War a hearts ravage-11

English Translation: P. Jayalakshmi & Bhargavi Rao

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


Sand dunes become burial grounds,

in paths of broken cacti 

standing as flag posts,

people as refugees, cross borders.

Despite reaching camps seeking shelter

faces show sorrow’s spread.

As cartridge-loaded guns

hidden beneath jackets,

challenging death,

their looks stay braced to the sky.


Flaring up

to sound of vultures’ flapping wings,

smearing kinsmen’s death stench,

bodies swing and sway hunger-possessed.

Fearing, in sleep’s embrace

where mother’s call would hold them back

closed eyelids half asleep

relinquished early slough of affection,

became snakes hidden in anthills

ready to plunge into

sacrificial fire of war’s sarpayaga.


Resolved to wreak vengeance

two harpies, possessed

vomit vermillion red through the sky.

Malice masking as religion

as bandicoots drilling mountains

turn earth’s caves into oceans of blood.

Earth unstable revolving as a top,

looking for peace,

on her head 

great burden of nations takes on,

war frenzied, 

raking smoldering fires in ocean bed

as landmines consumed of fire,

like eeriness before Apocalypse, 

surface explosions throwing up death rites,

inflamed and fuming 

with poison of globalization,

competes with sun’s blaze–

vacillating state of not knowing friend from foe.


Bearing crucible of life as wanderers aimless

hiding weapons in eyes, wedded to death,

youth, finally

leaps into chasm of doom

seeking God’s invisible hand. 

Groping in night’s darkness 

wantonly closes paths

walked by mother

holding their fingers.


Employing Brahmastras against sparrows,

earth and sky, battle-ridden,

mauled and miffed by leopard’s paw strikes

as an incarnate Veerabhadra,

with a thandav’s fierce footwork shaking the world,

dropping great bombs alarming eight quarters 

in flourishing sparkle spraying thunderbolts….

Who the victor?

Who the vanquished?

Lives crushed under hermitage’s debris,

dwindled desires hanging yet to pulsing lives,

peoples’ habitations buried live

blood-wet desert paths,

if thought as signs of victory—


behind draped parda, ‘mehendi’ reddened hands

concealing memory harvests of kith and kin,

draw life’s resources,

cross city confines for living

leaving behind foot prints red,

if considered signs of victory–


quaffing cities and cities by handfuls

make a show of strength 

against infirm old age homes and the sick,

if seen as signs of victory–


declare freedom to  bottled ancient germs 

send winds to accompany,

see unleashed cruelty on earth’s premises

cover all over,

watch diseases eat into life slowly, then

indulge in demoniacal hearty laughter,

if believed as sign of victory–


O pride-puffed demon!

Here, come!

Celebrate your heroic triumph

over tombs, or on mounds of dead.

Mix funeral embers in bloodletting flood

pitch victory pillar trenching hearts.

Look around if there is one, of yours,

to applaud or laugh in joy

while you search for spoils of war.


(To be continued-)

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