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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Poems by Dalpat Chauhan

Translated from the Gujarati by Dr.G.K.Vankar


The first day in school,
the doom’s day.
With trembling hand I did not write
One, two, three…
I wrote
On the fireland of burning desert,
My chest,
My caste.
Since then
‘I am untouchable, untouchable, you can not touch me’,
Echoed in every atom of my existence.
It was an introduction to pain caused by hundred scorpion bites
When I crossed the threshold of classroom
As one climbs the highest peak of Himalayas.
Far from others, in that corner
I got like Shankar
A lonely place.
In the eyes that very moment was born
the dance of destruction of Tripurari
and revolved around.
I would sit there with a precious treasure,
A broken slate in schoolbag.
The time sobbed and the sky was dry.
It was pain of Eklavya at the door of Drona
With recitation of lessons I had rhyme of footfall
But I cannot forget the echoing of my footfall from a distance .
The eye that was dirty
Emptied itself,
The brass pot of tears.

The time of wiping off of nose drip
On dirty shorts and torn-sleeved shirt has fallen off
The line of hate drawn in childhood has become darker.
Like Sahasrarjun I embrace the world in my arms
I measure in my steps the sayings of Bali.
In the eyes circle of sky,
In the head held high
Fire-acid-violence-scholarship too.
O god of hate
I search till day
On which part of my body
Are written the richas of untouchability.
That’s why, o giver of name untouchable,
I ask you
Where is the name that you gave me
Which has tortured me all my life?

(From To Pachhi)

The Conversation on a Magshar* Night

Darling: this I remember
The village pond sings slow song
Magshar shivers: in your lap
With inadequate clothes.

And I , feeling miserable
Whom do I do?

Dear, do you feel cold?
Come close.
But what shall we cover ourselves with?
The Sky or the earth?
In your body the magshar freezes,
Shivers since long.

In this empty moonlight of magshar
Your teeth plays a drum
And in the mosquito song
Darling, how many eras we have to pass?
We can not count
Two things
Firstly, The stars in the sky
And secondly, insults your and mine.
Darling ,
Have you watched your blooming face in the lakes?
I can not afford to buy you a mirror,
In the desire to buy it
How many springs we lived with
I can tell if I can count the wrinkles on your face.

I scratch
The wound scars on your back.
This is the only sign of our being
Companions of this and
Future lives.
you too, remember this?

(From To Pachhi)

* Magshar – The second month of the Hindu calendar

The tortured time

Why do you search me with the shaded eyes?
It was only the give and take of the life bygone.

I know, mother
You aspired for
The bringer of water from the well
You longed to buy
Kambiyu, kandiyu, kediyu1,
You would give auspicious welcome to the gavan1
You longed for kumkum handprint on the doors
But alas!

The Kumkum handprints are
Carved only on the village office
With my own blood.
Smothered breath and smell of burning skin
severed my relation with you.
Your henna hedge dried
Your road to village entry empty
Now why do you search the five footsteps
in your sky: the sun and the moon
will not shine as marriage lamps.

‘Yes, where is my walking stick?’
Your voice drowns and
I ,whose soul is not at rest, imprisoned in
The flask of darkness.
I am the caste of an aak plant
Even if I burn and burn ,
Others are only irritated by the smoke.
I am a plant
Who does not need plough,
I will erupt
Breaking the stones
like the red shades of your eyes.

I remember only those who are dear to God(and I an not),
I am the species of a hawk, I will come back again
To frolic on your courtyard,
the cowdung floor decorated by your old hands.

In the end I wanted to bid you
Last farewell
But the tortured one
Found no time.

Ornaments and clothe bought for marriage

(From Anthology Dundubhi)

The Poet
Dalpat Chauhan

Dalpat Chauhan, born on 10 April 1940, is a retired Government employee. Along with Nirav Patel and Praveen Gadhavi he initiated Gujarati Dalit literature with publication of Dalit Panthers’ Kalo Suraj (The Black Sun). His poetry integrates Sanskrit diction with dialect of north Gujarat.
His collections of poetry are To Pachhi (1983) and Kyan chee suraj? (2001). He has been conferred with more than 15 literary awards, including those of Gujarati Sahitya Parishad, Gujarati Sahitya Academy and Narsimh Mehta Award for all literary genres.
He was editor of Dundubhi (2000), and Vanboti Varta (2000). A widely published writer, his novels are Malak (1991), Gidh (1991), Bhalbhankhalun (2004) and his collection of short stories Munjharo (2002). He has also scripted Radio Plays Patanne Gondrethi (1987-1988), Anaryavarta (2000) and Harifai (2003). His translated short story Buffeloed was published earlier in Muse India.
His address: Plot 928/2, Sector 7C, Gandhinagar 382007. And his Tel.: 079-23244505.