by K. G. Satyamurthy ('Sivasagar')
What can I say Sir! My son Yesobu died in the war. my son, who could conquer Neerukonda,* lies sacrificed on a slab of ice. He left with a smile, and returned a corpse, smiling. He calls 'nAnna'.* He went on foot to only return as a bridegroom. a flowering plant has returned as a fallen banyan. He has returned. What can I say? And how? People turn up here, as in a fair, in hordes , and addressing them, speaking of my son's 'sacrifices, patriotism' is you, Sarpanch babu! Sir! When he stopped, people washing their animals in the tank, didn't you, with a whip lash at my son's chest, marked him with stains? Didn’t you scheme to cut his hands, his legs, for buying a big ticket, and sitting beside you in the cinema outside our village? Was it your daughter who glanced at him or he at her? I do not know, but- to kill lion-like Yesobu you wove the noose. How can we forget this history? We remember all this, does the rain wash away the wounds, Sir? On the untouchable's eyelids these truths stand erect, like crowbars driven into our hearts. Mothers! Sirs! My son's death: this isn't the first, many times in our village he died and lived To live, he joined the army, and returned a corpse, alive! Ayyo! My mind's not in my mind. My mind's not in my mind. Sir! In my eyes the pyre dances. Son! Yesoba! Yesoba! Yesoba! My father! For you I'll weep like Karamchedu,* for you, I'll weep like Chunduru* for you, I'll weep like Vempenta,* I'll weep like yesterday's Gosayipalem*! Father! A teardrop, large as the sky, I'll pour like a storm for you! Elders! Lords! Salutations! I wish to curse you; a basketful of curses. I wish to drive a basketful of wild ants to bite you all over; you who are arriving like armies of ants and disappear like swarms of locusts, to see my son’s corpse, you patriots! Wait a second if you're made of pus and blood, shame and honour, if your liver hasn't melted yet, answer this untouchable's questions: it’s not my son you come to visit, but his corpse. don’t you agree?! My son, dead, is a veera jawan, Alive, he's a Mala* jawan, What do you have to say? Answer me! Swear on your Manu. Like a pigeon and a snake can't be related, your upper caste pride can't go with patriotism. Elders! Lords! Listen! Listen to the untouchable word: between the village and the wada* there's a Kargil, from grandfathers', forefathers' age, burning between us this Kargil war hasn't stopped, it goes on. Son! Yesoba! On the third day if you can't return, find the time to return some day and wipe my tears! Father!
*neerukonDa, kAramcheDu, chunDuuru, vEmpenTa, gOsaayipaalem are all villages where incidents of organized violence against Dalits occurred. The word 'konDa' (in Neerukonda) means 'hill'. *nAnna: father. *Mala: a large Dalit sub-caste in South India, mainly found in Andhra Pradesh. *big ticket: refers to a class of seating in village cinemas where patrons sit in chairs, unlike the other major class where everyone sits on the floor. *wada: short for Dalitawada, or Dalit hamlet/quarter in a village. Naren Bedide's translation of K.G.Satyamurthy's ('Sivasagar') Telugu poem kodukA! yEsobA!, written in 1999 (from his collection of poetry: 'Sivasagar Kavitvam').The translation first appeared on The Shared Mirror on June 15, 2012. You can read it here