Sunday, May 30, 2010

remembrance - sathara malathy's poems in english

Posted by latha ramakrishnan at 12:28 AM
Thursday, February 12, 2009
remembrance – Sathara Malathy's poems -20 rendered in english by latha ramakrishnan

Selected poems of 'sathara' malathy (Tamil)rendered in english bylatha ramakrishnanemail : ramakrishnanlatha@yahoo.compublished by ‘anaamikaa alphabets(first edition dec.2007)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On 'sathara' malathy (19.6.1950 - 27.3.2007)

Born on the 19th of june 1950 she was a post-graduate from Presidency College, Chennai. Hailing from a place called Brammadesam near Ambasamudhram in Thirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu, she had her School and College Education in Chennai.She worked for BSNL as Chief Accounts Officer and in the last several years of her career before she got a transfer to Bangalore and subsequently opted for Voluntary Retirement, she was posted in a place called Sathara in Maharashtra. The name of the place was prefixed to her name to distinguish her from a fellow-poet with the same name. Thus, Sathara is not just a prefix, it plays an integral part of her identity as a poet and hence it proved to be in bad taste when a literary magazine so coolly prefixed Bangalore as the prefix instead of Sathara in its brief note condoling her death. Such move can well be regarded as an attempt to erase the identity of the departed poet‘Sathara’ Malathy. But, her poems would surely preserve her memory in the hearts of discerning readers like me.

A passionate reader and a very sensitive human being she was, one can find in her Poetry the marvelous blend of the two quotable quotes – ‘Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions’ and ‘Poetry is emotions recollected in tranquility’. Her poems reveal her passionate heart and its unanswered queries and unfulfilled dreams and they belong to one and all of us. She had experimented with various styles and tones in writing Poetry, using classical Tamil, folk-language etc. She took part in literary seminars and discussions with genuine interest and her Papers would always be balanced and analytical, avoiding overtones.

Three collections of poems – VARIKUTHIRAIGAL ( the zebras) , THANAL KODI POOKAL( fire-plant flowers), MARAMALLIGAIGAL ( a kind of trophical flowers) – one short-story collection – ANAMADHEYA KARAIGAL (anonymous shores) – one Anthology of essays on the renowned Tamil Classic Andaal Thirupaavai, analyzing the underlying theme of the verses with a rare sensibility and sensitivity, UYARPAAVAI - of Sathara Malathy have so far been published.It was from the 90s that 'sathara' malathy's tryst with the little magazines or literary magazines of Tamil began in right earnest. Sathara Malathy's poems, and her numerous analytical articles on poetry and other branches of literature prove her credentials as a writer with substance.

She had a passion for knowing people and interacting with them and she used to have regular telephonic contacts with many fellow-writers. She had great liing for the complexity and depth of poet Brammarajan's verses and she held in high esteem fellow-writers Pa.Venkatesan ( a poet , novelist and short-story writer in Tamil), Amarantha ( a reputed writer and translator in Tamil) , A.Muthulingam ( again, a reputed writer in Tamil) and several others.

Her deep love for Tamil and her firm grasp of its numerous shades and nuances are evident in her writings. She had firm feministic leanings but she never steered them toward acquiring anti-man syndrome. She had great love and respect for her mother (who herself was a poignant reader and writer whose two short-story collections have been published in the last several years) and she had penned a poignant poem on her mother which is included in the 'Maramalligaigal' collection.

Her husband, mother and only daughter are living in Bangalore. And, I am sure, there would be many more of her writings left unpublished.I have met her just twice or thrice but she used to talk to me regularly over the phone, reading out her fresh poems. On the few occasions we had met, I remember her speaking on a variety of issues. I like the intense passion in her poems which would produce a melting within. She had an in-depth knowledge of great Classics both in Tamil and Sanskrit. That’s why she used to feel sad when haughty and prejudiced comments were aimed at great works. Once, when I told her that I would arrange for a small gathering in Chennai which would be a discussion on her poetry, she was reluctant to accept it saying that it would hurt us if our poems so close to our hearts would be half-heartedly dealt with, and, worse, from a pedestal. As I am aware of the truth of what she had said, I left it at that.

A friendly soul, so full of Whys, Hows and Whats of Life, Sathara Malathy is sure to live on, defying Death, with the help of her intense Poesy. A handful of her Poems are rendered in English by me and compiled into a thin volume titled ‘remembrance’ as a token of my love and respect for her. The respective original poems in Tamil are also given, to give the readers a feel of the poet and person she was.

So long, ‘sathara’ malathy….

* Poems from the volume ‘remembrance’ comprising 20 poems, of ‘sathara ‘malathy and some passages from her foreword to one of her poem-collections giving her impressions on Poetry, in my english translation, are given here.
Poetry is…

‘sathara’ malathy

Poetry is not a diary, nor the pages of an autobiography. It is not made of ‘I’ s. Not all of a poem are real; nor are they mere fantasy. Poems are not decorated with cleverness and strategies; nor are they made sacred with dirt. For me, Poetry is Truth; Truth told in the best possible manner. Hiding mine as other’s, this one’s as that one’s, yet, a Truth which comes into the open, no matter however hard one would try to hide it. A poem without this Truth can only be superficial, with no real substance.
I don’t believe even that claim that a poem reflects the poet. For, I know my poems have never been able to reflect even a portion of my anguish, pleasure or convictions. This I know with due embarrassment.Very rarely others nurture a healthy attitude toward opposing views. But, I keep trying.As I understand, in Poetry the life of a human is lived through its heart, with the body renounced. I do believe that ‘poetic instinct’ springs and overflows in the heart and that it begins and ends there.

In the communion and lovemaking that happens through Poetry, all sorts of coarseness and vulgarity finding no room, something angel-like sprouts and it brings all the worlds under its feet, kicking and crushing them. Such visions I keep getting.

And, these visions give me great pleasure and comfort. I make it a point to din into the angel all the din and noise of my ongoing anguishes. But, the angel being an angel, stages along with its dance, a response to that, and, another one in reflection too.

I float and melt in the clouds of Poesy as small little clusters of cotton.I cry in poems. It smiles and laughs brightly, applying all strategies of laughter, turning me ecstatic. I rage in anger. But, even that which emits fire brings back to my memory various men and women, turning me joyous.

That is Poetry. It gains acceptance with the strength of moods and emotions. Not with the lines. Stirring my magical heart I bring about some chemical compositions in several lines. Those hours of poetry writing and reading make me drench in a pleasurable downpour. In the heaven of the poet no one who is obsessed with possessions has a place!

1) Lovers

They meet onValentine’s DayThose no lovers _

as inwedding days

Lovers don’t meet.They Be.

When all drenched in fire and break apart

They Be.

For mutual giftsthey have noWorlds.

When gifts happenWorlds don’t have them.

Yes.Gods too are loverslike Spirits

2) The Duel

Banging against thestone of languagerepeatedly

I voiced my woes.

The Tongue remained unstirred.

Cold War.

And, banging againstmy heart again and again it gained entry

as Poetry

3) The Three Divisions of Time

Seeping into Yesterday,I,

not flowing inToday

froze in ‘day before yesterday

’having no time to melt.

The minutes arebut veritable milestones.

In the wind of sorrow

bounced and battered

the poem that melts,

so moved,

in the darkness ofmy tongue

would gain its voice from the light

youwould give tomorrow

with the word having gone dead

climbing the wall andmoving ahead.

4) Need

Just like ‘parrot-hunger

Suffice if there areFruits of Syllables.

Why can’t you sayAt once ?

That it’s sickening!

Swallowing atrociousDelays

I can’t satiateMy hunger.

5) This is No Response

I have no response toyour letter.

Tears can never be written

in a piece of paper.

My problem is that

I wished to get back theLoan

that I had given elsewhere,f

rom You.

My failure is that

I was born dead.

For those share of my heart

that have suffered loss

let’s pay homage.

If only time would block

My ebbs and flows

from reaching your shores

my thanks will be million and more.

6) Resolutions

In night,

light of seven hueswere resolved.
Flooding waters were resolved

by the reservoirs.

Space resolved the planets.

Liquids resolved the solid Substances.

And the soothing comforts listed below

were resolved by separations:

Memories by forgetfulness,

Gods, by suspicions,

Trees, by silent seeds,

Deaths, by relationships.

That which resolves the battles with you

is my love.

And empty worlds

will be resolved byyour and my ‘moving apart’ .


Applying the mill-smoke upon

the tobacco-bed

with a plastic garland

we made you lie down.I

ndeed we have kept your breathall

too safely

in Carbon Monoxide.

Oh, Nature!

Please don’t rot and die.

Oh, please don’t search for your

ground water-jar!

Your grandsons are playing with it.

Destroying your vast forest

we’ve placed multi- storied structure.

Oh, don’t keep it in mind!

“Are we going to carry it along

when we undertake our final journey…?

_ this question we can’t ask of you.

For, you might do just that.

Already Ozone Will has impediments aplenty.

When you called out to bless

our beloved Jacob was not sent.

For consanguinity we have felled the Jacobean Tree.

Covering with sheep-skin,

we brought ‘concrete cousin

to stand in front of you.

Oh, Nature!,

please don’t rot and die!

Please give us a little more time.

Let’s try what best we can.

The reason being,

our days to come rely on your Will indeed!

8) Sathara

As like a fortress,

the mountains…

as if something preciousis strewn deep down

_ Sathara.

Peeping with unsatiated desire

at the bubbling river

a cluster of cloudson mountain-shoulder.

Concealing stealthily

its glowing red ‘person’

the Sunny baby of Dawn

would surface.

Would give life Everyday.

Would give ‘Message of Hope’for Peace

and to feel at Ease.

9) Request
It’s you who complete

a significant portion of my poems

with your facials and

figments of Imagination

just like those reviews

reserved for me.

While going past

lanes of sorrow

running or creeping

seeing sign-boardsof your shopsi

n alien language

I turn terror-stricken.

I never knew other tongues.

I don’t even rarely

hold your hand

and show you

thedarknesses familiar to eyes.

Then, where lies the array of fire-stones

for light in me?

Let us dwell in the Land of Love only


10) Wars?

There will be no need forthe name of ‘Father-Land’

to thosewho are the tattered remains

of Warfare.

Henceforth there need beno reason

for them to loathe

and explode

and to batter,

as if it is some form of deep prayer.

For evaluating and respecting

the strengths and values of Life

with not just the scales of War

the need for classrooms

would rise.

That too would be buried in sands,

thanks to our terrible Curriculam.

In wounds, blindness

mental aberrations

and other handicaps

can there be any day

when the relevance and significance

of success and failure

would be apprehended?

Or wrongs be set right?

Pain alone would remain

deepening, accumulating

in the lakes of Humanity

as dregs,


Oh, leave it.

For women

no need to spend onValentine’s Day,

Anniversariesand Feasts.


we save our homes

from Fathers’ Day!and our country from

National Celebrations?

Claiming to sow the seeds ofLove and Justice

but having buried them indeed.

From now on,

it is in Warfare

lies our Welfare.

11) life ?

We are sculptors

who strive to create the rock

with pains.

All our houses, with wings sprouted

and flying, here and there

as walls, trails, patios

and chairs to keep waiting,

they’ve seated themselves.

Our flavours

in the hurried particles of damp bread

and in the necessity ofthe burden of weight that

blocks the throatmaking you feel strangled.

in our tongue, the query’s response always.

Or, the query to a response.

An unending ‘Daily’s structured

onheaps of regrets and misgivings,

to our opponent.

If only we can acquire ourselves,

who like not to speak nor seek

renouncing all needs,

thenwholsome satisfaction.

As, on the sand embedded with changes

and directions getting distorted withins

mashing and scattering,

our eyes have come to acquire

hundred angles.

Our mission is to reach out

in all love and

grasp our mutual well-being.

If we are to die in this,

to be born again and return

our households cannot be identified.

We are not going to die


in aching,

anguishingly living.

12) beautiful…

Oh, mountaneous breeze!


who caresses me to

relieve me of the pain of


Between You and Me

what at all is there to


“Sorrow”, said Religion.

“Indeed Ailment” said the Society.

“Obscenity” cried those

who are obscene.‘

”Alas, am I not there?”

screamed the Almighty

Within and Without

turning ‘beauty-personified’!

13) With no Umbrella, nor Wagon

Growing tired of journey

I remain in a rooflessrailway-station.

To safeguard me against the

chill downpourand accompany me home

came my ‘Security’,

taking his own time

and with no seasonal


Drenching and dripping

he walked on

guiding me also

Like Husbands.

14) The lost Day and Nights

We give all our investments

of honey-cakes made of our

sweatsin the form of Will.

Give us back ourbetter-halves

as our beloveds.

Bring innumerable Daysand Nights

that are so spontaneous

as the dryness of the‘betel-chewing’ mouths

and place them at our feet.

And we would come to

take part in your Sermon on the Mount

on women’s chastity.

15) You tell us ‘To Be’

You want us to don the

role of

Friend, Mother,Daughter,

traditional Wife

and what not…

We are Devils,

the derailed ones.


Do not conform

_When you ask your mother

To obey you like daughter,

When you tell your daughter

to confine herself

within four walls

as the mother,

When you ask your friend to metamorphose

into wife

as suits your convenience,

When you tell your wife

to be‘Mother Goddess’,

all forgiving

_We, the Devils,

the derailed ones

Do not Conform.

16) the key

That which proved elusive
despite using the all too long ladle
and probing the wellfor a long time.
On lying down all stretched
with the face upward
revealed itself very clearly
on the ceiling
inserted in the
strait of the lustrous light-glass.
If I attempt to take it
_Will the glass break?
Or, the ceiling leak?
With sunken face and grey hairs
the Key.
Searching in the open space
and getting it in a tiny
nail particle,l
it sat atop the
I told it the ‘thousand and odd’ tales of
Arabian Nights
during day-time.
Now, together with the
loss of my own self
my search for the Key too
ceased to be.
17) Humanity since Eden
Leaving the gardenwhere have we come to a stop?
With the wood moving forward
and waging War
it was but you who won.
Constructing Seas in the vacuumI froze them.
We wandered along the
we flew the kites downward
yet we were worried
for the horns growing amidst silky wings
and for the new horse-shoes
that have come to stick on
soft feet,
for the ‘closeness’ that breathed
in love turning into stench
with the mysteries leaving,
waking up from intoxication.
In twenty commands
we block out movement.
In calculations and computations
we have displaced all voices.
And, we had left those swings that go up
and down, in the garden.
My Beloved!
bless me with the boon of our
First Day of Birth!

18) a cord
Clinging to the wall of night
in a tight grip
for very many ages
the cord lay there.
Whether it remained there
liking the compound wall
and the pitch darkness
and whether it stayed on
all hungry,
alive and breathing
none cared to haveany concern.
After very many years havesped by,
in anxiety whether the
cord has metamorphosed into a snake
the toads kept going past
every now and then.
As there grew eyes for the cord
and also tears coming out of them
‘Could it be that in the cool chillness
the exclusive odour of snake
became all enhanced?’
_ so the security-guards said to each other.
19) You and I
You are the
diamond necklace
that has fallen
into my begging bowl.
The rainbow that has
surfaced on the rims.
Everlasting illumination;
a merciful ocean.You are my love’s
wholesome expansion.
Yet, it is You
whom I refuteand dispute.
20) Shadow
From way back they’ve
started seeing me with the shadow.
And, it became a must for me
to sleep with the shadow.
Dreaming with the shadow
I functioned with it.
I turned a shadow to my
In the early morn
and in the elongated evenings
the Shadow grew,
stepping on me.
In the scorching heat of the midday Sun
when I wished for it the most
I remained without the Shadow.
Then, the noon Sun came to stay on,
as something stable and permanent.
They stared at me in those parties.
“Why are you without the Shadow?”
– so my friends admonished.
“Came alone?” _ my daughter asked.
“Where is the Shadow?
bring it when you come to my house ?”,
said she.
Stationing the Sun sans Shadow
up there
my world would revolve.
For, Shadows are not real.

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