She made her presence felt at many national and international poetry meets.