“The Tale of Blood” and other poems


The Lost Needle
— "Kalanjupoya soochi", 2019, translated by A J Thomas

After a needless brawl, the sun was sunk in the sea at noon
And the last needle of the sun too fell far, far away.

Grope about in the sea
If you say grope about in the sea, will you get back the lost needle?
Grope about in the sand
If you say grope about in the sand, will you get back the lost needle?
Grope about in your lap
If you say grope about in my lap, will you get back the lost needle?
Keep quiet
If you say keep quiet, will you get back the lost needle?
Chhe
If you Chhe, will you get back the lost needle?

Hush,
If you say hush, will you get back the lost needle?
Kazhuvēridémolē *
If you call me Kazhuvēridémolē, will you get back the lost needle?

Don’t twirl your moustache
Look up at the sky
There, it’s there at the other end of that white twine
Is the lost needle

The sharp point of the moon-crescent
That strings flowers for females
Even at the darkest midnight hour.

*Kazhuvēridémolē is an expletive

 

Ghost
— "Pretham", 2012, translated by A J Thomas

At dusk
All alone
This way

The whore-sunlight walking beside, grazing
The harlot breeze blowing the dhoti high
The strumpet shadow twining on, following, tenaciously
Seducing towards night—

At a dusk, crimson-darkening—
All alone
This way

Just as turning at this bend, where
The loose casuarinas on both sides
Sway in commotion

All the women born till then
Their faces powdered,
Wearing flower-bunches in their hair
Wiggling their wide hips
Walking full on the path
Inviting for a riotous, giant orgy of lust…
They come

At the spectacle,
Shocked up and erect
Sinking, rising and sinking again
Into the fathomless water
Surging from
Countless lips, breasts and nether-mouths–

Bloated,
Dead,
Drifted ashore

At dusk
Alone
Upon this very same
damned slut-land.

 

Fruit, As it is
— "Kaycha Pati", 2007, translated by C S Venkiteswaran

She who paints,
draws jackfruits
on the branches of the jackfruit tree
and on the roots
just as they are
not fashioned as breasts on the female trunk

Not as split body parts
as openings and wounds
but
as if two minutes ago
Mother had
cut it in two with a knife
and laid it on the bare floor

Its skin, innards
flesh, seeds
the slippery seed–husks
each not drawn separately

The body fully built in thorns
the burden a woman straightening herself bears.

The sticky stain
that refuses to be erased –
the seed that falls at the foot of the jackfruit tree
that rots and sprouts –
the smell that spreads all around-

When women who do not paint, look
with babies growing inside their bellies,
they see fruits
for real,
stuck to the jackfruit tree trunk.

 

The Tale of Blood
—"Chorayute Katha", 2013, translated by J Devika

A-lone
Body.

Countless rivulets cannot match
the leap of its torrents, quickened by
eternal cycles.

Red hibiscus bursting over fences,
Red flags that fly in every street-corner,
They can’t match the red that it sheds.

Not all the martyrs together
have cast
as much salt on this earth.

In the waves that rise and fall
like serpent-hoods,
In the foliage’s futile rise and fall,

Unquenched
Self-renewed,
Blossoming,
and
Benevolent,
It gives forth –

A-lone body,

It gives forth
Blood
that
makes amends
for the unborn.

 

Writing
— "Ezhuthu", 1998, translated by C S Venkiteswaran

Bathing,
the water stopped
all of a sudden

Whistling,
the rusted pipe
came to a stop

Draining,
the body shivered,
naked

Stretching
its fingers through the window,
a trembling wind

For a moment
I felt like
being cold.

And off flew
the garment
of wetness.

Draped
in unruly summer,
I forgot modesty.

The strands of hair
Like a tree
Raining,

From memory
they write
on the body
just a line
or
two
with water.​

 

Mojito Song
—Translated by C S Venkiteswaran

Mint – Four or five leaves 
Sugar – Two tea spoons 
Juice – from three lemons

Two and a half Vodka
Soda 
Ice

In the plantain-leaf land
Along narrow paths, pitch dark 

The moonlight that sways hither thither, enchanted
You, a man or a woman?
The moonlight that spreads like a wild song, brimming over
Who are you to sunlight?
The moonlight that showers without respite, exuberant
Are you true ?

or false?

Oh the crystal clear moonlight, vatted red 
And matured blue for two and a half generations
That stumbles and falls all along the green leaves
Are you Me?
You?
Me-you?

Anitha Thampi is a Malayalam poet and translator. She has published three collections of poetry Muttamatikkumpol (While Sweeping the Front Yard, 2004), Azhakillaathavayellam (All That are Bereft of Beauty, 2010), and Alappuzha Vellam (Alappuzha Water, 2016).
A J Thomas is an award winning Indian English poet, fiction writer and translator. He is a former editor of Indian Literature. His publications include the collection of poems Germination. He also translated Paul Zacharia’s stories in Bhaskara Pattelar and Other Stories and Reflections of a Hen in Her Last Hour and Other Stories. For more on the author and his work, see ajthomas.in.
C S Venkiteswaran is an Indian film critic, professor, documentary filmmaker and writer from Kerala, who writes predominantly in English and Malayalam.
J Devika is a historian, feminist, social critic and academician from Kerala.