by G.V. Ratnakar
I put the whole village to sleep while spending sleepless nights, I keep guard over the roads leading to the village while Brahma Jemudus grow in the path of my life. Who am I? I am human too. I am Yanadi Yenkanna. I swear on my father that I believe in the sun, I have been withering in the sun for ages, I have no shade to turn to; hitching the sun to the sky directly on top of my head to keep watch, and swearing by the crowbar I tied a thaali around Lachchi's neck. I don't know whether it is atheism or animism, but I am the Adi Dalit who first excommunicated Brahmanvad. With Lachchi by my side, I cross streams and ponds to catch a few fish; following the flow of water, I throw baits and catch fish. But now I am aiming my spear at the hearts of those whales which swallow the fish; the rich landlords who swallow our lives. Hey! I am fumigating your homes to collect my dried drops of sweat.
*Yanadi: pronounced 'yAnAdi'; the Yanadis are an extremely marginalised, pre-dravidian, tribal community who live in Nellore and Chittoor districts of Andhra Pradesh, mostly. Traditionally,their chief occupations have been hunting, gathering, fishing etc. Though many of them are now engaged in jobs involving manual labour, a section of them still lead a semi-nomadic existence. * Brahma Jemudu: a kind of cactus. * Thaali: pronounced 'taali'; the mangalsutra. Naren Bedide's translation of G.V. Ratnakar's Telugu poem 'yAnAdOnni' from the anthology of Dalit poetry 'padunekkina pATa'.The translation first appeared in The Shared Mirror on March 25, 2012. It can be read here