Vivid and Vibrant - 4 by Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B. SignUp
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Vivid and Vibrant - 4
by Dr.Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B. Bookmark and Share

Continued from Previous Page

An individual wants to befriend and keep the forlorn moonlight:

Scared, throwing its arms round my neck, said she
“Did I become a burden to you too?
There's none looking forward to seeing me
No lakes for me to lie down and sleep
No green trees to sit on
Compassionate one! Don't forsake me,
Keep me in you hiding.” Said She,
Comforting it, consoling, I embraced it hard - Desaraju

Lonely hearts yearn for something out of the ordinary. In the poem “Into the State of Negation” the poet describes his perception of what it is to lose certain things:

Do you know what it is to bear promises gone dry into rainbows?
Don't you? - That's losing!
Do you know what it is to lose the feel of feeling?
It is resting stretching your body on peaks of snow
To knock at doors giving away unbearable burden
Of the goal-forgotten letters... - Yarlagada Raghavendra Rao

It is difficult to earn and deserve liberty but, surely, it is harder to retain it :
If ultra-modern civilisation,
Reduces you to a beast
Repent for that
Then only you'd realise
Liberty is a hanky you've lost. - Ramathirtha

For a thinker, especially a poet, solitude is a blessing, more so, when things go awry or people around become impossible to tolerate :
One put his head in a bottle of Aristocrat
Another had his trousers on his head searching for his 'g' string
Still another stuck heroin in his veins and fell asleep staring

This guy
Sat with Marylyn Munroe stuck to his middle
He's looking with x-ray lens his own sister
Midnight revelling with Mehboobi
He gets the Gita by rote in the morning - Denchanala Srinivas

Martial happiness is not ideal or idyllic when one has the other shore in mind:

Go to the seashore on a moonlit night
The manas is transformed into a wave of joy

One into the other, and into Nature we flow

When it is morning; as usual once again
You with total, exclusive imperial rights as husband
Me into the role of a totally devoted wife
How much is the comparability between the sea and co-habitation
Always stink of fish - T. Ravi

Optimism has value when things around are not much to expectation or satisfaction

For light that fled
Everyone is searching
With closed eyes
With doors and windows shut
No one tried
For that which lay hidden in themselves
Light has not fled anywhere
It's there firmly in my own fist - G. Gopaliah

Action and endeavour ensure joy of achievement, not mere waiting for change:

If the hearts of boulders break
And from them
The fire of revolution flows
Boulders would garlands be!
Boulders would the workers' brawny arms be! - Gi. Sa. Na. Ra

It is in man himself to find light-joy and happiness. For the optimist the sun goes on rising :

From noon to dawn the vision of future is manifest
After the sun leaves-only to rise
Right afterwards we retire
Amidst the four walls to sleep
Unable to comprehend when we are awake
Always the sun goes on rising. - Chaya Raj


Now to the comment of a well-known poet (not a Telugu poet) but in a South Indian language where readership of poetry has been as wide as its publication that our poetry should gain further subtlety in the years to come. Every language has its innate genius, which is part of the ethos of that language community. Whorf's hypothesis could as well be stretched to poetic language also and turn of expression. Telugus are a large speech community and the genius of the language tends to effusion, warmth, simple diction and straight-forward expression. And then, it is the genius of language that Telugus tend more towards over-statement than understatement. Brevity is the soul of wit but in our poetry, expansiveness is welcome. For obvious reasons obfuscation and obscurantism have not gone well with Telugu poetry. Telugu ethos it is to call a spade a spade and in so many words too. Right from the epic and prabandha periods the genius of this language lay both in straight-forwardness and expansiveness. Wordiness is in its very nature. There are many occasions of hyperbole and high-flown, pedantic diction but no single instance can be shown where the dictionary or the exegete could be of no help. Complexity of thought is welcome but then there is no deliberate attempt at obfuscation or clouding. For readers with ideas that subtlety and complexity in and by themselves are virtues and obfuscation a distinction, Telugu poetry may not hold much appeal. Telugus are what they are and they have been so down the ages. Subtlety and subterfuge are not great virtues as dhwani and suggestion. Surely, highbrow pseudo profundity can never have any values in the poetry of any language. Trilingadesa, the land of the Telugus, is the blessed region where rivers like the Godavari and the Krishna flow along with many a smaller one with their lucid and life-giving waters. Transparency and lucidity are their blissful, benign, qualities. The sweetness can be tasted in the literature in the language too, specially, in its poetry.

The merit of any poem is the poet's and the lapses of translation are surely the translator's. Faithful-beautiful cleavage-in the statement that translation if beautiful is not faithful and if faith not beautiful-is to my mind at best a cruel joke if not a vomit of male chauvinism. Translation, as someone said, is a necessary evil, or as somebody, more graciously averred a sacred sin. At any rate, for the translator it is a labour of love.

Sugar Cane Cart

Better than flaming eye
It is the sweat which worships the wounded earth
Amidst sugar cane carts that pass like ants in a row
Along the sleeping road with night as his blanket
The lad that hums ecstatically is only a retained hand
Like mother's milk
It is her milk transformed by him that runs the mill
Making life-giving waters flow in the fields of sugar-cane
He grew the crop as the hair to offer as vowed
Made the landlord grow
Became he a pot-holed road going round and round as a mill-ox
An axle of the old house worn out
A mended sari of his marriageable lass
His is the life hanging on the rope plied by daily wounds
A burning piece of sandalwood in the pyre of farm hand's wages
Like bagasse, like a pot unbaked
His son's life too is like his own
Even then, from the cart moving along
The song the lad sings is his own

(Naleswaram Sankaram, Doodi Meda, 1995)

Star Domineering

Only till your eyes you give away
Then with you all glances their relations snap
You become a pet dog and lie dribbling
With brain dropped somewhere
Only head moves on torso
Episodes enticing you draw you into their lap
Beat on marches on pupils, noisily trampling
Scenes realistic on retinas
Hooves become dung-stained imprints
Only till you begin seeing; later becomes truth bitter
Shapely beauties vie disrobing shamelessly
To cook sweet loves for you
Frenzied in the whirlwind of seasons
Squeezed day long, with nail marks of stars
You swoon rumpled and lacerated in body
There is no hope of recovery
It is a dreadful snare
A net cast to render you and me dry
A dream that plunders eyes with
Effervescence of colours
Injecting steroids to render us blind
Making you incapable of igniting and even of questioning
Putting the star into your head, taking wings into custody
It is part of the stratagem
Part of it is teaching delicacy of nerves too
And grafting pneumonia
Playing with your pupils’ ping-pong in Hong Kong
Is again part of the plot!
Now on, you are a slave, your movements are those of a slave
For tomorrow's barren world seed is your eyesight
Hereafter on all your eyes remains the domineering of the Star. *

(*Referring to the Star T.V.)

(Vajjhala Siva Kumar, Chukka Pettanam, March 1992)


Godavari at Doorstep

Alone, holding my damp heart in my hand, I sat on my pyol
Slowly, like a white cobra creeping
The Godavari was at my doorstep
Crossing the dams we built for ourselves
Crossing the stone statue of Cotton
The great sage we remember everyday with gratitude
Flowing over green fields now big graveyards
Daubing herself red, decking her hair with uprooted trees
Carrying string-cots and kids' cradles
Like an elderly pious mother looking
Naming herself innocently varada*, how can I write ?
Yes... true it is, your arrival here for us is verily a festival
With drops of early rains of spring, sweet fragrance of earth
Like a new bride in our narrow canal flowing,
Huddled in low profile
With your name our district became Godavari
Never did we wait for drops that'd slide from above as rain
Food packets that are air-dropped or flash news just received
Confidently with the plough on shoulder
Coconut, turmeric and kumkum in hands we invited you
Levelled the fields driving the oxen
Gave, ate sumptuously and burped
While young once, long ago, we passed time
Listening to elders' reminiscences and the dreams you left
But...if we had known you'd gatecrash
Would have left with knapsacks to drag our lives
Far away where no rivers ran, trusting in the oases in deserts
Not being able to snap connections with one another
The connections of our village with those around
As easily as you do, not able to leave the place of my birth
The village too where my mother came to settle,
Houses and people, alone, tears eddying in my eyes
I've been waiting for tomorrow's sunrise
Please don't vex me, I cannot invite you

(Madhunapantula Satyanarayan Murty, Parampara 1995)
(*This word means both a flood and a boon-giver)

Bunnies in a Cage

On the day when there no school
The ears of the little ones are glued to hostel-gates
If they are their people, they'd twist around the visitors with joy
Frisking around them, the world around them they forget
The eyes that watched and waited for those who never came
The eyes that keep seeing till they who came recede
Go on raining tears till them they overtake
From the soft sleepy lap of the loving mother
From the springs of love and affection in those eyes
Away, cruelly, as punishment for some lapse unknown
This is the ruse-to be rid of the wailing and mischief
The potions and balms: to reduce the load, to perform duty
Isn't just for this, like stalls and pan-shops
The convents in every corner did sprout ?
Hotel plus school is equal to business
It is in return that here, truly here
The little buds that get everything by bothering mothers
Get used to lie in prisons
Always afraid to speak up
Always dependent, jealous of others' joy
Making a habit to silently weep
Wailing, ever dreaming of mother, grow they, feebly in sleep

(Mukunda Rama Rao, Valasapoyina Mandhaasam, 1993)

The Undercurrent

As the ocean takes in yet another grain of sand
Age gets caught in time's crook, led where being tugged
Moving, moving, till snapped all of a sudden
Picking up or watching the examples that come slashed
Absent-mindedly, its movement without beginning or end
Spreads every day one darkness and daylight
Even then all wouldn't be alike
Though seem dependent, none would stop for another
Flower beds or piercing thorns
How to bear those, the age that wears each is learning
To look back is to lag behind
Each time to rebel or to rush becomes an act of courage
Exhausted we stop to go on looking
At those getting lost in the darkness
Our shadow becomes darkness for others

(Mukunda Rama Rao, Valasa Poyina Mandahaasam, 1993)


Clothes Peg

Immobile, dumb, though driven into the wall ages ago,
Many are the tales it can tell like a stone wondrous,
Which on touch would tinkle umpteen tunes
Ever since I knew, sparrows of many an age flitted
On this peg and with joyous copulation plentifully bred
This it is which gave respite to the instrument
Which went about with holes in the body whole
Drawing rangolis on our dung-washed festival floors
Like the wandering showman with a knife thrust in cheek
Threadbare, with spokes sticking out of the tattered clothes
For the Bhisma-like umbrella which stood protecting us
It is the peg that gives the arrow-bed at the time of need
Like Vykuntham's portrait of a Telengana dame dark and tall
My aunt returning from work in a mill or in a coconut stall
At dusk buying drops that changed colours when I sucked
And hiding them for me in the German silver box
It was on that peg it was hung
In our third room which was dark even at midday
After midnight the second bird in Mundaka would perch
And thrusting its head in cantos
Would get engrossed in contemplating the self
With no gold and without even a puste, her turmeric thread
Would my mother drape piously to keep it safe all night?
Their pursuing the third end blissfully copulating
In that corner, the peg watched the act, unmoved like the saint Suka
Now, while unable to cross life's ocean
At a time when the bark of the body is about to sink
Removing clothes and holding them aloft, in the lone journey
Swimming, swimming the Vytarini, and unable to go further
Departing silently, the unsnuff able flame
The atma is hung to this very peg

(Sikhamani, Chilakkoyya, 1993)

Notes : Rangoli is a floral pattern drawn on the floor with flour, Vykuntham, a painter; Telengana, a part of Andhra; Mundaka, an upanishad; puste, a sacred sign of marriage, Vytarani, the river the dead have to cross; aatma, the soul.

Glows of Life

When someone felled the branch and the crow's nest tumbled down
When the little one, not yet learnt to caw, fell down gasping
Perhaps I learnt to speak words
Word after word was permeated with grief in layers
On the green meadow graceful and beautifully running
When the cartwheel went up a boulder and broke
Perhaps I learnt to walk: in every step cross blows hound me
All labour gone down, the sapling-field mocking with twisted lip
Drawn to the marketplace to shell out the moneys due
Head bowed, when my father was doodling on the ground
Perhaps I learnt to write:
Every time I put pen to paper, tears fall
Tending household and managing, sitting before the choolah
Struggling to stifle the sobs, the rice not getting cooked
When my mother pushing in faggots deeper to burn better
Perhaps I learnt to think deep
Every atom goes on winnowing waves of raging heat

(Nandini Sidha Reddy, Praana Hita, 1995)

Life

Life
Not a dark moonless night thrown away
A blooming moonlight
Each tear drop-each cross blow
Each hurricane in life's garden
Becomes a flower each of spreading fragrance
Today's agony and today's turmoil
With self-confidence asserting
Would be a highway to tomorrow's joy
Which raises man sky high
Life
Not a passing dream
But a flame that fires
Fires of problems always go on raging
One who runs away is a coward
A man true to himself fights bravely
Life
The wheel of time dashing fast
Picking up speed nearer comes to the goal
To rest for a moment is to be thrown back an age

(S.V. Satyanarayana, Yuddham Jaruguthune Vundi, 1992)

Whipping Showman

For a span size belly
Arm-long moustaches, rag G-string
Penury stricken lives' rumbles of stomachs
The whipping showman's drumbeats in the front yard
His sword feats, blood drops the infant tummy sheds
For the rest of the body... for the coin to be tossed
With tears flowing down, saving in swaddle clothes
Whipping himself noisily, once again, in another front yard
For a span size belly
Arm-long moustaches, rag G-string
Penury stricken lives' rumbles of stomachs
The whipping showman's drumbeats in the front yard

The nomadic Peddammalavadu - whipping showman - is a mendicant going round villages and small towns with noises of whipping himself for alms.

Flies Wouldn't Bandage Wounds

Just like that, for nothing, I get into caves, would be waiting
For blood sucking bats with eager nerves in my neck
When caves there are none I'd run into you and her
Unable to stand glass on all sides would I be breaking myself loudly
None allowing me in, I'd tease Adams and Eves
Even corpses' bodies are not vacant: some of those who came
Cooling Marx emptied him into their glasses
Believing that this ant hill of diseases
This field of wounds would be handy
I stand in road junctions to be sold (recycling industry, not stable yet)
Albert Camus, Sir, Kropotkin’s hanging garland did not fit my neck
Though plague infested, die I did not:
How painful it is to be... more than rape
Didn't I then jump to swim in wells, why did I climb along nerve ropes
Into swimming pools with no water, mouthfuls of mischief
Not word, flame, flame, flame
You say I don't know language, does it know me?
May your myopic glasses break! May your bus reach your place:
Don't have anything to do with me: I don't know speech
Abuse I would, and if beaten, abuse again:
Only the day before one university winked at me in some mood
Moved, I scratched his eye for him: he wept
Even without thanking me he left hurriedly
For he had a meeting to attend
All flies swarming on raw wounds
What if the bandage is opened and the wound is laid bare
They'd get a fright:
If they can't see, at least they can hear or touch :
All said and done I see in the dark room
A corpse on my side,
Not able to untie myself, I explode from within
Must say 'sorry' only to Nietzsche.
When I run into him in the lunatic asylum
Disease means nothing else except disease
Wound doesn't mean anything else except a wound

(H.R.K. Okkokka Raatri, 1996)

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08-Sep-2018
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