vAkapalli's vow

it'd have been better if we'd related our woes to the trees, the forest,
with leaves and roots they'd have treated our wounds
it'd have been better if we'd told the wind, the earth,
we'd have received some cool relief;
in our heart's hamlet suspicions stoke our wounds,
for justice, we gave up shame,
we brought our pain to the cities
to heal the bruises in our hearts, our honour,
we opened them to the officers;
those who examine and those who rule
those who judge and those who looted us:
we didn't realize they're all one
we spit on you..you scoundrels!
it was our mistake to let you into the forest
it was a bigger mistake to plead for justice outside the forest
evil men!
between your sniggers, artifice and threats
we dusted our tearful skirts --
we're returning to our hamlet,
come into the forest and we shall decide;
one day we know we'll catch you
and we shall extract a just price.

my translation of krupakar madiga's shOkapalli shabadham (first published in surya in december, 2007), a tribute to the women of vAkapalli.


Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing it.

kuffir said...

me 1084,

you're welcome :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.

kuffir said...

anu, i was hoping you'd have something more to say.

Anonymous said...

I do, are lives of dalits to be only expressed in pain filled poems...? there is more to these lives, will no poet capture their innocence, their love of nature? Between the points of tragic incidents, moments of sheer triumph of living and loving never seems find a place in all these verses. Maybe there are such poems waiting to be translated :-) or maybe poets think reflecting on those moments deflect.....

kuffir said...


you don't think these poems reflect love?

Anonymous said...

Do you?
I am ambivalent about poetry written about/by dalits, while I find the narrative powerful and imagery gripping I am not sure whether I am comfortable with this inflicted upon violence and subsequent suffering as the main or often the only theme. This is true and has to be told and retold, sure, but feel it is extremely limiting........ Of course, I am talking about only the translated ones that I've had access to, as most dalit poetry is in vernacular languages, it is quite possible the range covered there has wider reflections about such an ancient, peaceful, earthy and lively people.

The English translated ones, however, is almost uni dimensional or rather very restrictive in its description of the dalit experience. All of us have a worst moment in our lives but do we let that define us, forever? Even societies where entire generations have only known war have brought out fabulous love stories, in the background of violence. This celebrates the human spirit to overcome and dalits symbolize that kind of spirit to me........

right, wrong...? :-)

kuffir said...

'right, wrong...?'

you've already passed your judgment.

Anonymous said...


Right: to seek dalit poetry as a stand alone form.... ?

Wrong: to separate dalit politics from dalit poetry at this juncture of dalit assertion.....?

ambivalence or my confusion, not judgment. Apologies, if it came across like that.

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