Tuesday, June 1, 2010

ROOMS -Bautha Ayyanaar's poems rendered in English

Some poems from
Rooms(mansion musings)
poems by bautha ayyanaarTranslated from Tamil by latha ramakrishnan

About the poet:-

BOUTHA AYYANAAR (1963) : He was born in a hamlet called Vinayakapuram in Therkkutheru Panchayat, in Mellur Circle, in the district of Madurai. His mother was Azhagupillai. Father – Perumal. He lost his mother at a very early age and he was brought up under the care of his grandfather and grandmother. His was the first generation of his clan to have received the benefits of Education.

His undying thirst for books made him renounce formal education. It was Poet Abi, who has carved a distinct place for himself in the field of neo-Tamil poems, who initiated Mr.Ayyanaar into the world of Neo-Tamil Literature.

Born of a poor family Poet Ayyanaar has enriched his life with the help of guidance and support from noted personalities like veteran writer Sundara Ramasami, Tamil scholars Salaman Pappaiah, Dr.Sethuraman and Dr.Vani Sundarapandian.

Ayyanaar’s poems show him as someone who has the capacity to look beyond the superficial appearances
and find out the real truths of life.

Serving in Vivekanandha Kendra proved to be a turning point in his life. He has also worked in various Institutions such as Meenakshi Mission Hospital, Kalachuvadu Litrary Monthly, Mahashemam Trust.

His works published so far include -
_ VIDUVIPPU (Release) – Poems and Interviews
Swirling Waves) - Articles on Chennai(2003).
2005, 2nd Edition 2007, December, 3rd Edition,
Word To Silence) – Interviews.

Poet Ayyanaar has also written book-reviews and also
critical essays on Neo-Cinema and Drama. He has also
several modern paintings to his credit.

Now he is working as Marketing Managern in Jananam
IVF CENTER, in Karur(Tamil Nadu).

He lives in Karur with his beloved wife Muthuppillai
and son Anandhabuthan.

His email id and mobile number are given below:

Translator’s Note:

“I have a few things to say or rather share, about Neo-Tamil Poetry and Translation in general and the poems of poet Bautha Ayyanaar in particular. Neo_Tamil Literary world is rich with writers and poets having great potentials. It has always been Small Magazines or Alternate Magazines which have contributed significantly to the language and literature of Tamil. And, there are quite a number of ‘unsung heroes’ in the field of Neo-Tamil Poetry. In style and content these poems or poets stand second to none but the reason for poets from other languages, say for instance Malayalam or Bengali, getting instant and wider recognition is that they are getting translated into English on a regular basis and there have been continuous initiatives towards introducing their poetry to a wider circle of readers. Unfortunately, such initiatives are very few and undertaken randomly in Tamil Nadu. And, nowhere else except in Tamil Nadu we have this sad state of affair whereby mostly film-lyricists get the Awards for Poetry while innovative poets like Brammarajan who have done pioneering work in the field of Poetry are steadily being sidelined and ignored. It is a shame on us, to say the least.

As for my translation of friend Ayyanaar’s poems, I am of the firm belief that however efficient and sensitive to the nuances of Poesy a translator is, he or she cannot do hundred percent justice to the original text. Especially, in the case of Neo-Tamil Poems where the poems are rich and complex with the element of obscurity and multiple meaning. Yet, I undertook this job out of my respect for Ayyanaar who is one of those who could never learn the art of ‘blowing one’s own trumpet’ and for the sheer joy of re-reading his poems and empathizing with the emotions expressed in his poetic lines.

While translating I mostly relied on my ‘Readerly Text’, and, as a co-traveller in the field of Neo-Tamil Poetry I know Poet Ayyanaar wouldn’t object to that. On several occasions when I contacted him seeking some clarifications I could see that I was able to reach as close as possible to the inner layer of meaning or the ‘spirit’ of his poem. At the same time if I were to translate these poems again I might not be using the same words; expressions. This doesn’t speak of my deficiency or lack of confidence as a translator. Instead, it highlights the dynamism of Neo-Tamil Poetry and also the Art of Translation. But, I have tried my best to be loyal to the original text, not taking undue liberties with it while translating.

I don’t believe in the contention that there should be a set of rules strictly adhered to while translating a piece of work in English and I firmly believe that the original text, coupled with the skill and sensitivity of the translator, is capable of evolving its own style of rendering in English. I hope that my translation does justice to Ayyanaar’s Poesy and is approved by him and if it does, that would make me feel good as a translator.

Reading the poems of Ayyanar one would immediately identify his or her own self in the lines. The pain and anguish of Life, the uncertainties and unpredictabilities of relationships and caught in the midst of all these, the deep sense of loneliness a sensitive soul is bound to experience , yet, the all-pervading
Love for Life which is the driving force for any genuine poet are all described vividly with the help of minimum words and apt images and similes, without resorting to melodrama or rhetoric.

Each one will have one’s own definition of a good poem. For me, a poem shouldn’t preach from a pedestal. It should treat the reader as a fellow-sufferer and share feelings and emotions. For me, a good poem, midway makes me the one who has penned it, with a miraculous ease. Poet Ayyanaar’s poems have this ability to make us empathize and get into his soul, grieving and languishing, despairing, de-constructing life and undertaking a solitary voyage into the innermost riddles of life.

I sincerely wish, primarily as a discerning reader of Neo-Tamil poems, that many more such initiatives towards rendering the contemporary Tamil poets in English are undertaken in right earnest, in the near future.




The moment I stepped inside the City
the first thing that came into view
were the horns of men.

Instinctively my hand felt my head.
Nothing pricked

With the heart being fully aware that
the Onida Ad is a figment of imagination
Even in the wildest of my dreams I have never seen
real men sporting horns.
But now, forcing me to believe that
the city-bred would indeed be born
with horns
I come across men with horns
all too often.

Thinking that at least my friend from the village
who has migrated to the town
would be free of horns,
when I knocked at the doors
he opened it
waving his horns gleefully.

I touched the horn.
Indeed it was real.
Once again I felt my head.
And, I could feel something pricking.

Before the Sun could retire for the day
the horns had grown upon my head too.
I became terror-struck.
I began to cut them but
they kept on sprouting.
The horns that I had removed
during day-time,
when I woke up after a night’s sleep
came to occupy their usual place.

And, I too have begun to
roam around with horns,
searching for the Man
minus the malignant growth.



I set foot into this city
where the wind has ceased to be.

I couldn’t utter even a word
to anyone.

To whom I could tell
the hesitance of utter bewilderment the
secret unknown to my heart?

The spies arrived.
Getting hold of my heart’s key
they opened it.
But, not knowing the code-language of the heart
they were taken aback.
And, they interpreted it with
their own language.

The I became You
and the You became I.

My person,
with its Identity forgotten ,
came to life again, thanks
to the magical chant of the spies.

I too metamorphosed into a spy.





Pushing me forcefully inside
the room
the Night locks it.

With no air to inhale
my body lies there
like a corpse.

Drinking water purchased for a price
Half-clad beauty,
Lord Ganapathy of Pillayarpatti
The eye of Buddha
scanning me always,
on the iron-cot
my body lies
heavy and frozen, as iron.

With the body remaining there
my heart would
leave me.

Away, at one night’s distance
my beloved wife.

With the countenances of
familiar females
floating around,
the long night comes to an end.

Inside the cabin
where none remains
to witness
the words
that my heart utters,
as the distance of a long Night
the vacuum of the big city



Loneliness grips me
like a wild-animal

Night or day
I am in its hold

The earthly life
The joy of the heart
unfolds the wings of

Though thousand of people
are closeby
Loneliness would shroud me
like a night.

Your face
hidden in the inner layers of my
never am I able to probe
and take out

Just for a moment
show me your face
I would escape from these wild-animals
and flying in the air

would live on earth
at least for a day.

As one in thousand.



How are you, My Love?

Do the traces of my remembrance
burn in your Memory?

Every moment
I burn and melt, remembering You.

I keep opening all too often
the shelves within.
But, each night proves bitter,
not enabling me to have a glimpse
of your innocent face.

Not knowing which face you like
and which one I like,
yet, we keep living
in love. Don’t we?



Please let go of my hands

Please untie the ropes that keep me in shackles.
Also, the cloth that blindfolds me.

Please let go the long rope
tied round my hip
the one end of which you hold.

With the help of the map within
with legs trembling
even with wounds
tumbling and fumbling
I would somehow

To this same spot.

Please let go of my hands.


The room is being filled to the brim
with tears.
As waves
it sways, rises and ebbs and so wanders

Chased by memories
pained by the sorrow of migration
The heart covers its face
in anguish untold.

I lie
as the garbage thrown out
by an alien planet.

My Love
who is sleeping somewhere else
in this same land
of Planet Earth



Pierce me with the spear
Let my fear gush forth and stream

Once again pierce
me with the spear
Let the ghost of fear get lost.

Yet, every now and then
I swallow along with my food,
fear too.

In the solitary room
the fan
scatters fear

I remove one by one
the words that are stuck all over the body
as thorns
But they keep sticking
again and again.

They go deep down
And plant themselves there.

In the great grand City
in a tiny vase
the fan



With solitude where the silence remains in tact
With the tube-light
and fan too
I keep conversing

The pillow also, that lies there
in loneliness,
comes forward for a dialogue

The door viewing its own countenance
would come leaping
The worn-out mirror
looks on amused.

The dirty clothes lying at one corner-
they too come to talk


But, this delirium
which keeps raging
which nothing in sight could keep under check-
oh, what am I to do with it?

From nowhere in the world,
never a letter had peeped
into this room.

And no feet
belonging to a person
claiming to be a friend
had ever felt this floor

The cry of the bird
The bark of the dog
The voice of the Sky

Nothing had ever reached here.

Nothing resulted out of waiting endlessly
for the rays of the Sun,
except heart-break.

The wind alone
coming unknown
saves the life.

The room and myself
keep waiting
for a familiar face.


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