Sunday, May 30, 2010




compiled by
naveena virutcham

english translation
latha ramakrishnan
published by

A note on AZHAGIYASINGER, Editor, Navina Virutcham and the compiler of the Anthology of Virutcham Poems titled .Virutcham Kavidhaikal’

Original name Chandramouli. He has been contributing as a poet, short-story writer and also the editor of a Tamil Literary Magazine by name Navina Virutcham, actively engaged in doing his might to enrich Contemporary Tamil Literature.

So far , his two poem-collections titled ‘Yaarudanum Illai’ ( ‘With None’ - 1995) and ‘Tholaiyadha Dhooram’( ‘The Distance That Never Ceases To Be’ – 2001) and also a volume of his full collection of poems have been published. Already three short-story collections of Azhagiyasinger have been published. His short-story titled Uncle has fetched him the prestigious Katha Award. And, he has received the esteemed ‘Thirupur Thamizh Sangam Award for his translation-work titled ‘Yugantha’.

Azhagiyasinger’s poems and short-stories have been translated into English, Hindi , Punjabi and several other Indian language.

Single-handedly and steadfastly, unmindful of the fact that his literary efforts have not been duly recognized, he has been publishing the Tamil Literary Quarterly ‘Navina Virutcham which has provided place for many a promising writer and poet to prove their worth, for the past 20 years.

Further, Azhagiyasinger has also published several meritorious works of contemporary writers through Virutcham Veliyidu.

And, he has organized many a literary meet as part of his Virutcham activities.

He is working as an officer in Indian Bank and now stationed in Myladuthurai, Tamil Nadu. His family lives in Chennai.

Poet Ra.Srinivasan

( Excerpts from INTRODUCTION TO VIRUTCHAM KAVIDHAIKAL that has appeared in the first volume of Virutcham Kavidhaikal )

Neo-Poetry or Modern-Poetry has come to stay. The initial doubts and apprehensions have disappeared, gradually, in course of time. How can words arranged in lines with no rhyme and meter, i.e., ‘Yadhugai’ and ‘Monai’ become a poem? - so there were many who debated endlessly. Yet, the magnetism of Neo-Poetry proved to be such that more and more discerning readers have been steadily drawn into its fold. It is not that the Prose-Poetry is without rhyme and meter. They are there in it, in a different, more expansive and inclusive form, with a new set of rules of sort. This new form or norm has made poetry-writing and reading easily accessible and it helped establish each poet’s exclusive identity. But, it should be remembered that this freedom is not all that unconditional, for, with all its easy usage of words without adhering to any rigid set of rules, it demands a depth that qualifies it as poetry. Hence, though its form has turned simpler its content turned heavy and ambiguous. And, this ambiguity came in the way of understanding the neo-poetry. This problem of understanding is associated with the poems of the ‘small magazines or alternate magazines…

The history of Modern Tamil Poetry highlights Bharathiar as its pioneer. The small magazines that followed him, cherished and nourished this prose-poetry as the new form of Poetry. At that time the theme of these poems was anything. Simple issues, feelings, daily life, social life and one’s comments and viewpoints on them – all these formed the subject-matter of Poetry. During that period the form and outward shape of poem were concentrated upon more. The commercial magazines aped the form of the neo-poetry without bothering about the essential requirements of its content – ambiguity, intensity and depth and published mostly the poems of academicians and film-lyricists. And, the readers who happened to read such pseudo neo-poems in pop magazines began to feel tired of them. It was at this time many started writing poetry and various theories of Poetry began to do their rounds. It was a time when readers of Poetry grew lesser in number and the writers, the reverse. Thus, on one side the form of prose-poetry became popular and soon lost its hold. At the same time the real Neo-Tamil Poetry Movement grew in Small Magazines and moved on to attain various dimensions. They analyzed the various aspects of man’s inner life with a genuine passion and in all seriousness. Hence, the expertise of blending the social life with that of man’s inner life, and, studying and revealing its shades and nuances in this perspective and with this perspective gained momentum. Poetry gained depth. And, this gave rise to the ambiguous nature of neo-Tamil poetry, not easy to understand. Hence, poetry tended to look more alien. To attain a balance in this, it becomes imperative to have the reader too partake in the creation of the poem. To get the feel of the same experiences that a poet gains during the process of creating a poem , the reader is expected to rise himself to the same elevated state. In other words, while reading a poem, attuning himself to it the reader too has to create it. With the help of the same words and their meanings the reader is expected to complete it. This is the only way that helps the reader to comprehend the essence of the poem concerned and to test the strength of it.

The underlying theme-content of Today’s Neo-Tamil Poetry can be classified as follows: Social and sociological aspects, the intricacies of the individual mind and also its mysteries and multi-dimensions. The first and foremost duty of Poetry is to give forth a vision. This vision which is hidden in the labyrinth of word and meaning is retrieved as the poet’s experience, and, through an inner activity that takes place in him it takes on the shape of Poetry. This is why the vision and the experience and the words merge as one whole, losing their separate identity. In harmony with Nature and moving through the social life, the experiences that the poet’s heart so obtained giving a vision to him which is revealed in his poetry born of his poetic heart that speaks volumes. As a reaction to the experience caused by Nature and Social environment, Poetry is stirred. As the response of the vision gained by the experience, the poem takes place. In such poems high values of life and the seeds of catharsis are inherently available. And, in the poems that are born with these ingredients the socio-cultural and individualistic aspects of man’s external and internal life are studied and explored.

The poems of the first volume of Virutcham Kavidhaikal bear testimony to the fact that the neo-poems of Tamil are rich both in style and content and that they are universal in their appeal and can withstand the test of Time.

* poet ra.srinivasan’s two poem-collections and a short-story collection have so far been published and they are proof enough for his true spirit as a poet.


Till recently the situation was that many a quality work that were being published in the 'little magazines' of Tamil couldn't be brought forth as a collection, as a book. Hence, if someone were to learn about those magazines after a sizeable number of years and feel like reading them, there was no access for realizing this wish. Thus, the literary endeavours of little magazines had to remain unnoticed. Those who contributed to the literary or little magazines had to remain the ‘Unsung Heroes’ of Tamil Literary Field till their life-time and even beyond that. We can claim that the situation is now changed for the better, but, to some extent only; we have a long way to go.

It was only after the review in Dinamani Sudar on the Collection of Tamil poems titled 'Zha Kavithaigal' an academician visited us in person to enquire after the existence of such a literary magazine. Seen in this light, we can well understand the need for compiling the writings - poems, short-stories, essays, literary reviews, editorials of these small magazines as Anthologies to highlight the contribution of Small Magazines toward changing the literary trends, reading habits and also the way they posed a challenge to the mainstream, commercialization of literary sensibilities and sensitivities.

Thus, I set out to publish the Virutcham poems and short-stories as Anthologies. Selected poems from the Virutcham issues during a five year span between 1988 - 93 were brought forth as an anthology titled Virutcham Kavidhaikal - Volume I. Poems of 94 poets, mostly more than one poem of each of those 94 poets, were included in the Anthology. Altogether there are 235 pages in the volume. This initiative was well-received by discerning readers. This Anthology of Virutcham Poems was reprinted in 2006.

When we study the common characteristics of the poems that have appeared in Virutcham issues we can well see that there has been significant changes, both in form and content in the making of Modern Tamil Poetry. Brevity of words which is the essential quality of Poetry can be seen in all these poems of Virutcham. And also, the 'pleasure of reading'.

The act of writing a poem and also the reading of a poem gives one a strange kind of feeling. It is the experience of a visionary, made possible even without the creator consciously striving to make it possible. And, reading a poem gives one the feel of a kind of inexplicable joy mixed with sweet surprise!

Today, Neo-Tamil Poems are born on various levels. Those using melodramatic words and expressions, those which sound didactic, preaching from a pedestal, employing empty rhetoric do not offer any catharsis or pleasure to the readers. And, it is a fact that real poignant Neo Tamil Poetry can be found in the Small Magazines only, even today. It is to be noted here that the Middle Magazines have expanded the space of Modern Tamil Poets.

Today, when one has to be in the midst of a maddening crowd, having to hear and witness things that prove repulsive to human sensitivity, Poetry provides some solace to the heart. Poetry feeds and soothes our battered minds. Also, by causing strange vibrations in our hearts, Poetry lends clarity to our perception of life and things. True, the reader has to seek and find such poems which have these qualities inherent in them.

In this Anthology poems were selected from the first 22 issues of Virutcham which is now in its 17th year of 'being' and this Anthology includes all the poets who have contributed in the said 22 issues. And, it has two noteworthy 'Introductory Essays on Modern Tamil Poetry, written by two poets of merit - poet Gnanakoothan and poet Ra.Srinivasan which give a precise account of the need and evolution of the Modern Tamil Poetry. I convey my sincere thanks to them once again. And, my especial thanks are due to fellow-poet Ra.Srinivasan for his contribution to Virutcham and also to the preparation of this Anthology. And, to all other fellow-writers and poets who have been contributing to Virutcham all these years and proving a steady source of support to its growth and sustenance.

Though I have learnt from my own experience that publishing books and the before and after endeavours that go into it prove a Herculean task, I still feel duty-bound to introduce the range and expanse of Neo-Tamil Poetry to the discerning readers outside Tamil Nadu and also to our own youth who may not be all that familiar with the potentials of Tamil Poetry. Therefore, I have now taken the initiative of publishing around 40 poems from Virutcham Anthology of Poems, in English. And, I sincerely hope that this initiative of Virutcham would be well-received. And, hopefully, more such initiatives would be undertaken in the coming years.



While translating a text if we are to come across a stumbling block, how are we to overcome it? Are we to seek the assistance of others? If so, who should be those others? Or, without making the essence of the text suffer, can we bypass the particular word or expression and move on? Is it essential on the part of the translator to be well-acquainted with the text/author of the text which/whom the translator is rendering in a different language? Is it possible at all for a translation to be 100% sincere to the ‘source text’? What are the liberties a translator can take with the ‘source text’ or that a translator should not? What do we call the ‘politics of translation’?

_ These and more queries and doubts keep afflicting the translator ,but what makes him or her pursue the course, notwithstanding all these apprehensions is the fact that by translating a text he or she shares the aesthetic feelings and valuable information inherent or put forth in a text with his/her fellow-beings who would have otherwise denied access to it by reason of language or landscape, so to say.

Thus, I have set forth to render in English select poems from Virutcham Kavidhaikal ( the word ‘select’ is used not in the negative sense as regards the other poems left out, and, with sufficient resources I am sure Azhagiyasinger, the Editor of Navina Virutcham would be too willing to get all the poems in the said Anthology of Virutcham Poems translated into English and publish a wholesome volume!) with a view to do what I can toward securing the rightful place for Tamil Contemporary Poetry in Indian Poetry and also of the World. I have been doing this all these years, but, my translations of Tamil Poems have not so far been published in a book-form. Hence, my whole-hearted thanks to fellow-poet and Editor of the Tamil Literary Magazine ‘Navina Virutcham’, Azhagiyasinger, for permitting and encouraging me to take up this fruitful initiative.

Creative writing and Translation are complementary to each other. Just because translations are on the increase in Tamil it is not correct to say that there are no original works of merit in Tamil. Both are flourishing side by side, we can say. And, both should flourish side by side for any Language, Literature or Society to grow and develop.

Translating a poem can at best be rendering the ‘readerly-text’ that the translator as a discerning reader of the concerned ‘source language text’ receives with the help of his/her intelligence, sensitivity, experience, familiarity with the text or type of text and several other factors. Poems with multi-layered interpretations, explicit as well as hidden meanings, when translated, are bound to give mostly one predominant layer of meaning only. Sad indeed, but, still efforts at translating poems do continue, for, the wish to let the readers of other lands know how rich and fertile, complex and intense our contemporary Tamil Poems are, is also predominant! And so, I have translated these poems. If there be lapses, they are entirely mine. If the poems in translation prove good to read, the credit goes to the poets concerned.

Poets inside...

1) anandh
2) azhagiyasinger
3) a.amirdaraj
4) athmaji
5) bharathiraman
6) brammarajan
7) china kapali
8) devathatchan
9) devadevan
10) hariharan
11) indran
12) a.ilamparithi
13) iravatham
14) na.jayabaskaran
15) jayadevan
17) kali-das
18) kalyanji
19) kolahala srinivas
20) krishangini
21) kasyapan
22) kalyanaraman
23) manonmani
24) malaisami
25) nakulan
26) neela padmanaban
27) narano jayaraman
28) s.l.narasimhan
29) pasuvaiah
30) pazhamalai
31) perundevi
32) r.rajagopalan
33) ravi subramanian
34) rishi
35) samayavel
36) ra.srinivasan
37) sha-a
38) thirisadai
39) s.vaidheeswaran
40) vikramadhityan
41) vaigaichelvi
42) s.vaidhyanathan


Your Voice

Climbing down the steps and
crossing many a street
going past the bazaar-street
where things lay spread like
the Sea
Even after going beyond
the tall, strong gateway,
some sounds
come to fall in the ears.

Leaving the light of the
outer corridor
where voices of the world
have faded a little
Going into the
semi-darkness of the
our ancestors’ voices
softly whisper secrets
in our ears.

After entering into the
wholesome darkness of
the sanctum-sanctorium
there comes from within
a dark, colourful silence
outside, upon things
in absolute quietitude
as the very light
when it reflects
At some times
I feel
that you are with me
with hands resting on the
lap, right in front of my
A song springs from Veena
on its own.

While talking with my friends,
from out of blue
your voice drops a sentence.

Though it seems familiar
yet, wonder and surprise
have never withered away
in our Togetherness.



Shouldn’t I write about this
that is stationed in front of me?
In this office, in the cabin
at the fourth floor
in the narrow end of a corner
It would be waiting
not moving anywhere.
In the hurry-burry of the morning
starting from home,
clinging on to the electric train
reaching and falling with a
thud, before this,
the heart would turn terribly restive.
‘Enough to feel it with my hand
It would enquire after my welfare soothingly,
A loving brother in spirit…
Ever encouraging companion…’
-nothing of the sort,
a mere metallic helper
who receives white-sheets
and writes letter after letter
on them.
If the concentration is lost even
for a moment
typing all wrong, it would so
caution you
and mock at the stupid expression
that has come to sprout on
your countenance.
The officer would call inside.
Here, it would share with me
all his ‘hues and cries’.
Can anyone decipher
this typewriter?
Wherefrom it has got the
boon of
reflecting my smile day after day?

3) A.AMIRTHARAJ( Thurian Gosh Preethi)

The Rain and the Thorn

That all the raindrops on
the leaves
taste sweet-
said the butterfly
to the thorny tree.
Well, I shouldn’t leave you’
-thought the chameleon
on a thorn, atop.

The ants on the ground
overheard it.

“The fire in the sacred hole
has brought forth the rain”
-said a voice from the mountain.

Wind came and carried above
as offerings, sweet in leaves.

Tying all available thorns
ants in rows
tried to drag the rain
to ant-hills.

The chameleon in its dream
cooked the butterfly that has
and ate it to its heart’s content.

When the butterfly came down
once again
to continue its penance
the thorny tree quivered
in ecstasy.


He who is resting in the shade of the corner-tree

In an effort to learn
wearing the shirt
and proceeding till the end of the street
I think -
‘The final point of Time is my existence’.
It might be true.

Sitting at the street-corner I think
henceforth, am I to return or move ahead ?
In the stone-pillar the evidence of someone.
I see it.
Some poems lie scattered everywhere.
This could be mine.

In whose place do I stand now?
Losing something and gaining something
I have got stuck in the middle.
Unable to set forth in search of my
daily-bread, I am resting here in the shade
of the corner-tree.
This might be permanent.

Entering my hand into the empty pocket
I remain there.
Sighs have become submerged in the air.
My next step lies ahead of me.
Further, what have I learnt…
The shape of He who sees the scattered Poems,
And, the last words for the existence of
the final moment of Time.
Could be that there might lie in these
My identity of sort.



You refuse everything I ask”
-said my wife.
Thinking that if I were to say
“Of course”
What she has said would gain validity
“Of course not”, said I.


Ere The Bulbs Commit Suicide

Both legs inside water
The Sea lay all bitter
It would try moving its wings
Seeing a treasure in the mire
In its anguish, oil grease
Loads of weight would make shoulder groan
Rockets would receive daily-wage
Some day eyes would turn misty
Voice would crack and break
Hired mercenaries day in and day out
Money won’t suffice. Ear won’t hear
Eyes wide-opened, the dye would die
The battalion went on spreading
The News.
The pains obtained so cheap
Were two
He who gave it for sale, unmindful of
Even his household corpses
In the electricity of nuclear rays
On the razor edge of Kali’s tongue
In South
Let’s give light
Ere the bulbs commit suicide.


My Poem

Sitting at the window seat
in an Express bus
with eyes closed
in the company of those
happily wandering across the Sky,
atop mountains
in the realm of clouds
in the glaciers -
My journey.
“Tell me your poem”,
A voice jerked me.
When I turned,
an empty seat.

feeling apprehensive
I started telling my Poem.
in the roaring noise
of the vehicles speeding
right in front of me
my fumbling words
dissolved without a trace


i/ How to approach a
if we are to stand so close
its fingernail would hold an umbrella.
the tail and the head would be
somewhere, miles apart.
If we see from its back
its abdomen and organ
would be deep down, in an
From ears, the toes would
be faraway, defying our eyes.
How to approach a
by making it approach us.


The wind has never come across
a still tree.
The butterflies that float
to and fro in the air
carry the forest in their feet
and wander.
In the open space
a shepherd
is grazing
the distant clouds
the wagons on the road
and also, some sheep.



There were three staying in the room.

Scene – 1

With a smile that reveals
the inner peace and content
Buddha sat there.
Toward absolute-Nirvana,
Gandhi was rotating the
With blood dripping
the genius who knew
how to die and come alive
was nailing himself on
the Cross.

From outside, a lament
entered inside.
Was it late by half-a-second?
No sooner it entered
than it ran outside
but, in that split-second
the ‘voice’ had undergone
a metamorphosis
as one filled with tranquility
and sorrow.

Scene – 2

When I entered inside
“won’t you give me a cup of coffee?”
-asked Buddha.
Jesus, as the begging bowl
made of tin,
shook his heart.
Throwing a glance as
that of the listless smile
of an abandoned woman
with famished children
Gandhi went on
spinning the wheel.
Anguished by that misery
my heart, pained, and, the
voice that rose
jumped speedily through the
window, outside.
And, my voice that leapt outside
wandered all over the street
and turned into a
stinking wail.


I just held on to the place
where I chanced to sit.
I did nothing else.
But, there was hue and cry
all around.


The Past was inside me;
The Present too.
So also the Future.
Time in its totality
was housed inside me.


Some lines I gained.
Some lines slipped from my memory.
I recollected those lines that
And, the poem was born.



The Death of a Sparrow

I have killed
one of the voices of Morning
in the midnight of yesterday.
Using as weapon the bound note
weighing heavy
in which I have scribbled poems
when I hit it
screaming in a human voice
it turned still.
In the darkness,
beating its wings,
scratching me with its thin metallic feet,
scratching the children who were sleeping
under the sheets
when it tried to fly
probing in the dark
I hit it hard.

Today’s Morn
turned restive
losing one of the instruments
in its chorus-song.


Hens and baskets

Floods and famine
came and gone the same day
in the relief channel.

On both sides of the road
The road, which for all these
lay there like the shirt of
the ‘boom-boom’ cow-wallah,
where the buses used to
go bumping,
has turned ‘flat and even’ today.

On the last night
pot and plate entered the fray.
‘Whatever be the case
pot is pot’- thought the people
and chose it.
They made the same choice the
next day too.

The hens that hatched eggs
crowed long and calmed down.
Silence prevailed along the
entire stretch of the road
where ‘dhotis’ with borders
are yet to
move and flutter.

Till voting, the luxury of
Till hatching, inside the
basket, the hen.

seeking relief
the hens would go on laying
baskets would keep on coming
to cover them,
as an endless sequence.



The world would come to a
close one day-
The next morn
Mother would get up,
as usual,
before everyone else’
light the stove,
boil water,
grind the coffee seeds
with a finesse,
and, balancing the coffee-cups
in her hand
She would endeavour
to make us rise from bed.



My ‘tongue’ has turned

My voice so full of
gets dried u so soon.

All my movements with
no lubrication
turn stiff and
cry hoarse.
Amidst the unbearable discordant
reasons to live become scarce.

Only the struggle to cross
the waterless Vaigai river-



At that Moment

The moment when
the body weighing heavy
the heart turning weak
Death surfaces
right in front of my eyes-
Words uttered so far
turn meaningless.

The familiar faces too
would become strange.

“In the power of that Great
Grand Force that had been
guiding so far
you would turn frozen.
After that
I will coin many a new word
exclusively for you.
And demonstrations too
I would do for you.

Not to prove different
from the ways of the world,
but, to stay deep-rooted
in the ever vigilant consciousness”
-so said the voice from above.

I turned like a float
that appeared swaying
in the vast expanse of
the Sea.

“Don’t you have faith
even in the waves?”, it said.
“Not just the waves-
a deadly storm might come,
alien lands aplenty
might be revealed”, said I.

‘Let all that befall you”-
said it and disappeared.


Good Men and Brave Ones

God has eyes : He likes a lot
the good men and the brave ones.
Not leaving the brave ones
to languish for long in War,
nor the good men
in times of Peace,
He would call them back soon.
Indeed God has eyes. Sure.
No lies!


Distant Relatives

Away from the city
stands my house.
Sharp at 6 in the morning
the milk-man arrives at
my door.
The vegetable vendor, at
7 0’ clock, without fail.
Boarding the bus my wife
takes our children to School.
To reach my office
I change buses twice.
Every now and then
Exhibition, Art-Exhibition
Beach, Cinema –
Everything is there.
The households of our kith and kin are
in the centre of the city.
When we contemplate on going there
the distance looms large.
They too think that
our house stands far away
from the city.


In the rectangular table
that which have been read and
lie scattered.
I remain deranged.
I arrange
all those that lie scattered,
in neat rows
at the left-hand corner.
I am one who strives for some order.

Disarray with no effort,
And, despite real endeavour
just a semblance of Order
- so the whole surface of the table,
except the left side,
emphasized Dust.
I heed to dusty words.



In the pool of blood brought forth
with no swirl of the sword
the west would have a dip

In the sway of the boat
that proceeds to catch the Sun
the acute sharpness of a

As the shine of scattered diamond
the baby-fish would be
flashing here and
there .

As a flower bloomed
on rock, the foam.

In the anguish of the water
that keeps throwing sand and cursing,
the land would experience

In the incessant call of the waves
Eras would be torn.

As the scream of the drum
that bangs the ears-
Life’s Music.

In the high-pitch of the
erect thumb
the Call of Challenge



The ‘self’ is aflame with the tongues of fire leaping.
Eyes too are on fire.
the heart alone stays cool.
With blue and green entwining and blending,
the smell of Yellow, in between.
In front of the Sun, with eyes closed
the feeling that the heart would experience
is too pale a red.
Everywhere the red-cotton would be spread.
The feet would submerge in a half-foot softness.
On both sides creepers, golden-stalk, golden leaves,
with no stairs, nor suffocation of breath
climbing on and on, an ascent sans weariness,
Fragrance numerous, multiplying,
the heart growing peaceful as like
being inside water – Early Morn.
The midday with the Sun right above your head
would sound cool, calm and composed
with all the noises subsided.
Inside the closed eyes criss-cross lines,
and their dots
emitting an instant shine here and there
and fading,
going past many a layer and storey
and arrived at -
A Vacuum
Or, a Life Wholesome?


I come and stand outside to give the news.
But the river flows on, roaring in the dark.
The bridge, unending.
The bamboo-fence blocks the passage.
The man who keeps vigil goes on snoring at the
doors of the liquor-shop.
The filth and dirt collected over many a decade
turning monstrous in size,
as a giant container, weighs heavy on our back.
“Let’s keep it down”, you say,
but, the platform of stone by the road-side
is not to be seen.
When I wake the city up to give away the news
which I have brought along, with all my weariness,
journeying for days at a stretch,
the sleepy ones, semi-conscious,
get up and ask me “Oh, why do you trouble me?”
and plunge into the depth of sleep, once again.
Oh, the burden proves unbearable…
I should lose the weight..
If I am not to lose it before dawn,
in the broad day-light what would ‘Those Four’ say….
To leave it, that which I have saved all these days
with love and sweat, in the river,
the oozing darkness is terrifying.
To sell it, there is none to buy.
To donate it, none qualified enough, around.
At day-break the curtain would go up.
And I can reach the town and try something.
Now, in the anguish of the night,
Turning into a ‘donkey of the desert’
I stand in penance, awaiting the Dawn.



When the boys
gather in our local playground
and fly kite
I would be in a corner
To make it interesting
the boys would divide themselves
into two groups and play.
With the groups coming into being
the game would turn intense
making me observe, fully focused.
When they fly high the kite,
with the thread changing hands,
The joy that clings on to
the hand that holds the
would fill me with wonder and awe.
Yet, I would murmur to myself
that kite would rise above
but never revolve.


The square

My legs would practice walking,
inside this Square, in bitterness.
This Square is mine.
Unfortunately, its surrounding walls
are common to three.
Running along the street,
standing nude in front of all,
can hug, weep, kick or spit.
My heart’s legs that were
for the sake of earning the daily-bread,
have been attacked by paralyses
beneath the attire.
My ‘inside’ would scream for suicide.
The fingers disappearing,
and. in the cow-dung that pours down
plunging, as horns , then, raising,
presenting as poem
as poem
in the Square
Sky as big as the Square
for me, with the Square.


The Thief

On the night when the thief’s house turned to rubbles
we realized
that it had fallen on our very sleep.
Thick smoke enveloped the area.
The wind swirled and threw dust and mud from the fields.
In the midnight, terribly unsettled,
with silence and darkness shrouding
we stepped down into the street.

The thief turned out to be our brother.
The thief, ostracized, in rags, dirty,
wandered on, along the roads.
Piercing through our conscience
and sense of righteousness
He went.
From his eyes so artistic and delicate
sarcasm and laughter were seeping forever.
As the shadow of our fear,
obscurity of our guilty feeling, stood he.

In the vast Land he, the gullible thief,
was there in us.
With great care and caution,
in our interaction with Law and the enforcing authorities
on the back of our fear we wrote and hung
Humility, Obedience, Respect, Reverence.

The colour and countenance of the thief were
telecast in the National Channel.
The root -cause of the robbery was announced
in all arrogance.
Further, the term ‘theft’ was dropped on us,

We realized
that the deed the word denote
was being revealed to us in the reverse.
In a sort of ignorance
the letter and the word lay all over that day

On the night
when the Thief’s house turned to rubbles
we realized that thick smoke enveloped the area.
Also that
the wind made a U turn
and blew from South to North.


The Crow and the Sparrow are but our Kith and Kin’ – An Epic
(excerpts from this long poem)

I have seen;

Crow, sparrow, cock, vulture, pigeon, stork, duck, ‘maina’, ‘garuda’, peacock, woodpecker, kingfisher, ‘akkaakurivi’ – so, many a bird I have seen.

Wherever you go, the troubles with these crows multiply like a festive-flood! The wagon of Lord ‘Saneeswara’; a story about this; that it had pecked at the boob of Seetha Piraati(?). Before sitting down to eat mother would offer it a handful of food well-mixed with ghee and cooked cereals, in all kindness; when I was young I had listened to my elders crying ‘kaa…kaa..kaa…kaaa.’ to appease our dead ancestors; the crow will crow kaa..kaa.. and so eat. A black dot that keeps going round and round in the circle of my mind – kaa..kaa..kaa…

Sparrow – small, little sparrow; fluttering its baby wings, moving as a toddler in small jerky steps on the ground – and suddenly leaping up in a little jump – a small sparrow; having a silky wheat colour – I don’t remember much about it except the words of Bharathi who had declared that ‘the crow and the sparrow are but our kith and kin’.

a feeling leapt of a
“here, see me”
So, to let others realize
who I am went

Villupuram, Trichirapalli, Great Heights of the Blue Sky, Perumal Temple –these alone.


as Garuda

In the height
of my heart
they go round and round

Cock; white cock with red tuft. That go calling ‘kokkarakkoeoe…; it will lay and hatch eggs( it is not easy to sit so, so still and almost drowning in its own self). Its legs, so full of crumples, its fleshy beard.

There is a word in Tamil – ‘Kozithooval;
‘Vaaranam’ – so an expression.

Have you
seen, pigeon?
in different varieties
as beautiful crow
loved by one and all
the pigeon- have you seen
Kannamma, my love?
so what?

With a man sitting in a room where the electric-fan keeps rotating, having tied in a red-string with trivial changes and exchanges as like the pigeon-nest, at the doorway corpses-like men stand in rows.

But, in the vast space of the mosque these pigeons, like my darling Suseela ,turn me ecstatic.

Stork (Naarai)

‘Naaraai Naaraai Senkaal Naaraai’,; the old Pisiraanthaiyar verse; we have come a long way from his place; a grey-haired bird ( veteran bandicoot) wearing a collarless shirt would be sitting in penance in the office.

The Stork – taking stock

In the river that goes running if a fish were to leap the water-bird would jump and rise.

In different ways
as coins and notes
with bitterness
crushing and crumpling
my beggar-heart
by little

Have I calmed down this water-bird. It is in that, that in the ‘Siva Naamaavali his name is Samharamoorthy oh, how I revel, Suseela.

Water-bird, a water-bird
Pecking at a fish
eat meat

Duck, oh duck, aren’t you going to buy ducks? – the egg of the duck is twice the size of the egg of the hen – oh sir, your face tells me that you are suffering from piles.

Boiling the duck-egg
mixing ‘aathikeerai’ with that
and duly cooking it
“Oh, no, leave me”
so your ailment would leave you
For ever

When I was young, I think it was in Saidapet, these ducks would go in groups, a row dwarf shapes, looking repulsive. Seeing them walking with an ugly gait, oh, Suseela, my goddess of lust, the angel of my heart

oh, how happy I am
can I ever tell it in words
can it ever be told?

if I call ‘mainaa,oh, mainaa”
will the bird ‘maina’ come?

A real ‘maina’ is twice the size of a sparrow; the black of brown; brownish black is its skin; there will be yellow lines glowing round its eyes. If it raises its wings – a magnificent white.

seeing the way it
goes around the green lawns
in small steps -
oh, my Susee girl

oh, my Rose
that too,
like you,
the very personification of Beauty,

The peacock’s body is bluish-black.; blackish-blue.
Its throat, the length of a snake; when it spreads its ‘tokai’ there are thousands of eyes like vagina. During rainy season if one is to see its dance that would be a real treat to the eyes; then, it would turn the God of the Festival. There is a song ‘mayil aada, kuyil paada’

that is a bird as tall as man
seeing it
I get the feeling that you are walking ahead and

do you remember that old song?

He is
hitting hard
my brother Soorapadhuman
splitting apart
the face
Which face was it…?

My love, please come. In this twentieth Century there are numerous occasions when you and me have to eat the peacock meat.


a plea

When the voice is still sweet
stop singing.
Ere the finger swells
sell the Veena.
Before the pearls scatter
untie the anklets.
Before falling ill
let the last journey begin.



The child laughed, clapping his
feeling happy that he had
turned me into an April Fool!
On the road
while taking him to the School
pointing at the shadow of the feet
“Daddy- mongoose”, said he.
Indeed yes,
the real serpentine
and the illusory mongoose
are forever engaged in a duel!



To say it in general
everything has become comprehensible
To be specific
that which is to be done
has become comprehensible.
Comprehensible not to me.
I merely perform.
The divine voice from above also
that I am born for just this.
Not only that
this is what I too wish.
I am going to shake hands
with those that
keep waiting.


Yesterday’s Dream

In my dream of Yesterday
the bridge broke to pieces.
Sweating for days at a stretch
breaking stones
burning in the Sun
with none to care and share
weeping all alone
in pain and anguish
that bridge which I had built
step by step
inch by inch
broke into pieces
in my dream of Yesterday.
I have no time left
to rebuild it.
If there be no time
there can be no dream.
Without dream
where is progress?
A heart that has understood my dream
would build it
in the dream of its own.



For me who returns in a cycle
along the overcrowded roads
-no need for a car-ride.

Among those numerous houses
in the posh area, immaculate
as a sketch, none bears
my name-board.

I never ask those who come
all the way searching, to see
me – “Coffee or Tea?”

In the T.V bought not
those that I have left unseen
are not Olympic Games alone.

My family and myself never
go traveling to
Countries and Islands.

Not for employment, even for Higher Studies
my children don’t go abroad.
If there be Nuclear hazards
in Kalpakkam or Kudankulam
I cannot leave my country
nor town.
If something befalls
I have no means to go to
Apollo or America for treatment.

Enough if,
with the back aching, the
tongue tasting bitter
the virus fever that seems to
depart without causing
any additional expenses!

“Listening to all
“Don’t yearn” say thee. Why not tell it in other words:
“Don’t be human”.


In the stretching shadow
of this tree
a resting traveler I am
The desire to uproot this tree
that listens to me
and plant it in the courtyard
of my home
lingers in me.
After my home too had turned a mere pathway
the heart would yearn
for another roof too.


Seven Poems

1/ *Pichai’s food
would refuse to move on
inside my stomach.

2/ The glow falling on
Pichai’s empty bowl
would scatter particles of
With the drops of rain falling on it
symphony would spring alright.

3/ The ugly Pichai of Thursdays
prove a sore to the eyes.
Yet, in pairs,

4/ Piercing even the light and
The song of Pichai.

5/ Government Holiday
empty bus-stand
Pichai alone
working overtime.

6/ Oh, my saviours, my
Guardian angels-
it’s three days since
I ate last.
Please give me something
even your worst sorrow
would leave like dew, tomorrow
Oh, come as the rain
to my rescue
Oh, kind Sirs, oh
kind-hearted sisters.

7/ Pichai, the Omnipresent
bears proof
to God, the Omniscient.

*Pichai – the beggar.


Unmindful of everything
Driven by the frenzy of
realizing an ideal life

Dissolving my youth
did I draw a painting

and came to
gift it to you

not knowing that
You had already been gifted away to


High Tide

Come Touch and Go-
some waves.
Some others
would topple you all of a sudden
Some wave should swallow me
Lock, Stock and Barrel!
Oh well,
atop the waves that whirled and swirled
in a frightening frenzy,
gushing forth all foamy,
curling, leaping, lashing and folding
He who remained without tumbling down –
in my heart a precious corner he owns!


There was a room for Us

In the Ashram Street there was a room for us.
It was a very small cabin, hanging suspended
unable to get connected to anything in the city
and floating above the ceilings.

Amidst the smokes of
Charminar, Gold Flakes, Wills Filter, ‘Sayyadhu Beedis’
Faces speaking different things in different tones
conversations, sharing of ideas, debates,
cutting into slices, we analyzed Life.

At times the cabin would shift
and assemble in the Gandhi playground
Suburban Road, Bridge-Wall, Kadiresan Mountain
Tea-shop corners, petty-shop corners
wherever, the never-ending conversations,
Dragging along the worries of the World
Our room wandered

Manufacturing innumerable tools( in our heads)
to reconstruct Humanity
we let them fly all over the city.
We relished to our hearts’ content the unconditional freedom
that the walls of our room used to offer Us.

We ate and slept as suited our whims and fancies
Gulped Tea everywhere
That one gave money, this one bought cigarettes,
We smoked almost always
With a trimmed beard and a half-smile
one brought the bottles
All sorts of eatables came in parcels.
In a drunken-state
we comprehended everything all too clearly
In the room’s air we mixed our sighs
and souls too.

As friends multiplied, one on the mat, three on floor,
two in chairs, two on the stairs
one on the newspaper -
So we lay in chaos
and slept so peacefully.

We who, leaving the room, have built Family,
keep struggling, not being able to connect the
Home with the Room.


News –One

A news arrived at my side
as like a flying plate
so casually thrown
floating softly.

In the morn it entered inside
through the gap beneath the door
in the form of a white-sheet
with black letters creeping.

While walking in the street
the posters told news
Those who walk, those who stand
those who chanced to come across
at close quarters
Those whom I’ve met
keep uttering the news of Today.
The news of yesterday
as like the sound of the
foot-steps of one who
has disappeared from our sight.

News -Two

News swallowed news.
He who stood there
with yesterday’s news digested
is swallowed by Today’s news.
With news surrounding, getting inside as virus
with the air inhaled
they wandered
in the organs as
numerous ailments
And the breath so exhaled
emitted poisonous news
With ears and eyes getting
filled up with news
the News of Today
are being swallowed by
the news of Now
After all those that are
all swallowed and digested
the lone news that which
remains is
that which got stuck
in the throat
Terrifying in the
News of Tomorrow
that lie scattered
in Today’s News.

News – Three

He tells a News about
Someone to
Someone else
Forgetting that it is but
News about his
Own Self too.

37) SHA –A

The huge wave that
touched the shore
returned to the Sea
and lost its shape.
Before it lost its identity
it touched the feet
and the heart turned wet.

When the feet felt
the waves
the sand on the shore too
got stuck
Though the displacement of the sand
was caused by the waves
the itch of the sand-particles
all over the feet
was indeed not by them, was it?

The huge wave
that returned
to the Sea
remains the Sea
The Sea
many a wave
that reach the Shore.

(In memory of Ka.Naa.Su)


I saw a spider-
neither on the wall
nor on the floor,
but that which keeps going
round and round
as a dark swirl
in the ‘Pooja’ room,
on the silver-plate,
beside the glowing ‘kuthu vilakku’,
on the white ‘kolam’ ,
right in the middle of its ‘lotus’.
Day in and day out
it remained there
at all those times when the
lamp would be lit,
This Spider would remind me of
Your wonders and miracles,
and of the temple at Kalahasthi.
Today, when I was about to
light the lamp
I saw the spider there, motionless.
I felt You have given
The Great Release’ to the little creature
which lived for a few days,
finding shelter at your feet.
But, why should my heart
keep on thinking of its
feet in motion-
always on the move…?
Though the tale of the spider
has come to an end
the spider-web that my heart
keeps spinning -
oh, how to name it, well,
who could tell…?


The Suffocation of Evolution

“Don’t cry! Don’t you dare cry!’
-so mother stifled me.
Fearing the dreadful teacher
who swung his rod
so close to my face and hissed “sh…sh..”

The wind that blew up in my cheeks
was inhaled within so rapidly
it went right up to my heart,
wrenched, in the classroom.

Having to hear the stupid sentence
that men never cry
and spending the years shying away
from tears –
grown up dumb.

My first wail, heard at my birth
which made my kith and kin
sing and dance in sheer mirth
That was the full-stop of my
previous birth.

Today I long to cry
I should cry… before I die
I should cry for something
no matter what
For something near and far

Till the heart’s ebbs and falls subside
Till desire dies
I should cry
Boiling as a volcano
trembling violently like a tornado-tree
as a wholesome downpour
It should happen to me so
casually, so naturally.

For the wars of tomorrow-
For the bugs that bite us hard-
For life’s inherent pathos-
For the few coins lost-
no matter for what, for something
is all I care.

For the meanness of the man
next door, or
for the political jokers-
no matter for what-
I should cry for something

Till my inner being finds answer
to the query ‘why so?’
till, encountering the real supreme glory
of the great tragedy,
in a lightning flash I turn everlasting
till my tears and myself go
melting beyond all meanings
I should cry
Before I die.



Why did you set out?
to tell a borrowed tale
No need to waste
your poetic talents.
Why Epic?
Are you an imitation
of Kalidasa?
For, how long this service to
Virgin Tamil…


Poetry for
preaching Virtue.
Controversies aplenty.


He glorifies Kannagi;
Merely mentions Madhavi;
What for the left boob
to be severed and
thrown away?


A moustache-man
A turban-wallah
What reverence and adoration
for those musical verses…
What connection is there
Between Ganja and Poesy?



In the courtyard of the Palace
and in hutment -
The spider-web.

In too delicate a body
with light wings,
tiny insects.

Whether the courtyard is vast,
the hutment small -
everything is the same for the

Caught in the cruel act of
tearing off the wing,
folding the body
and sucking life -
noiselessly, the insects.

As the big fat bees
leap whirring
and sabotage the web
the spider would fall.

And, it would spin web
for the insects.


Collectively – Individually

Those who were together
The food of one at one corner
was eaten by another
The place of ‘He’ in one end
Came to be occupied by another.
Small crowds came to be.
“Come alone, come alone”Individuals – so one
“Come-join here, join this way”-
so also another called.
With no confusion whatsoever they operated
Those who were in crowds separated
in crowds
fresh calls came to be.
Those who began being lone individuals
have now become huge crowds.
Those who began to live in communion
have now turned lone individuals .


Some more houses

Like the new print of an old picture
some days before
a few houses in our place were renovated.
A little earlier to that
Electricity had come to the ‘agraharam’ houses.
As far as I know
the tar-roads were laid long ago.
The white-men introducing the train, and the advent of new,
hitherto unknown ailments
are all yet more ancient tales.
In the nights,
those days
are recollected by our grandmas,
as far as their memory goes.
Sitting with their legs stretched
they say that the very face of our place
is changed.
In between
murmuring the bygone days of still earlier times
there remain in our place
some more houses
safely locked.


krishna said...
wonderful..., i had been longing to see them translated, wish you all the best and a wonderful, wonderful work.
August 24, 2009 9:57 PM

BKM said...
THanks Latha for tanslating my father's poem ( kashyapan)
April 11, 2010 10:12 PM

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