Death Warrants (poem)

Telugu Original: Mandarapu Hymavati

EnglishTranslation: Syamala Kallury

An endless joy it is
After the head-bath, washing the hair
For some the body feels comfortable
Moves freely in the swing
For some the head-bath itself is
A ritual, that sends one to lands
More comfortable, then it is an explosion!

Hunger is bad.
Sage Vyasa too suffered
The pangs of hunger
Attempted to pierce his arrow
Of curse through the body of
Thecity of Kasi that fed him
Like Goddess Annapurna!
Rajarshi Viswamitra
Had eaten dog’s meat
To assuage hunger.

The prices that soar high into the sky
Unable to bring them down to earth
Unable too, to take care of the family’s needs
Man changes the destiny that fate writes

Till as recently as yesterday
Grandmothers, maternal and paternal,
Were the gods that kids worshipped
For providing the wings of imagination
To them with their stories

Now they are cattle whose udders have gone dry
They are like the fields whose soil has lost its sheen
Till they became preys to the demon old age
How many mothers were blessed with a second life
During childbirths
Young innocent infants were brought up
Till adulthood
Transformed themselves intocooks, maids
And slogged during marriages, and many functions

In the name of globalization world
Has become a small village
And the practices of western countries
Ruled the world over
At one time the guides that had shown the path
Now waste-products in the house

The life-giving green looks after
Lifeless objects dearer than life
The loving greetings have
Changed into a love for green currency notes,
In today’s India head baths or washing hair
Are the new death warrants.

Poet’s note: (In Virudhnagar in Tamil Nadu the practice is to give hair bath to everyone who crosses 60 years of age and make them drink coconut water in excess as they believeit would cause kidney failures and they face eventual death within two days.)


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