War a hearts ravage-1

English Translation: P. Jayalakshmi & Bhargavi Rao

Telugu Original : “Yuddham oka Gunde Kotha” by Seela Subhadra Devi

Gnawing pain

pricking like sharp needle end

tacking nerves along blood stream

began flowing through human frame.

Somewhere, now and then 

touching delicate nerve walls in its course

strumming sensations, 

smarts and shoots even now. 

Cannot take delight in anguished cries, can we?

Cannot happily savour agonized laments, can we?

Even while lying in ambush

paws forward to pounce,

innocents alone feel the fling of the paw.                              

Hurt are a mother’s vitals alone.


When sky rains thunderbolts 

even an awesome tree, refuge for birds

must burn to cinders, and 

don’t orphan’d birds fly helter-skelter?

When metal birds transformed into deadly bombs                   

boom somewhere in a corner—

mother’s vitals snap with a clang. 

Whatever conditions engulf the sky

like war clouds

misery rains all over earth.

Piercing finger may be anyone’s

but eye belongs to us all.

Curling up in bed,

can we say burning house is not ours?

Heat of the blaze will not stop encircling.

Must we suffer the agony 

till hands are burnt to their ends?

Must each to himself look about

for leaves of succor to quench the fires?

We can display our burnt hands

but how douse womb’s blazing sorrow?

How weed out needle-sharpness

coursing invisible along  blood stream

hurting body entire?

….      …      …      ….    ….

Pledged to redeem the house 

pledged and coffered in iron safe

your honey’d words cooed in my ears 

that our lives would sail hence as on flower boat,

behind which cloudy edge have they disappeared?


Pledged to reach me with quickening step

in a moment, 

to whisper,

hum and croon serenades,

behind which wind shield have they all blown?


When death chases us

before life is gathered in hand, tremulous,

legs slide like lifts

stairs as skaters slither.


Along with fear

call of mother follows 

father’s debts too pursue 

desolation, stupor-like, pervades.

In a moment

get caught by death.

Triumphant, death, like smoke

rises up to smother.

The only way out—the window!

Close out thoughts of seeing before and after.

That is all

race towards it.

Do not know which floor it is

what the eye sees deludes the mind.

In that moment 

hurtling swiftly into death’s cave

move on slumberous….!

Recall mother for a moment.

One leap

as if jumping into mother’s lap

plunge headlong.

The head hitting, 

in the farthest horizon

a mother’s  hopes implode. 

Just then 

needle bobbing in streaming blood

comes, pin-pricking.


In that running bloodstream, no single drop

reveals caste or creed.

Does not know city or nation,

addresses or abodes,

colour and taste remain unfelt.

Smell of burning corpses

corroding flesh, invasive germs.


We invite into ourselves cells long died out 

structure and shape them

arrogantly declare a great beginning, 

turn world into Jurassic Park. 

From fossil remains, the extinct today reappear 

as voracious dinosaurs

to order the world around.

We’re waking them from their ancient sleep, aren’t we?

Surely, world has to pay penalty                             

for this self-inflicted crime. 

When dark death’s clouds spread over life,

ceaseless effort’s fruit

culled since times past, devastate,

left are we in vacant vast desert directionless.

Must, this very instant

seek companions for ourselves.

….                ….           …..          

Start with alarms in nightmarish sleep,

watch high towers of tomorrow collapse,

in front of our eyes see dream-crops 

drift and slip away through the window, 

through the window, in distress, look for them.

Even in sleep

sari’s end as cover

hope to hold secure from snatching death

frightened innocent babes. 


From life-taking-away death

knife-edged questions drop

each a hurtful dagger stab.

Really, we do not bear religions

nor procreate faiths, do we?

Mothers! At least you tell us

have any one carried religion in your womb?

Upon birth alone they grow into

Ram, Raheem 

Bush, Laden

Gandhi or Godse.

From us Mother Theresa sprang,

from us Baba Amte, 

to tend the leper.

From us sometimes 

Frankensteins too.

From now on nurse children to be born

to fashion their own futures anonymous 

earn their names themselves after birth.


Somewhere a lithe movement–

a dew drop settles on a petal

sound of helpless murmur of a falling apart,

sound of a vaporizing tear drop

trying to take cover.

In a worn out womb

sound of death’s soft sword slicing entrails.

Beneath, myriad storied structures’ collapse

trampled voices and cries of woe.

Somewhere below, wilted-weak eyelids of old,

whose tears evaporate into desert tracts.

In the pentagon,

shaft runs through groom’s heart,  

across seven seas

a lissome lass buoyed up in nascent colourful dreams,

amidst wedded jingle of bangl’d-bright hands

throbbed one last time, sorrowed.

Smell of enflamed mother’s heart 

from her ‘janana’, fired by

blooming sparks splattering

from cluster bomb’s eye.

Orphan’d refugee children 

encamped in thick-spreading

winter cold’s dense death. 

Babe dying in a mournful moan

before milk, on lips has baked

in blood stained disquiet.

Eyes closed as if to submit in prayer, but

death stealing beneath closed eyelids

crucifying hearts’ blinking lamps before temples

forbade morrow’s early light from dawning.

Hideous thoughts harrow self–

palaces become beast-crawling caverns.

Lifeless oceans, the peopl’d cities; 

breathings as serpents’ hissings;

life as thoughts terrifying, twisting the entrails                                    

as hidden inside hole of fear–                                                                         

needle-end’s hurtful pricking of the wounded throat!


Dribble of blood drops

drop dripping drip dropping

each a droplet of rain 

from battle’s trumpet,

on a sari bought anew 

for new millennium’s beginning,

limn aberrant images indelible.

….             ….             …..           

Pitching directions in four quarters

committed to waging war,

in which quarter is life’s lamp put out

after humanity whole-hog,  

is buried deep in battle field?


Feelings of dominance following,

in guise of barbarism 

drub world freedom,

feign and drool words of peace–

what use is it?


What is the use  

if in garb of innocence

try to draw all into one fold of violence?


Regular to violence are reprisal and revenge.

If aren’t solved amicably

problems flame, flare continuously.

Have to pay price.



in final snuffing out of life,

in the will of death

end signature may be of ‘cluster’ bombs

or of bombs atomic,

or of bio weapons,

or of garish ego’s arrogance,

or of other life-lowering weapons.


no heads to bend in atonement

nor bent heads to hide heads between,

only gray remains of ashen heaps.


That day at least–

recall mother willingly,

who tending infants

laid pathways to posterity’s peaks.
Try hailing her name!

will comfort you,

ignoring onetime neglect,

rising from her grave.


(To be continued-)

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