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 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; 

Top of Form

Li

Bottom of Form

 

 

Feb 21st

The Stars as Asleep

By soman

THE STARS ARE ASLEEP

 

The moon and stars are entangled in slumber

While the night around us is misty, romantic,

And your heavenly presence next to me

Doth outshine even my luscious rose lawn.

 

We met each other by divine intent,

And spellbound, gazed into each other’s eyes -

Your gazelle eyes are now shyly downcast,

Yet for me they are naught but sparkling wine.

 

If we both remain thus tongue tied,

Our ardent desires would remain unspoken;

So tell me, darling, in your own sweet voice,

That you are mine, and mine alone.

 

Your silence will weigh us both down,

Such a night may never recur afresh;

Hence this moment of our rendezvous

Should awaken a million memories.

 

Now sing to me, dear, in your sweet voice

That you are solely mine, beloved, just mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 18th

vallathol poem

By soman

 

My Mother – My Language

 

(Poem by Mahakavi Vallathol, circa 1927

– condensed & abridged)

 

The locale -

 

The majestic presence of the ocean in the west,

The Sahyan mountain built on rocks, in the east,

The beneficent blessing of Gokarna temple north,

The friendly visage of Kanya Kumari to the south.

 

The ambience -

 

The Peraar river, pure as the waters of Ganga,

With the delectable taste of tender coconut juice,

The delightful fragrance of sandalwood,

Cardamom, coriander and aromatic herbs.

 

The language –

 

The cultivated majesty of Aryan Sanskrit,

The lissome grace of Dravidian Tamil -

Commingled, embodied in our language -

Let us celebrate the unique stature of their offspring!

 

The word first pronounced by any baby’s lips

While suckling the mother’s breast is - “Amma”.

Other languages are naught but foster mothers;

But for humans, mother tongue is truly one’s own.

 

Even nectar will attain a taste as ‘Amritham’

Only when our Mother places it before us.

Veda, Sasthram or poem becomes memorable

Only when heard from the lips of the mother.

 

The poesy of Genesis, or the grandeur of the five Vedas,

Of  Upanishads, and the essence of jurisprudence,

Were all sung to our people by Mother Kairali,

Leaving no room for grouse at “imperfect  knowledge”.

 

The land of Kerala enjoys commendable repute

Of  ‘spreading red carpet for itinerant scholars’.

Visitors who come seeking knowledge from us

Should never be sent back with an ‘empty satchel’!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 16th

MAHATHMAJI's FURY

By soman

Mahatmaji’s fury    

Poem by Mahakavi Vallathol, Poet Laureate of Kerala                                                          (Sahavasiyude Saahasam)

-- published in 1945

 

Seated in his Shanthi Bhavan was Mahatma Gandhi,

Ruminating over vital national matters. ….

 

His attendant came rushing into the room --

His bearing unusually distressed.and pained.

 

Raising his head, Gandhiji enquired

‘What is wrong, why are you so worked up?’

 

“Please come to my house right away, Sire

You will witness a scene which is abominable”!

 

In the man’s house Mahatmaji saw a man seated on a couch --

The colleague who had earlier come seeking shelter .

Gandhiji had entrusted him to his major domo  –

Who had extended all hospitality as was customary.

 

On the man’s lap lay a young girl, a worn-out gazelle;

There were marks of biting and scratches on his arm --

Evidence that his libidinous instincts had been aroused

Making him attempt to caress the innocent girl.

 

Mahatma’s placid eyes now blazed with fury --

Anyone else would have hit and felled him on the spot –

But with great self control, he just ordered the man

To collect his bag and clear out on the instant.

*

Never to show his face again and pollute his Ashram

Where the criminal had behaved as in a brothel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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