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Home page > English > Poetry > Eighteen Poems

Poems of Santosh Alex in English translation

Summer

For me,

Summer is a journey,

back from the cacophony of a city

to the serenity of a small hamlet

Strung to unknown bonds,

roaming around in abandon

through paddy-fields and barren playgrounds,

frolicking in the pond and

swaying atop guava and tamarind trees,

the days go by

Soon that I realise,

the value of these bonds,

the city summons me back

Dictionary

As I put my pen to paper

words went and hid somewhere

I left them to their will

I saw one in the morning newspaper,

a few on the satellite channels

and some in contemporary magazines

They just slipped away

as I tried catching them

In the evening,

as I sat to tutor the children,

words peeked out of the dictionary

donned in new meanings

and mannerisms

Ark

Returning on the wings

of the southerly winds

I crossed the small rivulet,

swaying paddy fields,

vast barren grounds,

secluded walkways,

and the nameless hillock

Time flew by,

catching dragonflies,

collecting abrus seeds,

tasting mango kernels

and Jackfruit flaps

and so did another vacation

When I opened my eyes,

I was atop Noah’s ark

Offence

Oh! How I wish to hear

the Koel’s voice

the harvest songs

the Boatmans ballads

the music of the river

the humming of the bees

the rustle of bamboos

Oh! How I wish I could travel

atop the westerly and easterly winds

Hearing a commotion

when I came out

I saw the koel, farmers

Boatmen, river, bees, bamboo

the westerly and easterly winds

being taken in hand-cuffs

charged of noise pollution

Distance

As the pain in my hand

became unbearable

I measured the distance

between eyes and tears

wings and their flaps

earth and its chasm

things and their shadows

waves and the ocean

cattle and their ropes

I am still unable to measure

the distance between

my hand and its pain

Gandhi

Gandhi

He is once again in news

The young recognize

a smiling Gandhi

on the currency notes

For them, he is

merely a piece of paper

Publishers remember

his experiments with truth

For them, he is

merely a book

Politicians unveil

his statutes at every nook

For them, he is

but merely an occasion

Then there are

seminars

awards

and Universities

to his name

But my friend,

have you seen the Gandhi

that I knew?

Eight Annas

Shopping for vegetables

I got an eight-anna

in change

It is an eight-anna

that Amma had given me

as a hand-out

on Vishu

and I recall how I then sprinted out

to buy sweet-meat

Today,

even beggars don’t accept it

and the grocers and chemists

have replaced it with a toffee

No, I shall not part with it

For I know it’s real worth

Black

Once

all colours got together

Red

Blue

Green

Yellow

White

Black arrived late,

but in its hurriedness

it collided with others

and then, no one

could make out each other

Retribution

He prayed

did charity

shared the grief of others

Fed the hungry

clothed the naked

quenched the thirst of parched throats

When the pearly gates were thrown open

with much fanfare

all expect him

were bodily accepted in heaven

Abandoned Well

(When I saw the Jallianwala Bagh)

Alongwith friends

as I made my way in

a roofless podium did I see

riddled with bullet marks

It is still there, next to it,

an abandoned well

Don’t be amused

This isn’t the well Yousuf was cast in

Yousuf was lucky that he was alone

As I neared the well

the sound of gunshots and screams

grew louder, unbearable

and I traced my steps back

Old

(When I saw the Dutch Cemetry at Bhimilipattanam)

These graves on the sea shore

tell us of a history

four hundred years old

Through the thickets one sees

only a few small domes

done in granite

On some have developed cracks

some are about to fall

I wonder, what is on the decline

These forgotten graves

or the Archaeological Survey of India

(A Dutch Settlement 15 Kilometres off Visakhapatanam)

Numerology

I used to believe in Astrology

On the second day of February

two thousand and one

at five seconds and four minutes

past three,

the Shuttle Columbia

collapsed in a heap

and thus started my belief

In Numerology

Hand

We sow

We plough

harvest

caress

beat up

and kill

with our hands

We strum

the Sitar

Sarod

and Guitar

With our hands

we draw, paint

write poetry

and sign

with our hands

The hand on your shoulder

need not be friendly

The contract you sign

may be breached

The society admonished

the ones who touched a plough

and the ones who stood amused

Beware of the one

who cons with folded hands

The right hand shouldn’t know

what the left does

My hands? Blemishless.

Prayer

Circumambulations

flower offerings and

appeasements are not needed

Just, a flower

a petal

a word

heartfelt, would do.

Good men

The messiah

and Socrates

were good men,

yet were killed

I don’t wish to be good.

Friends

Happily

those who share

your silence

Presence

The wife announces her presence

as she sets the dinner on table

The toy lying on the sofa

says my son is around

The comb carelessly left on the bed

tells me of the presence of my daughter

Once again, I was late to work

and thus reiterated my presence

Love

Do you love me?

He asked her

Yes

She said

Do you care for me?

She asked

Yes

He replied

Conscious and shy,

they both ran and hid themselves

Translated from Malayalam to English by Vijay Nair

Home page > English > Poetry > Eighteen Poems


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