No Entry for the New Sun

Dalit poetry in India

No Entry for the New Sun
By Vilas Rashinkar

With determination they set
the stamp of approval
on their own garrulous tongue
so it becomes easy
to collect a hundred tongues
and spit on the sun.
They prop up crumbled bastions
in ten places
with the twigs of history.
They unwrap the scriptures
from their protective covers
and insist –
‘These are commandments
engraved on stone.’
From pitch-back tunnels
they gather ashes
floating on jet-black water
and reconstruct the skeletons
of their ancestors,
singing hymns
of their thoughts
worn to shreds.
There is no entry here
for the new sun.
This is the empire
of ancestor-worship,
of blackened castoffs,
of darkness.
(Translated by Priya Adarkar)


By Narendra Patil

‘Merely an exhalation’
have slapped down a suit
on the burning thoughts
in my mind!
They’ve put all burning minds
In custody.
all gardens of dreams.
But how long can this bird
remain in this dungeon
whose very walls tremble
with his every exhalation?

(Translated by Shanta Gokhale)


To Dear Aana
By Suresh Kadam

The sunset does not bury our sorrows,
nor does sunrise bring new hopes.
Everything continues, relentlessly.
Society, bound by her rituals of ages,
chews up chunks of human flesh
in blind fury:
the horse she rides
bleeds and foams at the mouth:
she holds the reins
of an ancient system;
her predator’s ears
listen for the twittering of birds;
in the orthodoxy of her world
passion and intensity are ridiculed.
Therefore, dear Aana,
you ought not to have cherished expectations
of a lingering kiss in the long night.

(Translated by Vilas Sarang)

By FM Shinde

Once you’re used to it
you never afterwards
feel anything;
your blood nevermore
nor flows
for wet mud has been slapped
over all your bones.
Once you’re used to it
even the sorrow
that visits you
sometimes, in dreams,
melts away, embarrassed.
Habit isn’t used to breaking out
in feelings.

(Translated by Priya Adarkar)
This Country is Broken
By Bapurao Jagtap

This country is broken into a thousand pieces;
its cities, its religion, its castes,
its people, and even the minds of the people
– all are broken, fragmented.
In this country, each day burns
scorching each moment of our lives.
We bear it all, and stand solid as hills
in this our life
that we do not accept.
Brother, our screams are only an attempt
to write the chronicle of this country
– this naked country
with its heartless religion.
The people here rejoice in their black laws
and deny that we were ever born.
Let us go to some country, brother,
Where, while you live, you will have
a roof above your head,
and where, when you die, there will at least be
a cemetery to receive you.

(Translated by Vilas Sarang)

Light Melted in Darkness
By Meena Gajabhiye

Day slants, narrows down
And then I melt
in the empty space of darkness.
Though I am severed in two
no one cares.
Their leafless bough
never blossoms!
Although they strike root
seeped in my blood
I am entangled in python-coils
for ages.
Their venomous hiss
turns my day into night.
And when I reach out for a sunray
it recedes far away
like the end of a dream
when the eyelid is opened.

(Translated by Charudatta Bhagwat)

By Bhau Panchbhai
How do we taste milk in this town
where trees are planted of venom?
Enemies invite nothing but enmity
How can we share a drink of friendship?
How can I know this town as my own
where workmen are slaughtered daily?
How do I burn to light the path
at this turn
where hutments are set on fire?
They all partake of fruits of faithlessness
How am I to join such company?
Change your cradle if you would
How do I twist the shape of a newborn babe?
I see the clash of prisoners
Trained in schools of warfare
They die, how am I to survive here?
(Translated by Charudatta Bhagwat)

White Paper
By Sharankumar Limbale

I do not ask
for the sun and moon your sky
your farm, your land,
your high houses or your mansions
I do not ask for gods or rituals,
castes or sects
Or even for your mother, sisters, daughters
I ask for
my rights as a man.
Each breath from my lungs
sets off a violent trembling
in your texts and traditions
your hells and heavens
fearing pollution.
Your arms leapt together
To bring to ruin our dwelling places.
You’ll beat me, break me,
loot and burn my habitation
But my friends!
How will you tear down my words
planted like a sun in the east?
My rights: contagious caste riots
festering city by city, village by village,
man by man
For that’s what my rights are –
Sealed off, outcast, road-blocked, exiled.
I want my rights, give me my rights.
Will you deny this incendiary state of things?
I’ll uproot the scriptures like railway tracks.
Burn like a city bus your lawless laws
My friends!
My rights are rising like the sun.
Will you deny this sunrise?

(Translated by Priya Adarkar)

(Poisoned Bread: Translations from Modern Marathi Dalit Literature, Arjun Dangle (Ed.), Orient Longman Limited, 1992.)

Archived from Communalism Combat, August-September 2007, Anniversary Issue (14th), Year 14    No.125, India at 60 Free Spaces, Voices



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