Son! Yesoba!

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!
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!
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

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