అనువాదలహరి

Search … Sowbhagya

I  turn over dawn like a page

You spread out like night extending into the day.

I open up  the night like an eyelid—

you vanish like a withdrawn day.

I run marathon for days and nights, and

You tease and torment me

becoming an ever eluding finish line.

To find you , I search

the wombs of flowers,

turning into a butterfly,

the terrain of earth,

raining drop by drop,

and charter high seas

becoming a ship.

but, you are not to be seen.

The more you elude my search

the more my grit grows… to a mountain.

I send churned out thoughts in all directions, to all lands,

send rockets to unravel the inter-stellar space,

pray moonshine to reveal any traces of your shadows.

In an endless, untiring, relentless search

I pass my life like a second.

I wail for you till the grief is relieved

shedding streams of tears.

I will be shocked to find your image

in every tear I shed.

When I hear your call from the inmosts of me

I    

S… T…A…R…T…!

.

Sowbhagya

Telugu Original:  అన్వేషణ

నేను నిన్ను ప్రేమిస్తున్నాను… లారీ ఎస్ చెంగెజ్

.

నువ్వు నువ్వయినందుకే కాదు,

నీ సమక్షంలో

నేను నేనయినందుకు

నిన్ను ప్రేమిస్తున్నాను.

ప్రేమలో నిన్ను నువ్వు 

మలుచుకున్న తీరుకే కాదు

నన్ను నువ్వు మలుచుతున్న తీరుకికూడా

నిన్ను ప్రేమిస్తున్నాను.

నాలోని ఒకపార్శ్వాన్ని

బయటకి రప్పిస్తున్నందుకు

నిన్ను ప్రేమిస్తున్నా

పోగుపడ్డ నా హృదయం మీద

నీ చెయ్యి వేసి

అక్కడ కనిపించిన

బలహీనమైనవీ,

తెలివితక్కువవీ గుర్తించి

సరిదిద్దలేనివి అలా వదిలేసి

ఇంతవరకూ ఎవ్వరూ

చూడడానికి ప్రయత్నించని

సుందరమైన విషయాలు చూసి

పనిగట్టుకుని వెలుగులోకి

తీసుకువచ్చినందుకు

నిన్ను ప్రేమిస్తున్నాను.

ఇంతవరకూ

ఏ విశ్వాసమూ చెయ్యలేకపోయిన…

మంచి వ్యక్తిగా నన్ను తీర్చిదిద్దినందుకూ

ఏ విధీ ఉంచలేకపోయినంత

ఆనందంగా నన్నుంచగలిగినందుకూ

నిన్ను ప్రేమిస్తున్నాను.

ఇదంతా కేవలం 

నన్ను తాకకుండానే

ఒక్క మాట మాటాడకుండానే

ఒక సంకేతమూ ఇవ్వకుండానే

నువ్వు సాధించగలిగేవు.

ఇది నువ్వు నువ్వుగా ఉంటూ సాధించావు.

బహుశా,

స్నేహితుడుగా ఉండడమంటే అదేనేమో!

ఏమో!

.

లారీ ఎస్ చెంగెజ్

(ఇంత మంచి కవి గురించి ఏ సమాచారమూ అందించలేనందుకు విచారిస్తున్నాను)

.

.

I Love You

.

I love you,

Not only for what you are,

But for what I am

When I am with you.

I love you,

Not only for what

You have made of yourself,

But for what

You are making of me.

I love you,

For the part of me

That you bring out;

I love you,

For putting your hand

Into my heaped-up heart

And passing over

All the foolish,

weak things

That you can’t help

Dimly seeing there,

And for drawing out

Into the light

All the beautiful belongings

That no one else had looked

Quite far enough to find.

I love you,

Because you have done

More than any creed

Could have done

To make me good.

And more than any fate

Could have done

To make me happy.

You have done it

Without a touch

Without a word,

Without a sign.

You have done it

By being yourself,

Perhaps that is what

Being a friend means,

After All.

.

Larry S. Chengges

(I deeply regret that I am not able to provide any details about this wonderful poet.)

అసుర సంధ్యవేళ … హెచ్. డబ్ల్యూ. లాంగ్ ఫెలో, అమెరికను

రోజు ముగిసి వెలుతురు పలచబడుతూ,

మెల్లగా చీకటి నలుచెరగులా కమ్ముతున్నప్పుడు

దైనందిన కార్యకలాపాలకి ఒకింత విశ్రాంతి

దొరికే ఘడియ వస్తుంది; అదే అసురసంధ్యవేళ. 

 

నా నెత్తిమీదనున్న గదిలో

చిన్ని పాదాల అడుగులు నాకు వినవస్తాయి

ఒక తలుపు తెరుచుకున్న చప్పుడుతో పాటు

గలగలమనే మెత్తని తియ్యని మాటలుకూడా

 

నా చదువుకునే గదిలోంచి దీపపు వెలుగులో

విశాలమైన హాలు లోని మెట్లమీదనుండి

గంభీరంగా ఏలిస్, నవ్వుతూ ఏలెగ్రా

పసిడితీవెలజుత్తుతో ఎడిత్ దిగడం కనిపిస్తుంది.

 

ఒక గుసగుస, వెంటనే కమ్ముకున్న నిశ్శబ్దం:

అయినా ఆనందంతో మెరిసే వాళ్ల కళ్ళలో

వాళ్లు జట్టుగా ఏదో కలాపన రచిస్తూ నన్ను

ఆశ్చర్యపరచాలనుకుంటున్నారని తెలిసిపోతుంది 

 

మెట్లమీదనుండి ఒక్కపరుగుతో

హాలులోంచి ఒక్క ఉదుకున దండెత్తుతూ

తెరిచిఉన్న నా గది మూడు తలుపులనుండి

నా కోటలోకి ప్రవేశిస్తారు వాళ్ళు.

 

నా కోట బురుజు మీదకి ఎగబ్రాకుతారు

నా చేతులమీంచీ, కుర్చీ వెనకనుంచీ,

నేను పారిపోడానికి ప్రయత్నించానా

అన్నిచోట్లా వాళ్ళే అయి నన్ను చుట్టుముడతారు.

 

నన్ను ముద్దులతో ముంచెత్తుతారు

వాళ్ళచేతుల్ని తీగల్లా పెనవేస్తారు

జర్మనీలోని రైన్ నదిలో “ఎలుకల-మేడ”

జానపద కథలో బిషప్ నాకు గుర్తొచ్చేలా.

 

ఓ నీలికళ్ల బందిపోటు పిల్లదానా!

నువ్వు గోడ ఎక్కివచ్చినంత మాత్రాన్న

నా లాంటి ముదిమి మీసాల మొనగాడు

మీ అందరితో సరితూగలేడనుకున్నావా?

 

క్షణంలో మిమ్మల్ని బందీలుగా చేస్తాను

బయటకి ఒక్క అడుగుకూడా వెయ్యనియ్యను

గుండ్రంగా నిటారుగా ఉండే నా గుండె గది…

చీకటి గూభ్యంలో … మిమ్మల్ని బంధిస్తాను.

 

మిమ్మల్ని అక్కడే శాశ్వతంగా బందీలు చేస్తాను

నిజంగానే.  పగలూ, రాత్రీ అన్న తేడా లేకుండా,

చివరికి ఈ గోడలు మెల్లగా శిధిలమై

చివికి చివికి మట్టిలో కలిసిపోయేదాకా!

.

హెచ్. డబ్ల్యూ. లాంగ్ ఫెలో

(February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882)

అమెరికను

.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on the Isle of Wigh...
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on the Isle of Wight, England in 1868 by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 – 1879) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

.
The Children’s Hour
.

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882)

American Poet and Educator

సానెట్ LXVII … ఛార్లెట్ స్మిత్, ఇంగ్లండు.

.

ఆకాశంలో నల్లమబ్బులు ఎగిరెగిరి పడుతున్నాయి,

కమ్ముకొస్తున్నతుఫానుకి నేల భయంతో వణుకుతున్నట్టుంది;

కేవలం నాలాంటి ఏ దిక్కూలేని వాళ్ళం మాత్రమే

రివ్వున వీస్తున్న ఈ రొజ్జగాలి తాకిడికి తలఒగ్గి ఉన్నాం;

నలుచెరగులా కూలుతున్నగోడలకి వెరచి, ఆకలేస్తున్నా

గుడ్లగూబ తన సాయంత్రపు తిండి వేట విరమించుకుంది;

దట్టమైన చిట్టడవిలో గుంటనక్కొకటి గుహలో దాక్కుని

ఈ రాత్రి తుఫానుబారి నుండి తన్నుతాను కాపాడుకుంటోంది;

కాని, నేను విసర్జించిన ఈ ప్రపంచానికి నన్ను

 కనపడనీని ఈ చీకటి నా మనసుకి ఎంతో నచ్చింది…

చివికి మన్నైపోతున్న సమాధి విధ్వంశానికి గురైన దృశ్యంలా  

దౌర్భాగ్యుడి విషాదానికి సరిగ్గా అతికినట్టు పోలి ఉంది సందర్భం…

ఈ చిక్కని నీడలా, కత్తిలాకోస్తున్న గాలిలా,

వక్రించిన నా విధి లా, ఆశతొడగని నా నిరుత్సాహంలా.

.

ఛార్లెట్ స్మిత్

(4 May 1749 – 28 October 1806)

ఇంగ్లండు

.

English: Portrait of Charlotte Turner Smith (1...
English: Portrait of Charlotte Turner Smith (1749-1806, frontispiece to an 1827 publication of her Elegiac Sonnets) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

.

SONNET LXVII.

(On passing over a dreary tract of country, and near the ruins of a deserted chapel, during a tempest.)

Swift fleet the billowy clouds along the sky,

Earth seems to shudder at the storm aghast;

While only beings as forlorn as I,

Court the chill horrors of the howling blast.

Even round yon crumbling walls, in search of food,

The ravenous Owl foregoes his evening flight,

And in his cave, within the deepest wood,

The Fox eludes the tempest of the night.

But to my heart congenial is the gloom

Which hides me from a World I wish to shun;

That scene where Ruin saps the mouldering tomb

Suits with the sadness of a wretch undone.

Nor is the deepest shade, the keenest air,

Black as my fate, or cold as my despair.

,

Charlotte Smith

(4 May 1749 – 28 October 1806)

Poem Courtesy:

http://digital.lib.ucdavis.edu/projects/bwrp/Works/SmitCElegi.htm

తగువూ— వియోగమూ…యునిస్ టీచెన్, అమెరికను

.

బాధతో ఎర్రబారిన కళ్ళతో, వలలో చిక్కిన

జంతువులా నా వంక చూసేవు; తల తాటించేవు

అట్నుంచి ఇటూ ఇట్నుంచి అటూ, నీగొంతుకని బాధ 

కోపంతోనూ భయంతోనూ మెలిపెట్టిందేమోనన్నట్లు.

 .

అప్పుడు నువ్వు వెనుతిరిగి నన్ను వీడిపోయావు.

తెలీని నిశ్చేష్టత ఏదో నన్నావహించి అలా నిలబడ్డాను

నువ్వు తొడుక్కున్న వర్షపుకోటు గుండీలని సరిగ్గా

పెట్టుకుంటే బాగుండునని మనసులో అనుకున్నాను.

 .

నువ్వు వెళ్ళేదాకా అలా చూస్తూనే ఉన్నా. ఒక్కసారి

నా కడపటి మాటలు బెదురుతూ, గాలివాటులోకలిసిపోయాయి.

నా గుండె లోపల లోపల ఎక్కడో మెల్లగా, శాశ్వతంగా

ఒక తలుపుమూసుకున్న చిరు సవ్వడి వినిపించింది.

.

యునిస్ టీచెన్

(July 29, 1884 – September 6, 1944) 

అమెరికను

.

Eunice Tietjens Image Courtesy: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/eunice-tietjens
Eunice Tietjens
Image Courtesy: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/eunice-tietjens

.
Parting After a Quarrel
.

You looked at me with eyes grown bright with pain,
Like some trapped thing’s. And then you moved your head
Slowly from side to side, as though the strain
Ached in your throat with anger and with dread.

And then you turned and left me, and I stood
With a queer sense of deadness over me,
And only wondered dully that you could
Fasten your trench-coat up so carefully.

Till you were gone. Then all the air was quick
With my last words, that seemed to leap and quiver.
And in my heart I heard the little click
Of a door that closes—quietly, forever.

.

Eunice Tietjens,

(July 29, 1884 – September 6, 1944)

American Poet, Novelist, Journalist, Children’s Author, Lecturer, and Editor.

నే నేమీ కాను… ఎమిలీ డికిన్సన్, అమెరికను

నేనేమీ కాను…

నేనొక అనామికను. మరి నువ్వెవరు?

నువ్వు కూడా నాలాగే ఏమీ కావా?

అలాగైతే  మనమొక అనామకపు జంటమన్నమాట.

ఈ విషయం ఎవరికీ చెప్పకు. నీకు తెలీదు,

తెలిస్తే, వాళ్ళు మనల్ని వెలివేస్తారు.

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ఏదో ఒకటవడం ఎంత నిస్సారంగా ఉంటుంది!

ఇది కప్ప అని పోల్చుకున్నట్టు,

జీవితాంతమూ, ఈ సారవంతమైన నేలలో

ఏదో ఒకపేరుతో బతకడం

ఎంత బహిరంగమైపోతుంది.

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ఎమిలీ డికిన్సన్.

అమెరికను

ఎమిలీ డికిన్సన్  అజ్ఞాతంగా బ్రతకడం గురించి వ్రాయడంలో వింతలేదు. ఎందుకంటే, ఆమె అలాగే జీవించింది. ఆమె చనిపోయే వరకూ ఆమె అద్భుతమైన సాహిత్యాన్ని సృష్టించిందని ఇంటిలోని వాళ్లకే తెలీదంటే, ఈ విషయంలో ఆమె నిజాయితీ, నిబద్ధత చెప్పనలవికానివి. అన్ని వ్యామోహాల్లోకీ తప్పించుకోలేనివ్యామోహం మన పేరు. అది చిరస్థాయిగా ఉండాలని సంపన్నులనుండి సామాన్యులవరకూ ఎన్నో తంటాలు పడుతూనే ఉంటారు. చివరకి రాళ్ళమీదా చెట్లమీదా తమపేరు చెక్కేసుకుంటారు… ఆఖరికి అవేవో శాశ్వతమైనట్టు. సూర్యుడు అంతరించేవేళకి కొన్ని యుగాలు ముందుగానే, ఈ భూమి ఒక మరుభూమిగా మారిపోయి జీవరాశి ఉనికే ఉండదు. ఆ సత్యం అవగతమైతే, … మన వంశం, మన పిల్లలూ, మన జాతీ … మిగతాజాతులన్నీ హరించిపోయినా ఈ భూమిమీద బతకాలనే యావ, దానికోసం దేశాధినేతలూ, వ్యాపారవేత్తలూ చేసే అనర్థాలకి భరతవాక్యం పలికి, ఉన్నన్నాళ్లూ అందరూ సుభిక్షంగా ఉండే దిశవైపు అడుగులు వేయగలుగుతారు.  కానీ, అది అత్యాశే.

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Cover of "I'm Nobody! Who Are You? (Schol...
Cover via Amazon

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I’m Nobody
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us—don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

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Emily Dickinson

రసవాదం.. సారా టీజ్డేల్, అమెరికను

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తొలకరి వర్షానికి వసంతం
ఒక బంగరు డెయిజీ తలని ఎత్తినట్టు
బాధను పట్టుకునేదయితేనేం,
నా మనసు, ఒక అందమైన పాత్రగా చేస్తాను

వాటిమీద పడ్డ ప్రతి బిందువుకీ రంగువెయ్యడం
నేను ప్రతి పువ్వునుండీ, ఆకునుండీ నేర్చుకుంటాను
నిర్జీవమైన బాధాసవాన్ని
మెరిసేబంగారుగా మలిచేవిద్య నేర్చుకుంటాను.

సారా టీజ్డేల్

అమెరికను

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English: Filsinger, Sara Teasdale, Mrs., portr...
English: Filsinger, Sara Teasdale, Mrs., portrait photograph. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Alchemy

I lift my heart as spring lifts up
A yellow daisy to the rain;
My heart will be a lovely cup
Altho’ it holds but pain.

For I shall learn from flower and leaf
That color every drop they hold,
To change the lifeless wine of grief
To living gold.

Sarah Teasdale

A Surrealistic Painting… Aripirala Satya Prasad,Telugu, Indian

I sat up. I was still feeling drowsy.  I rubbed my eyes to clear my vision and looked at the floor.  There was a painting under my feet… On Cross… charcoal on tar road. It was just like the picture I drew some twenty years back. That it remained intact on the road was all the more surprising. The face of Christ was agonizingly portrayed but, there was a smile lurking there… as if beckoning me to his fold.  I tried to get on my feet as carefully as possible lest I should erase it. Fortunately, my feet did not touch the ground.

I was unable to see what was in front of me…. It was just a curtain of mist.  And through the translucent dimness I could make out some busy noises at a distance. The mist was steadily melting… and slowly washing down the faces in colours… much like a surrealistic painting. To be more precise, it was like a mass surrealistic painting as the mist melted down.

There was a tea-stall on wheels. I was watching it without stirring from my place. It was like an Art Gallery with all Paintings got mixed up. I looked at the wall.  With paint and mortar peeling out here and there, it was itself like a faded abstract expressionist painting. At the foot of the wall there were some stains of spittle. On the wall, shoe and chappal marks of people who sipped tea standing on one leg and leaned on to the wall with the other were visible. It reminded me of some minimalist painting of the seventies. And if somebody argued it was only Geometric Abstract, perhaps, I would not refute it… though no symmetry in the stains could be seen. What was his name who invented this Geometric Abstract…? Kasimir…Kasimir… something!

“One tea” I shouted at the person serving tea to others there.

I found a big boulder nearby. I sat on that. The stone was soft. On the wall behind me there was a cinema poster half peeled. And through the half-peeled poster, another poster stuck there a week ago was visible. “A Collage…can we call it “Revealism?”… Was there anything like that?”  I was not so sure.  I watched the person serving tea. He was so lost in his work that he took no notice of my existence. His was such a typical face.  As my teacher had once explained, his face was made up of just three shapes… a circle, a square and a triangle. He was looking fresh still, since the day was not even a half through. “When I return in the evening and find him steeped in sweat, I should attempt to do him live,” I decided

I turned my head and looked in front once more. The window I passed by looked so far away now. It was moving back and back and back as I watched. There gathered a crowd… indeed a very large crowd of people. Well, I can’t tell you what a wonderful feeling it was to see such gathering. For that matter, looking at people in itself was a wonderful experience…for, in those small, little faces, one could find thousands of emotions and expressions. Did you see that man… that bald-headed fellow? He came out to buy vegetables but forgot all about it and was trying to watch something jostling in the crowd. There was both anxiety and hurry in his face… as a three-year old child was pulling him by his hand from behind crying “let’s go”. There was impatience in that little child’s face. She was eager to leave. Did you see that girl there… No …no… no… not she… but the other one, beside that hefty figure in maroon-color sari. Yes, that very girl with the dog. As the frills of her red sari fluttering under breeze fell on the black pant of the man standing beside to her, it was a treat to watch. Black and red color combination was such!

I thought it would be nice if could draw this crowd like this.  Perhaps, it would look even better in cubism… fixing that girl at the center and drawing her face around…  Oh! It would really come out a master piece.

“How long will it take for a cup of tea, I say?”  I vent my anger at the man selling tea and turned my attention back to the crowd.

There was some movement at the center and something was trying to ease out of the crowd. Oh, it was only a color… the red color.  It was so exciting to see the red. For a while, forgetting about cubism, my mind turned to classical realism. Yes, I should it that way. Only then, people would acknowledge my talent.  An admixture of Realism and Neoclassicism… By the way, where were my brushes? I must get back home. But how?  A black drizzle had already started.

Strangely, however much it rained nothing happened to the color … that was no color… now I realized… it was blood! Somebody’s blood seeping through the crowd.  I got up in a hurry, scampered through and whisking the crowd I saw….

There was a corpse… a corpse.

But it was me!!!

It was me who was lying there. That dark tanned face was mine and there was blood on my face…so blatantly mismatching whatever you say. The rain turned green.

***

“You have to draw the portrait of Narayana…”

I jumped in delight. It was my fortune to draw the portrait of my guru, my master… what more would I ask for! There were no words to express my love for him!

But when I saw him for the first time, however, I had a deep urge to stab him with a knife… “But what would I gain by killing him?” I reasoned on second thoughts.  Jealousy sir jealousy! I was so damningly jealous of him.

He was sixty plus. But he would become a child when it comes to scrutinizing a drawing. He would look, watch and notice every single stroke of the drawing through his glasses.  Even if it were drawn by a child, he would watch it as hungrily. Then he would draw it independently… over and over. He would relentless draw it until he mastered it. That’s why he could do everything from portraits to abstracts; from illustrations to caricatures. He was doing them still.

“Hunger is the prime requisite… there was no art that did not surrender to hunger,” he said once.

“Yes. If Van Gogh could draw such great paintings, it was only because of the growing wolf in his belly.” I said, rather foolishly. He chuckled.

“It was not that hunger I was speaking about. I meant the hunger for learning everything new we come across. If that fire burns within you, you feel like learning many things like these….” he said. Then he opened out his collection of pictures for me.

There were abstracts from China, cartoon strips from magazines published in Germany, poster designs drawn from Middle-East… and many more. As he went on describing the significance of each Painting, explaining the expertise of the strokes, his enthusiasm was only waxing, while I was down with deep despair! When I returned to my humble abode late in the night leaving the world behind to itself, I began hating myself. After seeing such work and introduced to such artistes, I thought I had no right to call myself an artiste. The four paintings in front of me… which I drew in my own hand… seemed scoffing at me. I was so infuriated that I threw colours on them with vengeance. I emptied one full red Indian-Ink bottle on them.

***

Blood… so ruddy… was spreading across the road. It was mine… rather from my corpse. When I realized that I was dead, I could not contain my tears. It was not my wife or my children that flashed in my memory… nor my father and mother or my relations; It was not even my master!

What flashed before my eyes hazily was the portrait I was drawing of Narayana, my master! It was not complete. I finished the sketch. Applied base colours. But, there was still a lot of work to do.  “But who would complete it now?” was my question. “Will anybody complete it?” was my doubt. The overall scheme of the painting was shaped in my thoughts, but it was not destined to take birth on the earth.  With my death, that painting died a premature death in the womb itself.

There was no chance for anybody to know that I had started working on that. Maybe, the fellow who advanced me for that would come, but he would not be ready to take that half-cooked work. Like the “Crying Child” It must, unfortunately, dust there or in some corner of the room.

Someday my wife might think this painting was in her way. That day it might find its way onto the cart of some waste collector. What else could I expect of her, after all? Not that she was averse to art; if somebody showed her a completed painting, she would be able to judge whether it was good-looking or not, if not, she was able to explain what was exactly good about it. In such a case, it would be too much to expect of her to recognize a master piece in the making.

“Don’t be so absent-minded?” she used to bring me to senses occasionally.

“No. Nothing like that,” I used to answer her.  But what should I say?  Should I tell her the pencil art of a Russian lady artiste was still boring through my mind? Or, should I say Da Vinci’s brush was dashing colors sinking deep into my heart? Or should I explain the labor pains of a yet-to-take-shape painting in my brain?

“Look! You swapped your chappal…” she pointed out my error when I started off.

Then I looked at my feet. She was right. I was somehow felt that there was lack of symmetry as I slipped my feet into the chappal, but did not probe further.

Wearing the chappal properly, I said, “I am out to visit my teacher and be home before long.”

“Don’t drive the vehicle lost in thoughts,” she warned, poor girl!

I heard her warning. But can we control our thoughts, dreams and imaginings? As they seized me, I forgot to take the right turn where I should and overshot. I had to go further and take a U-turn. I had almost finished the overall scheme of the painting in my mind. I was calling on my master just to take some references. I was eager to draw his painting in his favorite style of magic realism. I had almost reached his house. I was almost there. Then again missed the mark to take the U-turn, and instead of taking a right turn I took a sudden left and came under a lorry speeding from behind. It all happened in a flash and I was on the road. My painting had become a destitute.

***

I was a crazy fellow. Watching the scene before my eyes I thought it was a surrealistic painting or some such thing. I don’t know if things really appear like that for the Soul. I was venting my anger at the poor fellow for not supplying me my cup of tea. How long should I sit still, like the model sitting for a painting? If I were a Soul, should I not fly high into the air and into the skies? What was restraining me?

People were congregating around my body.

“You see how fatal it was not to wear a helmet…” someone was parroting about road safety…

“I was watching him… he had no control over his vehicle. I thought he was inebriated. He suddenly took a turn,” said another eyewitness.

I could not stand them anymore. There was something preventing me from leaving this world against my will.

It was some strong force here on this earth.

Meanwhile, the police had arrived.  They pulled out my mobile and started dialing the numbers found there. I understood. Perhaps my Soul was eager to see my wife and children, and that was the reason for delay.

The ambulance had arrived. So did my wife and children. My wife was wailing her heart out.  But, I did not get tears… knew not why.

Everything was over. They would be removing the body from there soon.  At least now my Soul should stir. But, no.  There was some shackle still.

“What happened?” an old man asked a young boy standing at the end of the line.

“Accident… spot death.” Somebody answered.

“Poor fellow. Was he identified?”

“Some poor Tom… they say he was an artiste.” He answered. The old man made his way through the crowd to have a close look.  Standing near my corpse in folded hands and looking into it he said,

“What picture was playing before your eyes, my son, you could not see your own death,” and came out. That was perhaps what my soul wanted to hear. With my death I left behind my image, but the painting of my dreams remained incomplete. At least one person could make out the cause of my death. Just that! And soon my soul started lifting off high into the air.

The old man was collecting the change thrown on the drawing of the Christ.

***

Aripirala Satyaprasad

Aripirala Satya Prasad

Telugu, Indian

Read the Telugu Original here: ఊహా చిత్రం

Born in Guntur, Aripirala Satyaprasad is educated in Nellore, Hyderabad and Anand (Gujarat). He is a noted short story writer having over 50 short stories to his credit. Yet, he says, he is yet to write his best story. His collection of short stories with the same title as the present story is on the anvil.  Presently he is associated with ICICI Lombard.

Damayanti’s Daughter … P. Satyavathi, Telugu, Indian

I usually pull the window blinds down on Sundays to keep the Sun away. But my roommate Sneha, who gets up at six no matter whether it is Sunday or working day, and with old Hindi songs in the background cherishes reading every damn Telugu and English daily with its supplement leisurely sipping her coffee, shall not permit me the luxury of sleeping late into the day.

“If you sleep like a lazy cow I shall have to drag you out,” she warned, and I knew she would literally drag me out if I had delayed any further. So I got up quickly and finished my preliminary ablutions like brushing and face wash. With a dramatic gesture, “Welcome my lady! Which starry worlds can I take you?” she said, setting the coffee mug near me.

Before she finished the last words, the phone rang… like a stone plopped into still waters.

It was my paternal aunt.

“Don’t look for alliances for me,” I curtly and angrily told her any number of times, but she would not listen.

“Listen! Parents on one Mr Santosh from Samalkot liked your profile. The boy also liked it. I had already talked to them. All of us are coming there on Thursday. Apply for leave and make yourself available. OK?” She issued a dictum. I thought Thursday was too far from Sunday and I could invent some good reason to escape from this.

“I asked the beautician to come here at nine thirty to give me a massage. After that, for the whole day we shall be roaming, eating out, discussing etc., etc…” proposed my friend.

Before we could chalk out our plans where to go, what to buy and whom to call, another stone plopped in the pond.

“I want to talk to you. Tell me when and where I could meet you?” That was none other than the Santosh from Samalkot who my aunt said, had liked my profile.

“I nether want to meet or talk to you. Is it enough if you have liked my profile? Don’t you think I should like yours? Besides, we will be meeting on Thursday any way. What is the hurry before that?” I said.

“It is a very important matter. Please!” he pleaded.

“Let him come. We can have some fun. Ask him to come here right now. Let us decide the issue ourselves. I am here, don’t worry,” reassured Sneha.  I conveyed him accordingly.

Santosh from Samalkot had the same qualifications and was as decently employed as me; he dressed up very neatly and had Brut spray on him (he might have even gargled some mouthwash too) and arrived scenting the air as he entered the room. After the preliminary courtesies and exchanges were over, he spilled out the beans. He said his mother got a sudden and unsettling doubt in the midst of the previous night whether Damayanti had indeed died or ran away? He also said, that she was disconcerted and mumbling and grumbling within from then on. To be fair to him, he did not use the word “ran away” but used the same clichéd, worn out, out-dated word which our relatives, neighbours, illiterates, and people who never had access to Brut’s, mouthwashes or scents, used over and over.

“I am sorry Mr Santosh. No. I can’t please you hiding the fact and say Damayanti had indeed died. Can you recall the word you just used to describe her action a while ago? Eloped. Yes, that’s the very word. It was exactly what she did. And I am her daughter. Does it satisfy you, now?  Tell your people this truth,” I said. The perfume he used was nauseating.

“No. No. It’s not that exactly.  I will convince my people. I tell them that your colleagues in office spoke so well of you. I just asked about it rather casually…, that’s all.”

“But, I haven’t enquired about you in your office… and at other places. Why should you be so condescending to me, and after all, what for? Sorry, Mr Santosh, we are not compatible. Please tell your people to stop at this.  I can answer my aunt.” And, I bade him good bye.

“You bring your aunt here. If she stays alone there, she can’t remain peaceful and goes on bothering you with one match after another,” suggested Sneha.

“Hum! Her son and daughter in law are already under the impression that I am enjoying all her money. If I bring her here they now start thinking that I brought her here for her gold and all other properties. In fact, it was she who tomtommed that I was a motherless child. She should have told everybody the truth. Anyway, I can’t hurt her sentiments. After all, it was she who brought me up.”

“Then, can you put up with if some Santosh or other comes in and disturbs you every day?” asked Sneha.

***

I did not feel sad for what Santosh had said.

Such words no longer moved me to tears… anymore. True, I wept listening to these very words when I was a child and, perhaps, shed enough tears for a life time. Later, I struggled to contain them at the threshold of my eyes. And only of late, I had realized that tears are very precious and except for great emotions and touching gestures, nothing else is worth wasting them on. I entreated those teary friends of mine to keep their dignity and not to come out often into the open. They understood and were loyal to me.

But with all that, who are they to stigmatize Damayanti and pass it on to me? To pity or condemn us?

As if God had created her just for me, Sneha became my classmate. Later she became my colleague. When we took this apartment together, she had become my friend, philosopher and guide. Next to my brother, only she is very close to me. Sneha was a warm overwhelming brook. She melted away my prolonged silence; helped me come out of my diffidence and straightened me; taught me how to laugh once more, and put song back into my voice. She inculcated the reading habit in me.

As Sneha surrendered her head to the beautician, I sat there silently and lost myself in reverie… On my mind’s canvas black and white images paraded like chiaroscuro.

…….

When I returned home after my music lessons with Soundarya’s mother, the day had already receded from the horizon rather reluctantly, and I found no lamp alight on the veranda. Father was fretting and fuming with anger in that translucent darkness. There was a piece of paper in his hands. Leaning on to a post, my brother was wailing. I wanted to ask my mother what was wrong. Searched all rooms but they were all dark. There was no light even in the kitchen.

“Where is mother?” I asked my father. There was no reply.

He shred the paper in his hands into pieces, made a heap and put a matchstick to it. When my brother hugged me and wept, I too wept bitterly without knowing why. Mother did not turn up. Nobody cooked any food. We slept hungry and tired of wailing. Next morning I found my paternal aunt in the kitchen. I did not like her.

“Where did my mother go?” I asked her.

“To hell,” she answered.

I did not feel like going to school that day. But when father commanded me to go to school in anger, I had to, because I was so afraid of him.  I went to school praying my mother should be home by the time I returned. But no, she didn’t. Days passed… two… three… four.  My mother did not come but I got fever.  I craved for her touch. When my aunt tried to give me medicine I flung her hand in disgust. Fever abated after ten days. For my reluctance to get my hair combed by my aunt, it matted and was infested with lice. My aunt brought a rough comb and started straightening my hair carelessly. The comb grazed my scalp and it started burning. She started speaking all foul words about my mother and cursed her intermittently. I was so furious that I wanted to hit her on the head with a pestle and throw her out of the house.

“Get out of my house,” I shouted at her. I snatched comb from her hands and scratched her hand with vengeance. Blood spilled through the white lines. I thought she would hit me back, or would complain to father to get me beaten. But she did neither. Instead, she took me into her arms and said, “If you want, I will leave this place this very instant. But the moment I go, your father will remarry for the sake of domestic help. Whosoever comes, she will not comb your hair or remove lice, take proper care of you or give medicine putting up with all your tantrums. You are a poor innocent adolescent of hardly ten years. You can’t understand these worldly things. But one thing is for sure… your mother will not be back. She left you people. I came here because your father has asked me. I am here only for your sake,” she said. She was living alone in Vijayawada… separate from her son and daughter in law. Mother used to say she was not on good terms with them.

I asked my brother, “Are you sure that mother won’t come back?” He said yes. He was only four years older than me, but he knew many things and took good care of me. Whenever I refused to take food, he used to explain and appease me.

After a month, he packed up all his belongings and joined a hostel in Hyderabad. To be fair to him, instead of saying he had left, I should rather say, father and aunt had sent him away reasoning out that as a boy he should study hard and the atmosphere at home was not conducive to his studies. One never knows how bitterly I wailed for his absence and for my helplessness!

Coming home from school, I used to run up to the kitchen directly every day entertaining a fond hope that I might find my mother there; and every day I get disappointed and would break down to tears. Refusing the glass of milk my aunt would offer, I would try to leave the place.  First she would get angry with me, then she would try to cajole, and finally she would break down to tears herself. Seeing tears in her eyes made me feel gratified, for, I had a feeling that she was somehow responsible for my mother deserting us. Once she came down to tears I would have my milk coolly and sit idly in the veranda.

“Go to music class!” my aunt would shout at me.

I no longer liked music. Soundarya’s mother was bad and she used to talk just as bad about my mother as did my aunt.  I did not like to learn music from her anymore.  I stopped playing shuttle at the school. I failed in all subjects during my quarterly examinations that year. I rarely talked to my father. In fact, he became such an introvert that he stopped talking to anybody. But on the day he saw my Progress Report he called me to him. He was not angry as I feared. He calmly explained to me the advantages of getting good education. And he promised to educate me so long as I wanted to study. But when he asked me to forget about my mother, I burst out. I held his hands and wailed uncontrollably. Maybe he too was touched; he left the place in a hurry. My aunt hugged me and ran her hands down my back affectionately; gave me water to cool down. How on earth could I forget my mother? I would still inadvertently search for her sari to wipe my mouth when I hurry out after my meal; whenever I noticed the first bunch of blossoms appearing on the Jasmine, I would hop in delight to inform her forgetting she was not there; I would still leave the soiled school shoes as they were with the belief that my mother would tend to them. Many times I struggled hard to keep myself from breaking down when my teacher reprimanded me and I remembered my mother and her absence.

My brother wrote letter on my name to my delight. He wrote it was fine there at the hostel and he made good friends. He advised me to study well without unnecessarily wailing for my mother. And he promised to write me whenever he could find time.

One day as I wiped my mouth to my aunt’s sari frill inadvertently, she turned back, laughed and twanged my cheeks.  That summer my father got a transfer.  My aunt said that he had opted for it.  She introduced me as a ‘motherless child’ at the new place. That means that my mother had died. I was so furious with her for saying so.

“My mother is not dead. She will be back. If you say it again I will not tolerate,” I warned my aunt.  She laughed at me and kept quiet. People said my aunt had great pity for me.  I did not like somebody pitying me. So I did not want to talk to such people. My classmates at the new school also started pitying me. Then I decided not to talk to anybody. For that matter, I did not want to make friendship with anybody. I wanted to keep to myself, to study well and stand first in the class.  I was slowly getting used to the absence of my mother. But how can I forget her? Whenever I looked into the mirror, I would remember her…. my curly hair and my eyebrows and even my complexion… were all hers, they say. If I had not left for school that day, perhaps, my mother would never have gone. Even she bade me good bye that day standing at the gate!

As we were getting used to the new place and new people, and me to the new school, father went on tour for one week. Before he left, he gave a chain and a pair of bangles of my mother to my aunt asking her to keep them under safe custody for my sake. She somehow appeared very sad to me then. And when my father returned, there was a woman with a big suitcase beside him.

My father asked me to treat her as my mother. “Come what may I won’t do that,” I said to myself.  One day I saw my aunt packing up. When I asked where she was leaving, she said she was going back to her place. I entwined her legs with my hands fearing that she might really leave and begged her to take me with her. Father objected saying that I would be missing my school. Pining for my mother and my aunt, I fell sick and ran high fever. I wanted to die.  Meanwhile my aunt came to see me. I bear hugged her lest she should leave me once more. This time, she took me with her and joined me in a school there. When I looked for a towel to wipe my hands after the meal, she offered her sari frill. When I wanted to put the plate in the sink, she asked me to leave it as it was, and she would attend to that. To straighten my hair and arrange it into neat tresses she brought a smooth new comb from the market.

Every week she gave me shower with soap nuts; took me to cinemas; and volunteered to share her bed with me. Now, I couldn’t do with my aunt those playful things I did with my mother … like making her run around for me after applying oil to my head before taking the shower; or, to run away in another direction saying “I am there in few minutes” when she called me for lunch; or leaving the glass at the window after taking milk to make her mock-angry with me. I was afraid that my aunt might send me back to my father and to the woman he wanted me to treat her as my mother, if I angered her with my behaviour. So, I implicitly obeyed her.  Whenever nightmares troubled or thunders or power failures frightened me at night, I would attempt to nestle close to her but refrain. She would then herself draw me close to her. Remembering the woman my father had asked me treat as mother, I would snuggle closer to my aunt. Well, even if I had missed my mother’s touch, I felt, my aunt’s touch and caress was the next best.

People used to say, “Who would take such care of a motherless child?” and I thought it must be true. They used to advise me not to make my aunt angry. I agreed. After all, it was she who was sending me to school and treating me like her own child. She was very good at heart. But she always abused my mother and I did not like that. Slowly, I learnt to hide my displeasure and leave the place whenever she did that.

When I was scared of the blood stain in the back of my skirt and ran home wailing one day, she reassured me by explaining what it was, and said, “Now you are grown up girl! You should not wail for every little silly thing. You are my darling.” She celebrated the event and bought me new clothes. Spite of all that, she could not replace my mother. But she loved me the most, and, that kept me still alive and ticking; And I was able to study well. “After all I am not alone; I have my aunt,” I felt.

 My father and the woman he asked me to treat as my mother came and introduced a boy and a girl as my brother and sister. I decided that I would never treat them as my brother and sister. The woman also presented me with new clothes and caressed me over my head.  She was my step-mother. Many people including my aunt said that step-mothers won’t have genuine love for their step-children. So I did not like her even if she had brought me new clothes and caressed me on my head.

*

Anuradha teacher was reading and explaining “The Forsaken Merman” of Mathew Arnold.

“Call her in your voice! Children’s calling shall touch a mother. Come on. Say this: “Mother! We can’t live without you! These billowing tides of the sea are frightening us.’ You call her.” The merman was making another attempt with his children to call back their mother who deserted them.

He was reminiscing: “sitting on the golden throne of this ocean empire, it was only yesterday that you sate the youngest child in your lap! The church bells chimed then…”

Whatever lesson she teaches, Anuradha teacher forgets herself and becomes one of the characters of the lesson. The Mermaid had left her husband and children. The Merman was goading the children to call her back.  The teacher was so involved that her voice grew hoarse as she had become the Merman. She was reciting the lines of the Merman: “Here came a mortal, but faithless was she.” I was listening. Tears were flowing down my cheeks.  The lesson had come to the last. The last lines… “There dwells a loved one, but cruel was she”… As the teacher was uttering these lines the last bell rang. How I came home I don’t know, but I scurried out of the class in a hurry not to betray my tears.

 “But cruel is she!” was ringing in my ears. I banged the photo of my mother I brought with me when I came here with my aunt, on to the floor in anger.  Then I picked it up the paper and got it laminated so that it won’t break a second time. But I tucked it at the bottom of the trunk. I wept my heart out. “Cruel is she!” I wondered how my brother was so stoic. It was I who wailed for her, craved for her, yearned and was angry with her. But still I could never forget her. She was my shadow… a shadow that was long now, short next time and disappearing altogether sometimes, make-believing it did not exist.  She was my mother… a mother who made me a motherless child; a mother who made my childhood an ocean of tears.

As I slowly understood where Damayanti had gone, I wrote to my brother: “Does our mother love that person more than you and I? Doesn’t she bear any love for us at all? At least she could have taken us along with her?”

He replied: “Poor chap, when you could not treat her as mother whom father had asked you to treat as mother, how can you treat him as father whom mother asks you to treat him as father? Wherever we lived, we would have had only one parent. Forget about these things and get on with your studies.”

*

“The day when I had brought you with me when I saw you wailing locking my legs with your hands, I did not think I would be able to keep you with me this long. We have become so close. I realized how much a girl child could add to life when she moves about in the house. You brought all my efforts to fruition and are successful in your studies. Go! Take your father’s blessings now before joining in the new job.  He is your father, after all. Take some sweets for children and clothes for your father and her…” advised my aunt. She hugged me close to her heart before parting.

I asked my father for the first time “Why did mother leave you? Did you not look after her well? Why did you tear off the letter she addressed to you? We could at least have known the reason why.”

If my age had made me bold, his age might have mellowed him. Looking all around and ensuring that the one whom he asked me treat as my mother was not there around, he said, “Child! I am a down to earth man. She was a heavenly spirit. She could not adjust to this mundane life and so had left. There is nothing more to say.”

*

Another heavenly spirit had walked away with her singing… “Let me take you to the realms of stars”… Did she get the love she sought after, at least there? How should I know?

—–

When I cannot concentrate on the book at hand or when sleep plays hide and seek with me, I get a call from my brother across the coast of Atlantic. Only he knows exactly when to call me.

“What news baby?” he asked.

“One Santosh from Samalkot had assured me that he would convince his parents even though I was the daughter of Damayanti. Of course, he had already made thorough enquiries with my colleagues,” I replied.

“What more you need, then?  He blessed you. Best of luck. He must be very shrewd. Along with tying the marriage knot he would also stick a stigma of your mother on your forehead and use it conveniently when necessary. You will be indebted to him for your life for his generosity. And if per chance sometime in future you become conscious of your education, your job and intellect and give him rejoinders, that stigma of your mother will work like a paperweight…” he laughed.

But I returned to my ever haunting question, “How our mother could forget us in the first place, tell me?”

I love asking the same question again and again, and hearing his usual answer and his philosophising in an emotionless voice.

He answered as confident as ever:

“Baby! Don’t you think that she has a right to her life and mould it the way she wanted?  We can’t demand sacrifices from her for our sake. We can never know the circumstances that prompted her to leave us, unless she reveals them on her own.  Leave it at that. Pray, as our mother, she should be happy wherever she is.”

“Then what about the agony I suffered all along?”

“Then, what about the agony she would otherwise have had to put up with if she remained with us?”

I had no answer.  I don’t know what answer she had!

***

P. Satyavathi

Indian

P Satyavathi

A postgraduate in English Literature, P. Satyavathi was a Lecturer of English at … College. She is a noted short story writer, and a bilingual translator .  She is a blogger running her blog : http://satyavathi-p.blogspot.in/ since june 2010.

Read the Telugu Original here: దమయంతి కూతురు

ఉత్ప్రేరకం … సారా క్లెగ్ హార్న్ , అమెరికను

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ఎండా, గాలీ, వానా, చలీ ఎరగక

స్వేచ్ఛగా పెరగడానికి అవకాశంలేక

బలహీనంగా తన కొమ్మకే వాడి వాలిపోయిన

ఒక బోన్సాయ్ మొక్కని చూసేను నేను.

ఇంతలో ఒక మనిషి లోపలనుండి వచ్చి

ఇలా అన్నాడు దానితో:

“ఓ తెలివితక్కువ మొలకా!

ఇక్కడే హాయిగా సంతృప్తిగా ఉండు!

ఎప్పుడూ తడిగా ఉండే ఈ చోటూ, బూజులూ, గెత్తమూ

నువ్వు పొడుగ్గా పెరగడానికి ఎంతో దోహదం చేస్తాయి.

అదిగో, ఆ గోడమీద కనిపిస్తోందే,

ఆ ఎండపొడదాకా పెరగడానికి సహాయపడతాయి.

ఇంకా అతను చెబుతూనే ఉన్నాడు. ఇంతలో

ఉన్న ఆ ఒక్క సూర్యుడి కిరణమూ కూడా,

వెనక్కి తగ్గి, సంధ్యని ఇంకాచీకటిమయం చేసింది.

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సారా క్లెగ్ హార్న్

(February 4, 1876-April 4, 1959)

అమెరికను.
.
The Incentive
 .

I saw a sickly cellar plant
Droop on its feeble stem, for want
Of sun and wind and rain and dew—
Of freedom!—Then a man came through
The cellar, and I heard him say,
“Poor, foolish plant, by all means stay
Contented here: for—know you not?—
This stagnant dampness, mould and rot
Are your incentive to grow tall
And reach that sunbeam on the wall.”
—Even as he spoke, the sun’s one spark
Withdrew, and left the dusk more dark.

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Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn

(February 4, 1876-April 4, 1959)

American Miniaturist Poet

Cleghorn’s poetry is largely didactic  in nature, serving to illustrate Christian Socialist values and progressive political and social principles. Her most widely known poem “The Golf Links” is an ironic and satirical look at child labor. Her first volume of poetry “Portraits and Protests” was published in 1917 and her second “Peace and Freedom” was  published in 1945. Her autobiography published in 1936 was prefaced with an introduction by Robert Frost.

(excerpted from Wikipedia)

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