Bruised, but not Broken (poems)

-Challapalli Swarooparani 

13. Prohibited History

Even as I took shape in
My mother’s womb
I was labelled untouchable
Stamped low-caste
Before I was born.

The day I was born
I bore the imprint of an unchaste woman
Cast into the drainage of tradition
The dustbin of custom.

I became the forbidden one
My childhood, bereft of
Songs of innocence,
Its bloom sullied by tragic songs.

Through the wearisome nine-months it took to travel
My youth
Nurtured with tender affection ought to have blossomed
But with the deity as witness
In the temple
I am unveiled:
A woman on sale
Her flesh marked…

In the shameless present that paraded us naked,
Tossed our tender youth onto funeral pyres,
Forced us to eat excreta:

Mine is a strange, tearful story.
I am one
Who, on the face of this earth
Bears the onus of age-old rejection
Generations of humiliation.

Many are the smiles flung into
Monstrous flames each moment…

But the credit for being labelled prostitute
Even before I was born in this karmabhoomi belongs to me…

My story that should make civilized society hide its face in shame
My story
Under the earth, its deep interior
In which canto of your country’s history
Will you write it down?

(Telugu: “Nishiddha Charita”, translated by Dr.K. Damodar Rao, Kakatiya University, and published in India Literature Journal, Nov-Dec, 2000.)


(To be continued-)

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