Poetry: U Atreya Sarma

U Atreya Sarma
Have a good day, sonny!

I had then rued I had no time
To bask in the refreshing sunrise
Or soak up the serene sundown.
For I would simply sleep into the home from work,
And wake up back into the office, the next morn.

***

But now I have time plenty to bid the sun
‘Good morning’ as well as ‘Good evening’.
Yet my restless errands in between are harried
By the pestilence of pestering beggars
At the squares, eateries, or temples.

The sunrise and the sunset
Though copiously available now
Aren’t cheering me up, I sense.
They look just jaded affairs of dreary
Mechanical moments and movements.

Seeking out solace I drive to a temple
Where I feel greeted with a ‘Good morning’
By the unwelcome beggars, old, scrawny,
Squatting outside with weak, imploring looks.

Tucking a few notes and coins
Out of the wallet into my pockets,
I leave my sandals out and wash my feet
Before stepping into the sacred precincts.
Circumambulating the sanctums,
I chime the bells and bow to the gods.

My wife pitches in suddenly
“We’ll go in for a special puja.”
So I have to pull out my wallet
And withdraw a few more notes.

The budgeted coins and notes
As well as the offerings in kind
Duly find their respective receptacles –
In the ticket counter, the altar,
The camphor platter, and the hundi.

But fazed is my focus on the deities or my wishes,
As the skinny miserable beggars
With their nuisance, loom large in my mind.
We nibble some prasadam and step out.

The two beggars still staying on there
Are feebly mumbling something.
And… involuntarily I ease my wallet out
And drop a handful of coppers
In their near-empty bowls.

***

Back in the car, my wife reminds me
Of my old but good enough wardrobe
Which has gone a-begging for a long time.

On reaching home I pick out the things,
And drive back to the temple
With the packages heavy
But with a lightened mind and heart.
Luckily, the two beggars are still around,
And I place the packets in their eager hands.

As I am driving back home,
The sun peeping through the glass
Seems to kiss me with his rays and say
‘A small deed at last! Have a good day, sonny!’

And everything I do later on in the day
Sails through smooth and soft, with no hitch.

As I sit in the balcony sipping my six pm coffee,
The receding orb of the ray-less sun casts a smile:
‘Hi, good evening! And bye my dear!’

***

“Hi, good morning, my dear cheering sun!
Thank you. How true your greetings turned yesterday!”

It’s no longer the badgering begging nuisance;
It’s the dawn of a humanitarian sense.


Bio: U Atreya Sarma
Interested in literature, U Atreya Sarma is into writing poetry, freelance editing, book-reviewing and translating. His poems and writings (articles, editorials, reviews, forewords, translations) mostly in English and a sprinkling in Telugu – have appeared in various print/online media and anthologies. A freelance editor with 18 years of experience, he is Chief Editor of the Muse India e-journal (www.museindia.com) since Nov 2016, having joined its team since Nov 2009; he was Editor (Fiction) up to Mar-Apr 2017 issue; he handled its News & Events column also up to Sep 2017; and continues to handle Reviews and Telugu Literature sections. His past editorship includes Bharatiya Pragna monthly and Cyberhood weekly.  He is the official critic of Metverse Muse, an international journal of metrical poetry from Visakhapatnam; and is on the Advisory Board of Teesta: An International Journal of Poetry.
As Contributing Editor (Telugu Literature), he has so far presented four exhaustive features on Telugu Literature in Muse India.
He composed in English the profiles of 132 modern Telugu Stalwarts for the bilingual book Marapuraani Maanikyaalu (2010) (with wordy & pictorial sketches in Telugu by BNIM, a noted writer & artist).
Atreya Sarma has edited nine books: (1) Celebrating Creativity: HLF 2010 (An anthology of poems/ short stories by 76 writers); (2) Souvenir: HLF 2010; (3) Lung Care and Long Life by Dr Shyam Sunder Raj (2012); (4) Memoirs & Musings of an IAS Officer by KV Natarajan, IAS (Retd) (Menaka Prakashan, 2013); (5) Turquoise Tulips (a collection of short stories) by the USA-based Dr Ashok Patwari (Authors Press 2015); (6) Prolegomena and Transformative Articles on Literary Translation by Dr VVB Rama Rao (Authors Press, 2015); (7) Femininity: Poetic Endeavours (Authors Press, 2016);  ‘Oka prasthaanam’ (ఒక ప్రస్థానం) (translated into Telugu by Varanasi Nagalakshmi of ‘A Journey’ a collection of poems rendered into English by Mantha Ravi from Narendra Modi’s Gujarati original) (awaiting publication). And a fictional autobiography by Gian Singh Shatir (in the pipeline).
Atreya Sarma has translated three books from Telugu into English. His translation of 16 Telugu short stories by a senior and prominent writer Dr Mallemala Venugopala Reddy under the title Salt of the Earth (2013) has been acclaimed by reviewers. As a panellist, he has translated into English 6 out of 36 chapters of Jnan Pith awardee Viswanatha Satyanarayana’s Telugu mega novel Veyipadagalu under the title Thousand Hoods, under the aegis of the Hyderabad based Viswanatha Sahitee Peetham (2015). His English translation of ‘Harisshva’ Dornadula Kesi’s unpublished Telugu manuscript as ‘The Mystery of the Eclipse Island’ (Vol. 1 of the multiple volume ‘Merciless Dark’) is awaiting publication.  Apart from this, he has translated many individual poems, short stories and articles from Telugu into English.
Atreya’s first collection of English poems, Sunny Rain-n-Snow, came out in May 2016.
Atreya Sarma has been, since 2013, featuring and encouraging poets through his weekly column ‘Wordsmith’ in The Hans India, a Hyderabad based English daily.
He has also guest-edited a Feature ‘India @ 70’ for the Aug 2017 issue of Setu magazine (http://www.segumag.com/p/setu-home.html).
He holds an MA (English Litt), a PG Dip (Mass Communications & Telugu Translation Techniques), a BA (English Litt, Sanskrit Litt, History) and BSc (Botany, Zoology, Chemistry), and CAIIB (Part I) with mid-level managerial experience in SBI.
He is a recipient of the “Setu Award for Excellence 2017” conferred by the Pittsburgh based Setu, a monthly bilingual online journal.
While his home base is Hyderabad, Atreya Sarma lives between Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

8 comments :

  1. Looking at things in a new light does make the difference.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you dear Hema for bringing out the nuanced way of perception.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Poignant poetry with glaring visual imagery. Enjoyable read, 'sonny' Atreya ji.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dawn of the humanitarian sense...this humane approach to a social dilemma we face is worth appreciation...begging is nuisance...beggars are not! Imagery and message both are commendable. Aalia Khan

    ReplyDelete

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