even the best of gollas*
you say, carries a neem seed of obstinacy**
yes. very true!
to disrobe your sins
to gather the debris of your oppression
to set on fire your wayward mane in the village
if you call all this obstinacy
it's not neem seed sized but as large as a palmyra fruit
what can you do about it? i do not care!
shattering the skies
with a golla cry, i tell you
from my forefathers' age
i've been watching your machinations
in the name of land cess
who grabbed the lone rupee from my grandfather
and stuffed it in his safe?
in the name of pasture tax
who took away our goats?
for chopping a branch for our sheep
who confiscated our axe?
'like a ball of butter
you look so lovely lachimi of the gollas
i'll cross your path singing
why don't you trample on my heart golla girl'
singing, who tore apart my grandmother's life?
you, i see, are born of your fathers' hair
like i catch the wolf hiding among the sheep
i've grabbed you by your hair
look! the one after me
sucking at the breast i left
is lying in ambush for the likes of you
'the karanam's grudge***
follows one to the grave you say?'
is your grudge
bigger than my neem seed sized obstinacy pantulu!****
my translation of the poem golla koota by prabhanjan kumar. this poem is also from the padunekkina pAta collection of dalit poetry.
* golla- yadav
** obstinacy- the telugu word used is verri or werri. inherited wisdom among the ruling classes in telangana (and other parts of andhra pradesh) says every golla shows signs of intractable obstinacy or stubbornness, at least once in his life. for the ruling classes, the golla seems unmanageable on those occasions. the stereotype further imputes a certain foolishness or irrationality to all gollas.
*** karanam- hereditary revenue record keeper in the village in telangana (and other parts of andhra pradesh, karnataka etc.,), following a tradition that goes back a few hundred years. the post was abolished in a widely welcomed move (by the lower castes) by the late n.t.r., a majority of karanams or patwaris were brahmins. karanams used to wield a lot of power in the villages and folk wisdom, even today, warns the unlettered to never cross the karanam's path.
**** pantulu- term used for a brahmin, schoolteacher or literate/learned man (again, mostly brahmins).