Bhagiratha’s Bounty and Other poems-10

English Translation: T.S. Chandra Mouli

Telugu Original : Kandukuri Sreeramulu 

10.Lake in Ravurukala

Even when monsoon arrives, storms strike
why doesn’t tank in my village brim over?
In Medak district, Siddipet mandal
is the lake in ravurukula, a far flung village.

Even as streams overflow
rivers swell fiercely
gates lifted of all  brimming reservoirs
power generated in hydel projects
scattering drizzle starts as rose water
culminating in chaotic deluge
triggering terrible floods
entire landmass lays under water,
why doesn’t lake in my village brim over? 

It is said thousands of lakhs of cusecs of water
drain into all seas, oceans,
just a few cusecs of water if allowed to flow
sufficient to fill tank in my village—
Just wonder what is wrong with my place
as a beggar’s bowl remains empty
without a drop landing there,
like a glass tumbler turned upside down
nether world visible from the bund—
which is the entrance to nether world, perhaps!
Who turned the heaven like lake
into nether world?

Lake in my village was like Indra’s court
akin to maids waving fans
water weir rolled on either side of the lake,
as fairies of waves danced
tank bund looked agape like Indra
gods stared like trees on the bund.

Except reminiscing about the past
either to dip head in the brimming lake
or to bath in showers of gooseberries
no scope, no chance.
Lake in the past wasn’t like this
it was a factory for the fish
womb that delivered warehouse for grains
grown in our village,
such a lake  of hoary past
lake that was abode for croaking frogs
lake that witnessed several games by kids
lake where ‘korameenu’ fish engaged anglers
on exterior of the lake
where cranes dotted canopy like stars
lake where ladies immersed daintily set ‘Bathukamma’s
lake where excess water tripped over bund
why never gets filled with water
even after day-long down pour?
Even after fallow land developed cracks
why none shed tears in sympathy?

It was like holding drinking water  in cupped palms
it was like holding water within puffed cheeks
the lake looked regally
as one walked end to end
dazzled water when viewed from the bund
lake glowed with sheen of zari silk clothes of rulers!

One figure inside the bund, one outside
like Iswara with his consort
fluid on one side of bund, solid on the other side
as fluid ambling along the sluice
flowed on solid soil
green colour spread across the land
undulations of the field seen in seed beds
is like dance of dainty damsels!

Every year only if the lake was full
grains in granaries, food for all available.
Just as wealthy man turns pauper
juicy mango fruit was reduced to fibrous stuff
heaven like lake turned into a hell hole,
used as a short cut track for carts
field for open defecation for far off travellers
turned into massive grave yard for village.
Like converting catchment areas
into housing colonies, in the name of development
whatever be the reasons
what purpose waterless lake serves me
that’s like empty bowl before a hungry man?
Lifeless lake laments like blind person
whose two eyes were pierced by thorns!


(To be continued-)

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