Translation: Yakoob’s Poems [Telugu to English]

[All poems in Telugu are translated into English by T.S.Chandra Mouli]
1. Border Line               

Living together too is an offence---
but, between every movement, action lie unknown lines.

1.Quite unknowingly between inerasable  lines
life started afresh also begins as a query
Five year old Sahir saying
‘Dada’s family is Allah’s
Ammamma, thathayya belong to God’s family’
begins life with the same query.
The little one’s life too 
finds it difficult to tide over rigid frame work of faiths.
In his playful acts, movements, behaviour
borders of religion
Ammamma’s house,Dada, Dadi’s residence
two different borders.

2.It is not a crime to love
sporting a mark on forehead, 
erasing it in village border also not a crime
Brought up, traditions are like striking measures of life.
‘Salutations to Saraswati’
‘ Allaho Akbar’
mark measurable differences in conjugal life.
Betwixt provocative religions 
from the names to roots of stretching sanctions
she remains as a Temple and I am a Mosque.
for this little one, mark of our association
which ‘Trishanku Palace’ has to be sought?

3.Philosophers too don’t divulge
if at all we reach a state sans religions
Atheists abandon not dots, bangles, turmeric stains.
Rationalists, non-believers leave not symbols of faiths
Perhaps, religion too
has acquired a right over body like blood.

4.Between a body and nation a borderline
separating self and religion
distancing a person and affinities

border line!

2. Avval Kalima

You don’t believe my words
but, no one speaks of our problems
here too once again people who lost glory
ten or eleven generations earlier alone
reminisce, terming it our collective expression.

Perhaps, this is itself exploitation of experiences!

Actually ‘Nawabu’, ‘Muslimu’, ‘Sayibu’, ‘Turaka’---
whoever is known by such names, belong to those classes exclusively---
for those who enjoyed  lost glories of  empire, jagir, nawabi, patel
at least remnants of their pomp are alive,
we are  prisoners of our lives chained to work and survival. 
We are left ever with nothing to call our own.
What is left with us to call our own…
 We don’t know to address our mothers ‘Ammi Jaan,’
but know only to call them ‘Oyamma!’ 
We are expected to address our fathers--- ‘Abbu’, ‘Abbaa jaan’, ‘Pappa’.
How do we know? Nor our fathers too taught us.
How do we, who live in bamboo curtained inner homes, know
what ‘Haveli,’ ‘Chaar deewaar’, ‘Khilwat’, ‘Paradaa’ signify?
My grandfather used to state Namaaz was but bending and getting up!
Never learnt this language of ‘HiRrahman’, ‘Alla-ho-Akbar’,’Roza.’

Festivals mean pickled rice for us
Biryaanis,Talaavs,Palaavs,Sheer Khurmas for you
Sherwanis,Roomi Topees,Salam shahi shoes, 
clothes perfumed with ‘ithar’  are for you people,
we have for clothes fluttering breeze.

You may not believe, but if we tell 
fear haunts that we will be looked down upon!

Pentusaabu,Uddandu,Dastagiri,Naagulu,China Adaam
Laalu,Peda Moula,China Moula,Shakh Sreenivasu
Bethamcherla Moin,Patikatta Malsur---are these not our names?

Mentioning your families’ pomp, position with names like
 Shaikh,Sayyad,Pathan--- were we ever allowed to approach you?
we became traces of time where vocation was stung by caste.
We became ‘Binistees’ storing water in your homes
we were ‘Dhobi’, Dhobans’ washing your clothes
when your hair was trimmed we were called ‘Hazzams’
cleaning your toilets we became ‘Mehethar’. ‘Mehatharani’s…
remained tokens of time when our job was stung by caste!

As you say we are all Musalmans only!
We don’t dispute, but how about this discrimination?

We too like it---if unsettled balance sheet of ages
extricated in excavations is reconciled now, don’t we love it?
What is there to learn of common enemy afresh now
collusion of common friendship has to be decided now!
All those oppressed are Dalits—we don’t deny,
but definition of suppression is on demand now!

So strange---the language we use is not ours, they say!
What you call our language we don’t know
finally landed in chaotic state of mothertonguelessness.
Became outcastes for speaking in Telugu.
“Though a Muslim, you speak Telugu so well?” 
Just don’t know whether to laugh or cry!

All our dreams are Telugu, tears too Telugu
Asking for food when hungry or crying in anguish for help 
total expression is Telugu only!

We looked around when asked to perform Namaaz
were perplexed unable to understand ‘Azaans
searched for ‘ragas’ in the notes of  ‘Suuraas’ 
when we were asked to pray in a language not known to us
we lost the pleasure of praying too!

You won’t believe us
no one speaks of our agony.

Self-respect is a ‘Dastarkhan’ unrolled before all
it is not the sole right of a few well to do persons only to enjoy
whoever toys with the honour of a fellow human being
it is betrayal, rank  betrayal

Exploitation of experiences is a greater treachery!

3. Who Am I?  

I need to finalise a lot
you decide what is my religion soon.

You declare my sky, earth, the sun and the moon quickly
Tell me correctly, whether you bury me or cremate.
draw a line or picture on my face
looking through your lenses, using yardsticks.
In a world where my birth lace remains unknown
every dust bin owns me,
Every desire ,a faith that disowns me.
I just don’t know who am I
dear friends, you have your estimates
correctly evaluate who I am!

Those that examine my hands
those that attribute religion to my breath
those that relate my lament to some scripture
you are not my men!

What your history or religious books taught unnecessary now
I need  a little space to sit amidst people
I long for a loving soul
I require  for a morsel of food to douse my hunger
I want  a few drops of water to slake my thirst.
I belong to the religion of birds and animals
no energy now to detail  further.

Which religion relates to my birth
how far I know?

No proof available, tell me honestly
which kind lady gave me birth under some roof,
how I was flung into some dustbin.
I have neither historical records nor ballads
to probe the remote reasons and eras
to confirm place of my birth or reason for it.

I know how to imagine
but not how to confuse
whoever offers food when I am hungry is my man
I can place my bonds and brethren.
Answers to my questions unfold slowly
My decisions, my life---
all emerge from my thoughts now on!

4.  Fusion of Notes

Why do ragas blend…

Our ‘Buggavagu’ knows music
even the creek rasping across sand
even the young fish deftly dipping into the stream knows notes
spectacles landing on eyelids are musical
In fact
I hid myself beneath melody tucked under the bridge
learnt tunes from satiated sonorous hiss of 
entwined snakes making love in my presence.

I fixed string like ‘Mehrab’ across me who spread as a wall
only to fine tune myself
who  ever stretches a hand
I offer myself as a tune all over ‘Mehrab’.

Just for singing secretly
I bowed myself in humility
in the embodied forms of pleasured pain.

Why this unrest darling!
I presented myself to you!
I know well you won’t forsake or forfeit me
you are the light holding lamp for me!
You are lifeline knowing intricacies of my melody!
Allow me to spread into you!
Preserve within you bridges, brooks,’Mehrabs’ I need to tune

‘Mile Sur….’

5.Box of Blessings

Drenched in rain
harassed in hot sun,
like essence of introspection of a great worker
from my village,my mother reached my home in city.

Mother is 
incarnation of motherhood that remains with unchanged meaning any time.

Mother is the one
who showers love untiringly
having performed ritual of birth at the altar of creativity.

From the village, crossing the borders
carrying a little love, some more sadness,
a few more eatables , mother in search of dear child.

Her main concern----
children’s welfare, lifelong
longing endlessly, untiringly---mother.

Mother remains compassionately, affectionately
holding her place, potential 
always unchanged, preserving eternally---

At times
when the cord holding me and the world
becomes feeble,
relationships get strained,
again from mother, from her compassion
a thin strip swirls strengthening itself.

Whenever agitation, exhaustion, listlessness
combine draining,
raising arms all over her body,
filling love in eyes
carrying message of peace, soothing balm
she lands on any spirit as a divine bird.

Mother explicates,
our origin, existence, destination,
explaining like a lesson,
offering slices of sweet lemon to relish
in her presence patiently presents.

inheritance of box of blessings
a refreshing breeze with cajoling touch.
Treasured in inner core
Amazing root of life!

6. Dark Alleys

Steps of darkness ahead.
Moistures of still wet feet on the steps
clusters of light on the wane in eyes, after blooming aplenty.

One has to locate direction like a bird
limbs open up in pain like sweet lemon
blurring layer in eyes fuses trees, birds and men.

Man also changes like seasons
shedding leaves, flowers
leaves and flowers shed
are eyes sans life---
Blue sky spreads across vision.

Trees spread black flowers all along the path
The moon fills dark moonlight in eyes
river quenches thirst with dark water.

Eyes fixed on finger tips 
squat on papers like rabbits.
Stick in hand connects
feet and hands with string of light.

Patting pavements feet locate address
Sound lights up inner vision
All along the way signs of touch stretch like eyes.

Unfolding ‘Padmavyuha’ complex ways
he keeps walking further, far away
till the edge of darkness!

Yakoob’s Bionote: Kavi Yakoob is a well-known name in the world of Telugu literature, a poet, researcher, writer and singer by choice and natural propensities. Published 4 anthologies of Telugu poetry , edited twelve books and has authored eight books on Literary Criticism. He was honoured with several awards over the years. He is also founder of Kavisangamam, a Telugu Poetry forum.Founder of Rottamaku Revu Poetryspace Foundation (RRPF) Currently, he is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Telugu, in Hyderabad.

Translator’s Bionote:

T. S. Chandra Mouli , an academic , poet, translator and critic, is a Fellow of Royal Asiatic Society, Great Britain and Ireland. With 3 books of poems in English to his credit, he published 26 books [19 edited anthologies of literary criticism and 7 authored works]. He completed translation assignments for institutions of higher learning.
 His poems in English and translations of Telugu poetry and fiction are extensively published. He is the Chief Editor of VIRTUOSO, a Refereed Transnational Bi-Annual Journal of Language and Literature in English, approved by U.G.C.

Vice Chairman of AESI [Association of English Studies in India] for a second term, Dr Mouli made panel presentations in International Conferences in universities in China, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, U.K, France,Sri Lanka, Brazil, Cambodia. Visited Vietnam and Singapore as a tourist. He lives in Hyderabad.


1 comment :

  1. all the poems are spectacular in its imagery and and appeal. great challenging poems and kudos to the editor for supporting this unique voice.


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