Jul 17th

Mahakavi Vallathol

By soman

VALLATHOL, HIS POETRY AND MESSAGE

 

 

n  BY VLADIMIR ROGOFF,

Russian Author and Translator of Vallathol’s poetry into Russian.

(Abridged version of article published in the Vallathol Memorial Souvenir 1965).

 

When a man is old and beloved by his contemporaries, a strange belief arises in them – that the venerated patriarch will never die.  More bitter their grief when he does die.  But if the departed is a poet, and a great poet to boot, he has more friends than any ordinary man, and the grief grows all the greater.  Such was the death of Mahakavi Vallathol.

*

He is no more, but we still hear his sonorous chants, reciting his poems - and their echo shall reverberate through innumerable centuries.

*

His sight was sharp - it was at once a telescope and a microscope. His poems are luxurious tapestries, whereon are woven intricate designs of the poet’s impressions of the material world.  He had an astute brain and a super-sensitive heart. …And his ideal was: HARMONY – of life and art; the true harmony; the Harmony that only Liberty can bring. The venerable bard never considered himself a person apart from his people.  No ivory tower could lure him away from the steep and glorious road he was treading, to his dying day.  It was for his people that Vallathol wrote his poems.  He made great efforts and achieved remarkable results in preserving the true national culture of his country.

*

In 1951 Vallathol visited my native land, the Soviet Union.  He appeared before a Moscow audience and recited his verse. …  And what applause there was when he ended! The vast Hall of Columns seemed to crack – the language was foreign, but the sentiment it conveyed was magnificent.

*

 

Vallathol lived a long and noble life.  Never did he make a single compromise, but unflinchingly followed the way he deemed right. … We in the Soviet Union are proud of having had among our allies a person so remarkable as Mahakavi Vallathol, Poet Laureate.

Jul 17th

Travails of Polish Immigrants

By soman

 

 

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Fiction


Soman Panicker, Sep 04, 2012
Shoranur Kerala, somasai9@gmail.com

 

 Travails of a Polish Immigrant in USA.

 

A Polish man moved to the USA and married an American girl.
Although his English was far from perfect, they got along very well.

However,  one day he rushed into a lawyer's office and asked him if he could
arrange a divorce for him.
The lawyer said that getting a divorce would depend on the
circumstances, and asked him the following questions:
-------
Question: Have you any grounds?
Answer:  Yes, an acre and half and nice little home.

Q. No, I mean what is the foundation of this case?
A. It is made of concrete.

Q. I don't think you understand. Does either of you have a real grudge?
A. No, we have carport, and not need one.

Q. I mean what are your relations like?
A. All my relations still in Poland .

Q. Is there any infidelity in your marriage?
A. We have hi-fidelity stereo and good DVD player.

Q. Does your wife beat you up?
A. No, I always up before her.

Q. Is your wife a nagger?
A. No, she white.

Q. Why do you want this divorce?
A. She going to kill me.

Q. What makes you think that?
A. I got proof.

Q. What kind of proof?

A. She going to poison me. She buy a bottle at
     drugstore and put on shelf in bathroom. I can read English pretty good,
     and it say:

        “ POLISH  REMOVER”

 

__._,_.___

 

 


May 17th

RESCUED!

By soman

Those were times when arranged marriages were in vogue but this one portrays a departure from the norm.

RESCUED!

--A poem by Mahakavi Vallathol, poet laureate
of Kerala, South India -- circa 1936 -- based on a true story.
***
Seated on a boulder in a lonely lane of the town
A pretty young lady, thoroughly preoccupied
Hurriedly she extracted from her satchel
A white paper with writing on both sides.

She then tore the missive to a hundred shreds,
A strange expression visible on her visage.
Ten times she repeated her strange action --
Her fingers tremulous with agitation.

As she read the letters one by one,
Her face grew crimson with emotion;
Was it roses of love blooming on her cheeks?
Or the embers of a romance extinguished?

In a short while a heap of paper grew at her feet
Like the fragmented skeleton of a jilted love ……..
*
A while later there appeared before her eyes
The very man who had vowed eternal devotion.
Her eyes flaming, she waved a pistol in his face -
“You won’t get a chance to cheat women again!”

The coward stood frozen to the ground with fright
Albeit no bullet had been ejected as yet.
*
Ere she could pull the trigger of the gun,
Her palm was engulfed in the warm hands of a friend. …
She leaned her head on his comforting shoulder,
Sobbing with relief - grateful she was saved!



 



 

 

May 16th

smacked on the face

By soman

SMACKED ON THE FACE!

 

(Poem in Malayalam published in 1951 by

Mahakavi Vallathol, poet laureate of Kerala,

South India.)

 

The father decided to give his daughter

In marriage to a wealthy landlord;

Astrologers nominated the auspicious day;

A ‘shamiana’ was erected, and the dais furnished.

 

A wick-lamp with ‘divine blessings’ was brought,

Carpets were spread on both sides thereof;

Selected guests took their seats thereon --

Men and women deemed worthy of such honor.

 

The bride, a teenager of remarkable beauty,

Was ceremonially escorted by her aunties

And took her position on the bridal perch;

While the suitor bowed his head before her. 

 

She ignored the expectant bridegroom 

(Who had just crossed his sixtieth milestone)

And espying her childhood friend standing nigh

Promptly adorned him with the nuptial garland.

 

Her courage attracted jubilant applause,

While her father watched in utter dismay;

A guest asked, “Was the money you took from him

Adequate to cover her beauty and youth?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 14th

Between two Mugs

By soman


Poetry



Between two mugs

Original Malayalam:Mahakavi Vallathol,PoetLaureate of Kerala, 1928

 

An old Brahmin boarded the train at Shoranur;

(He could well afford the first class ticket);

He was dressed in orthodox style,

With dhoti plus shawl, and long hair tied in a knot.

 

Two young Indian sahibs were seated on one berth

The old man occupied the vacant space between them.

The youngsters started poking fun at him,

Commenting on his attire and on his knotted hair.

 

They spoke in English, confident it was beyond him;

But feeling bored after a while

They turned on him with a smirk,

“Your holiness, are you a fool or an idiot”?

 

The oldie ponderously opened his brass ‘chellum’,

Extracteda paan and insertedin his mouth.

 

Cool,unruffled, the Brahmin then replied –

In clear English – “Oh, all I can say is,

I feel I am trapped between the two”.

The twain were struck dumb with that slap on theirface.

 

 

May 8th

Confessions of an Addict

By soman

  

In my human incarnation I was a nameless cipher

Unable to choose between right and wrong.

*

I have today granted special leave to my woes

 And reserved a de-luxe suite in paradise.

My fate and I have reached a compromise

  Now  fairies jostle around in my dreams,

 

Busy filling silver tumblers with precious nectar;

‘Gandharva’ musicians play their divine band

While lissome Apsara dancers of Indra’s  court --

Famed for their beauty and grace -- perform.

*

My ‘Puhpak Viman’ is revved up to ferry me home

But I have no wish ever to exit from this heaven                                                                               

 And return to the hell whence I had sprung --

To be kicked around by every moron I meet.

*

……Waiter, another large, please……

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

NOTE

Gandharva – legendary characters famous for proficiency in Music

Apsara dancers – noted for their beauty and talent

Indra – monarch  who controls the sky

PushpakViman  -- aircraft reserved for  royalty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 6th

Smacked On The Face

By soman

(Poem in Malayalam published in 1951 by

Mahakavi Vallathol, poet laureate of Kerala,

South India.)

 

The father decided to give his daughter

In marriage to a wealthy landlord;

Astrologers nominated the auspicious day;

A ‘shamiana’ was erected, and the dais furnished.

 

A wick-lamp with ‘divine blessings’ was brought,

Carpets were spread on both sides thereof;

Selected guests took their seats thereon --

Men and women deemed worthy of such honor.

 

The bride, a teenager of remarkable beauty,

Was ceremonially escorted by her aunties

And took her position on the bridal perch;

While the suitor bowed his head before her. 

 

She ignored the expectant bridegroom 

(Who had just crossed his sixtieth milestone)

And espying her childhood friend standing nigh

Promptly adorned him with the nuptial garland.

 

Her courage attracted jubilant applause,

While her father watched in utter dismay;

A guest asked, “Was the money you took from him

Adequate to cover her beauty and youth?”

May 5th

The Terminal Journey

By soman

      THE TERMINAL JOURNEY

     - by Mahakavi Vallathol, Poet Laureate of Kerala, South India written in 1925……….

     Dawn: the railway station was thronged with people
     Of diverse pursuits, men and women,
     Some togged up in flashy costumes,
     But the majority clad in workaday wear.

     Destined for different stations,
     On diverse errands of their own
     They all had bought their tickets -
     Some to alight at the next station,
     But others bound for destinations
     Thousands of leagues away.

     Unruffled by all the rush and bustle,
     Lay in a corner, one solitary soul --
     Stretched on the bark of a fallen tree --
     Awaiting arrival of his ‘special VIP train’.
    
     This long distance traveler was draped
     In naught but a soiled loin cloth.
     Neither would he need any ticket
     For this terminal journey of his life.

    
     The morning sun had gone up a yard,
     And the heat too was rising to suit.
     Even in this hour of leisure
     His brow glowed with the sweat of toil
                                 *
     The train chugged in with a hoot at last,
     And the crowds jostled for entry.
    
     As it pulled out with a final whistle,
     His soul too left his body with a prolonged sigh.    
    

     (Free translation of a poem in Malayalam by Mahakavi Vallathol,
     Poet Laureate of Kerala, published in 1925)

Feb 28th

Mahakavi Vallathol

By soman

VALLATHOL, THE LEGEND

 

(From a pen-portrait written by well known progressive writer M.S.Devadas in 1978)

 

In appearance, he was a tall, lean man, fair-complexioned with long arms and legs; but broad-chested and broad-shouldered.  His face and features were particularly handsome, and his well-shaped large eyes remarkably expressive.  Vallathol had a dignified, graceful presence which commanded attention and respect wherever he went, and in whichever company he moved –even in the circles of philistines and mountebanks among the powers that be, who could not really understand or appreciate an iota of his greatness.

 

Vallathol: What a giant of a man he was!  But he was always a gentle giant.  He never harmed anyone, but only tried his best, as far as he could, to help others in distress.  Though a deaf man from the time he finished his translation of Valmiki’s Ramayana, i.e. since the thirtieth year of his life, he never allowed this physical disability, or any other subsequent trial or tribulation in his personal life, to daunt or embitter his spirits. Ever cheerful and optimistic to the last, he laughed away his cares.  He always walked forward along his chosen path through life with firm steps, vigorously and fast, as was his wont, till the end of his days.  He never faltered.  He never looked back.  That was Vallathol the man.

 

One looks around in vain nowadays to see the like of him again.

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 25th

Mahakavi Vallathol

By soman

Tribute to Vallathol
-by poet P. Bhaskaran
Here I stand on the banks of River Nila,
Near the bridge over which he straddled,
Replete with the memory of 50 years,
At the cremation ground where a great legend came to rest.
In a magic garden over which my heart stands guard,
I shall now place a wreath of sweet memories
Of my guru, - a poet who was a hermit too –
Respectfully, and prostate myself at his feet.
(Free translation of concluding stanza,
rendered by Soman; 

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