Translated from the Kunkana to the English by Rupalee Burke
Limbe panting at the fourth step of the stairs
How he once roved hills and vales
No sooner he hit the pillow would he fall fast asleep.
When his wife shook him from slumber
Awake he would
Weighing equal to a four maund male buffalo
With great difficulty
Mumble to himself: Truly!
None there is like me.
Seated at the dining table
Paneer-handi curry to eat
Uncovered basket with parathas in it
Chikus, apples and bread-butter too.
Everything but the heart missing.
Back then Shevla, bhopid, alim, ambadi, vans,
Umbra, anla, keri, karamda, timru
Flowers of all hues!
Pockets stuffed with siridoda blossoms
That’s what you would call a feast! Truly health-giving.
Here withered vegetables
Pulses cultivated with chemical fertilisers and rotting fruits
This is what makes the doctor proclaim
It is this … It is that …
Eat this … Drink that …
No way comparable to the bhagats, our own medicine-men
No matter what sickness, they cured without a fee
This mop of hair, do you see?
White as white can be
Rinsing hair with sticky mud
Those elders there bearing no trace of age!
Cannot think of sitting without a chair
Whereas yoking male buffaloes elders plough the fields!
Sweetness of ice-cream pales when it comes to
Goat milk thickened with drops of the karvat tree
Thoughts come by the dozen
Thoughts … Thoughts …
Shrugging them off, had barely put on the television
Not the television, wifey said:
Will need money, the roof is leaking.
Oh God …
How much can one earn?
There is no hunger! Yet no happiness!
One life, a million worries
Roof of teak leaves elders made in no time
In return for a meager charge.
Haunted by a host of thoughts … Sleep eluded the eyes
Memories of teacher arose in my mind
If you do not complete your work I will drive you out, he would say.
How much work I have accomplished yet no compassion-love.
Hard as stone are people here
None to call our own even within family
Feeling drowsy while turning sides
Trin trin rang the doorbell
Who is it? Wifey answered the doorbell.
Oh … Mother … Father … Mother-in-law …
Limbe sprang up from his bed
Why Mother … Father …
Indigestion … Digested …
Pain … Cured …
Mother had brought food tied in a bundle
Knot was undone
Ate to heart’s content
Wiped his mouth with his mother’s sari
Much like a bubble
In a hushed tone
Muttered: I am full!
That is where life resides!!!
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