Bruised, but not Broken (poems)

-Challapalli Swarooparani 

16. Postponement of Love

Love poetry!
What do you mean, my writing it?
My lips have been trembling for ages
With the fear of death
To even utter the syllables of love,
How can I write poems on my love!

Who after all acknowledged
There beats a heart
In my black body,
Or that love and affection flow, as streams in it?

It they hear of the honey
That my heart’s flower yields
All the tales of eternal lovers
That dot the pages of history
Will rid themselves of cobwebs
And flee books for the graveyard.

Of course, you won’t agree
But from time immemorial,
Was it not I
Who turned, head to toe, into a wave of love Whenever love’s
fragrance greeted my nostrils?

For generations I carried this male world
Affected by caste leprosy
In my basket of affections*
But merciless Time ordered me,
A virgin,
To carry the crucifix of humiliation
In my womb.

Running after ‘heart’ and ‘affection’
Through the desert of my life
I understand now
That a mirage troubled my eyes.

As I spread my identity at his feet
He adorned my neck with death’s rope
Instead of the sacred thread…

For fortunate people
The heart is a sweet beautiful flower
And love, a dream
For a Chandalika** like me
It is prohibited
To float down the river of love.
Unless they see me
Not as a pile of limbs
But a flood-tide of affection
And dip in and out of my flowing waters
They will not understand
Generations of love
Is what I say.

Until then, I deny access
To this blind world
That has eyes but cannot see
A brain but cannot think.
I put away my love-fragrance for
The large-hearted.

*Ironic reference to Sukanya, a puranic character famed for her chastity, who carried her leprosy-afflicted husband to a prostitute’s house in a basket**A Dalit girl

(Telugu: “Premavayida”, translated by Prof K Suneetha Rani, Centre for Women’s Studies, University of Hyderabad and published in Mankenapoovu, an anthology of poems by the author, 2005 and K Suneetha Rani (ed), Dalit Women’s Writing, 2012.)


(To be continued-)

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