By Katti Padma Rao
On the banks of the Godavari where my mother hung me from a tamarind tree and went to lift soil, the calls of the crows that gathered around my wail are my music gurus The hills around Nagarjuna Sagar, where my father died while building the dam, which consoled me are the gurus who taught me courage. The blood that spilled, when my mother who went into the forest to collect firewood was caught in thorns, is the colour in my eyes. The angry sorrow that flowed from our eyes, when my mother and I who had gone for harvest jobs to East Godavari left our bags and my brother in the station and returned and saw his decapitated body on the tracks, is my lesson in aesthetics. My mother's shout, which lifted me up, barefoot when I stepped on the hot tar being poured on the trunk road, is my heart's voice. The scene that I saw, on the shores of Bhimli when I went searching after I heard that my brother who'd gone fishing in the sea was caught in a storm, is the form in my eyes. Black crow Black hill Black tar Black ocean are my signs Black reign is my destination.
Naren Bedide's translation of Katti Padma Rao's Telugu poem 'avarNam' ( from the collection of Dalit poetry 'padunekkina pAta'). The original post first appeared in The Shared Mirror on July 16, 2010. It can be read here