Voices Within: Sarala Ram Kamal

Sarala Ram Kamal  is a bilingual (English/Malayalam) poet/translator from Trivandrum. By profession she is a freelance graphic designer and also works as a DAISY Technology Trainer for the visually challenged. She has published a book of poems called “The Unfurling: Wordflies and other poems” and translated a book of short stories into Malayalam. Her poems have appeared in many national/international anthologies like The Indo-Australian anthology, The Scaling Heights etc. 

The Masks

Like a pack of cards scattered,
rolling on the street by wind,
they are moving around, drugged,
with kids on their hips, stolen
from their real mothers. The babies
stopped crying for their moms and
dads. Their tears dried and noses
leak. Maybe they too are drugged!
They are everywhere among the crowd,
in markets, junctions, temple gates …
A man with hanging legs being carried
to the market gate, placed on dirty rugs;
Stretching his hands out the whole day
he calls all - mother, father, sister, brother …
- but in vain. They take him back when
the market is empty. Clowns indeed, all
these, forced to wear the mask the whole
day, without or hiding the thought of self,
and in nights curl in the dark corners,
obviously travelling in oblivion,
some by the roadside, keeping the head on
heaps of waste, among rats and dogs.

We don’t see anymore, anything but see
only the possibility of making space for us
to move ahead in the crowd; don’t hear
anything but only that within our heads.
We are this world and use these clowns
for a tool to make money and shout
and preach whole day the philosophy
of staying in happiness and in peace,
wearing a mask to cover the hypocrisy.
Or are we (you and I) and they, each a different
world, unknown to each other but
destined to pass by every now and then?


She stands suspended up at some
Nowhere place, gathering herself,
Colourless, transparent.
He slits her asunder, into
Seven colours, (calls them
Different names,) then into
Another million in bet’n them.
Ah! It is true that everything
Has to come out of something,
Even if it is from nowhere.
Or, how come he makes a rainbow
Out of her nothingness!

Taste of Blue

A moonlit night I stared at
The sky through the finger-gaps that
Stretched towards my eyes, of long
Silhouette coconut fronds;
The blue tasted misty and soft.

A sunny day I searched your
Eyes, the oceans, skies and more,
Through the cracks of your words,
(like flat, fat and dull white birds);
The blue tasted salty and cold.

The blue with orange of kingfisher, or
The blue with green of morning glory-
Tastes the sublime love of nature.

When we started to paint the sky
Brown and the ocean water black?
They taste sticky and cold death.


This place is of death, and I
Belong to anywhere else.
In my place lives dress in many
Shades, from infant to old age.
There, the death is only a visitor.
Occasionally it may lure some to go
With it, and they never return.
Here, in this place, lives spend in cages.
They sit, stand, eat, and wait to die.
Some come out of eggs, and some from
Mothers whom they never see again.
Some have two legs/wings and others four,
Yet no use; they don’t know what is
Life in infancy, childhood, teenage,
Youth, middle age, and old age.
They eat and drink whatever they get,
They don’t know any other tastes
Like a worm or fly from among the bush,
A different vine, or fresh grass,
Or occasionally a long-bean’s vine,
Or banana skin or jack fruit leftover
As the grandmothers of our place
Give them every other day or river water.
To grow fatty and fast to death
They were given extra magic potions
Through injections or through food.
They don’t have any feelings; they just
Don’t cry as it happens in our place
When a calf is gone astray.
For them life is monotonous, no
Childhood nor motherhood,
No illness nor recovery.
Their wings are never opened.
They never get wet in rain nor
See the sun rises and sets,
As in my place where the cows moo
Either to go out to the meadow in sun rise
Or to go home before dark, to their clean sheds.
This is the land of death and I fear
To come here and hate to stay.
If you live here it is either to kill or die,
But I am not for both.

The Connecting Dot

Yore the fort stands
            from another era
kissing the pale cheek
            of horizon.
The road towards it
            lays bare skinned
with scars and stains
            from mindless travellers;
clean or dirty – who cares
            what is that under their feet!
Wearing the rainbow
            from their dreams
two legged or four legged
            (or leg-less) tread it,
hoping to reach, again, back
            to the fort of a golden era.
Now there are no wars
            out there
but inside all brains
            with weapons of more precision.
The tree, trying to stand
            witness, for centuries,
            as a connecting dot,
has twisted branches,
            crossed and twirled,
with many a knot
            along their lengths.
Wearing the rainbow
            from their dreams
still so many sell and buy
            their moments
under its vast shade.

Voices Within - Complete List of Poets :: Setu, January 2019

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