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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Poems by Dr.Neerav Patel

Translated from Gujarati by Dr.G.K.Vankar

My lord

My lord honored my hundi*..
My lord honored my hundi..
How shall I perform Gagli’s wedding ceremony otherwise?
My oath to deity Chavanda bore fruit
And the young garasani woman died a sudden death,
They draped her corpse with a shroud of red gavan
Flames of her funeral pyre are burning red
And the red gavan is waving at the aak bush!”
Gagli’s mother, the bad woman, is smiling!
‘Let them turn their back
And I shall run to the funeral ghat.
My lord honored my hundi.’

*promissory note
(From Bahishkrut Fulo)

It would have been better if I were illiterate

While studying science,
Watching Newton’s apple fall,
The first thought that I had
Was to eat it.
While learning the lesson of social life
Watching the glass houses on Harijan Ashram Road
The first thought that I had
Was to throw a stone.
While controlling thirst
Watching the water pot at the outskirt of the village
The first thought that I had
Was to raise one leg like a dog and piss init.
The fox went to a city,
Accidentally fell in the dyer’s tank
Became colorful and hence gay,
Went to jungle and showed off posing as a king-
Rather than making stories from such points, with multiple meanings
The last thought that I had
Was to remain illiterate.
Rather than studying and suffer awareness of
Insult, hate and atrocities,
And encourage the inactivity,
It would have been better
If I were illiterate,
I would strike a blow with aadi * on the head of the unjust
Or gulping mahudi** I could have swallowed the insults.

*wooden stick on which dead cattle are carried
** drink made of mahuda
(From Bahishkrut Fulo)

Exiled flowers

If that’s the order we bow our heads.
We will call flowers by any other name,
Will the fragrance die?
And if we call them flowers,
Will the stench go?
Where there is a village, there is a street of flowers.
These flowers since centuries were in the dark
Sometimes ,if they got full moon night, bloomed like lotus.
Sometimes spread fragrance like ratrani
Sometimes would sob like Nargis silently.
But no sooner the sun of this century saw them compassionately then
They began blooming.
with such colors, that butterflies would fall in love.
With such fragrance, that bees would forget to sting.
Everywhere spread the fragrance of these rustic flowers.
Parliament, secretariat, schools and colleges
As if their exhalation alone
Polluted the environment.
Where there is a village, there is street of flowers.
That I understand.
But I cannot tolerate this disgraceful drama of these flowers.
They may enjoy loitoring in the Moghul garden of President’s residence.1
But no, they cannot be in Nathdwara.
May Gandhiji put them on his head,
You trample them, crush them,
These untouchable flowers.
But how will we offer pooja without the flowers.
How will we fill swing of manorath?2
How will we worship our honorable god, abdomen?
With blooming of these flowers
Joyous are our lives like latrines.
These are parijats of the earth.
In every village, every city.
that’s why we shall have to nurture the street of flower
as one would care for a silkworm
If the government orders
We will call flowers by any other name
Will the fragrance die?
And if we call them flowers
Will the stench go?

(From Bahishkrut Fulo)

Translator’s note: The poet replaces Ful, i.e. Flower, for Dhed, i.e. derogatory word for Dalit
1. Reference of dalit president
2. Vaisnavite pooja ritual


Poor Kaliya how he would know
We can not become bold.
He who had taken fat of cow,
barked and barked
like lightening ran
struck like a panther
And caught hold of neck-belt of Motiya.
His cup of milk spilled in the chowk
The pearls of his neck belt scattered in the sand,
And his tongue protruded from the mouth
there were froth bubbles
They enlarged and began to crackle.
Whole village gathered
The rotten Kaliya of the Dheds
he tore away poor Motiya to pieces.
Come one and all -
See, even dogs have become bold.
And all rushed after Kaliya
Kanba and Koli, Bha and Bapu,
The spears and barchhi, danti and stick,
And there was whole army and the battle.
But Kaliya was like a terrifying God
He ran and ran in the deep valley.
So many who were after him
fell rolling, and bit dust.
But Kaliya was like a black deer
He ran and ran.
There is a saying that the defeated army goes to Dhedhwada**
The crowd returned, tired.
And in the vas**.
The sticks fell on the roof
The neem tree and the peepal tree were thrashed
Thrashed the temple of shikotri!, broke the pot of ancestors,
Thrashed Methli* and thrashed Mandi,*
Thrashed Dhuliya* and thrashed Parma*.
Please stop, please forgive us, fathers,
Kaliya is only an animal
While you are the human-gods.
How would poor Kaliya know that
We should not show our strength.

(From Bahishkrut Fulo)

Kaliya is a pet dog of Dalits, Motiya is pet dog of non-dalits
1.Name of Goddess
** Dalit colony
* Dalit names

The remains of name

Who is that Satan sculptor who has
inscribed my name on my forehead?
Why like writing letters on the skin of a tree trunk
You are writing my name
Dipping the knife in my veins?

How I wished to forget my name, that’s why
hiding myself in the midnight I had run away to the city
leaving behind my home and village.

When I came here
the broom bamboo on which I had unfurled the flag of revolution
declared my name on the top of its voice.

I have dissolved every atom of my structure
of name
in the solution of cosmopolitan culture.

I have shredded the skin of my name
And become clean and new
Like some yet to be invented element.
The eye of microscope can not identify me and yet your vulture like eye
Why, ceaselessly pecks at the corpse of my name?

Oh, I am afraid,
Will my name not die even with my funeral pyre?

Reconciliation Convention

Very proudly they say
The sun rises in the east
Then why this primordial darkness does not disappear from the Aryavarta?
It is since ages the tail has gone
And yet why the beast is still alive in the blood?
Rapes, murders, loot, fire and atrocities
On Dalits continually .

Since centuries they do Suryanamaskaras,
They chant day and night the Gayatri Mantra,
Say the prayers ‘from darkness take us to light’
And yet why do the caste hidus do not realize the Sun?

The continent which they call dark
We hear has got light
Hutus of Rwanda had slaughtered
Eitght lakh Tutsis belonging to the same nation and color
In a genocide..
Kofi Annan
Stunned with the African massacre
Appealed , his eyes wet with tears
And they convened a reconciliation convention.
‘ exile the barbarian and establish fraternity/ solidarity.
The culture means equality.
Like the beams of sun embrace each other
And the world will be beautiful’

To get a ray of sun, the precondition is regret.
You recite the poet Kalapi for the Brahmin demons
Who like parrots read the shastras,
‘ The regret is a spring that has come from heaven’.

A dog became a Dwija

Whatever the shastras say
I do say that whatever Brahmin utters is a truth, unshakable.
He can sprinkle water
And a cow-dung turns sacred
And people will eat it as a holy prasadi.
Even an animal can be given sacred thread
If it can sing Gita like the buffalo of Jnaneshwar.
If you gift gold coins
Brahmins will declare shudra Shivaji as kshatriya.

And the matter of this alsetian dog is unique.
He does not ravish meat of cow
But that of Yavan, mlechch and chandal,
All belonging to other religions or to non- religions.
If need be he can howl shlokas from Manu’s theology
Or can bark the of economics
This faithful dog is our servant of sanatan dharma.
He is a swayamsevakAnd also a provider for cows and Brahmins.

I , Giga Bhatt in this meet of Brahmins order
Break the belt on his neck,
Do the upanayan samskara, and leave him free
I declare him to be the best of dwija,
Whatever the shastras say
What Vipra says , so say the Vedas.

On learning that a Shudra minister of Gujarat , allegedly involved in post-Godhra genocide , had sacred thread ceremony

My share of rain

Who knows
Does he please with yagna like a corrupt god bribed?
Or like a cheating Yogi
With the nude dance of virgin farm-girls
Yoked to the plough?

But when it rains in reality
Then they hide themselves under the umbrella
Or quickly shut the window glasses of their cars
Or let free paper boats flowing
And watch the colorful rainbow drama.

The raingoad’s grace falls on my head
With thunder and cyclone.
Like a camel tired of caryring the weight
My hut collapses
And flows like mud
In the Gordhan Mukhi’s farm pond.

The rain is persistent.
On the bank of Jamuna, Kaniya has gone to graze the cows of whole village, 1
And Bhani in the Bhadarwa rain water washes her clothes one after the other.2
In the teacher’s school when it had rained cats and dogs
The dove had thrown a leaf of peepal
To rescue the drowning ant.3

I was also in heart of my heart thought
Like in welcome to god of rain
They would come on a float
Or flying in the air
And will drop some food packets.

However , they continued to sing praise to the floods.
With their yagnakunds, our leather-tanks too overflowed-
Like that they looted water of all
And filled their rivers and springs, the canals and ponds.
Some grew water-parks
And some raised aquariums.
Some irrigated plantations of rice
And earned cash filing water in pouches.

Who knows
in whose farm my share of rain is falling?
Who knows
who reaps my share of crop?
Who knows
The clouds had rained striking against
The trees I had planted
Or with the dreams of passing my famine days
With a fistful of maize?

Who knows?

1.Kaniya here isa cowherd, reference to Krishna
2.A poor girl washes her clothes, one after the other as she does not have another pair
3.Story in schoolbooks to show mutual help: the dove helps the drowning ant and in turn the ant helps the dove.

Operation equality

Without seeing and knowing
Without reading or thinking
Without understanding
You attacked like stupid.

O brother so innocent,
Like this, would communism come?
Water in place of land
Land where there is water
Pit where there is hill
And mountain where there is valley
Only by making such drastic changes
Will there be revolution/?

It is none of your business to be a comrade
You are so sentimental
Leave alone Marx and Mao,
Had you played with a tribal boy in Nuxalbari school
You would do some good.

You are becoming anarchist uncontrolled and
Burn dry and wet indiscriminately.
You devour good along with bad,
In a sentiment if you break everything
Will it make Nav Nirman1?
May be you can make every thing a level,
You can not make every thing equal.
Yes, you chose an auspicious day,
26th January,
the republic day of the nation.

The innocent children of Anjar 2 were
Unfurling the fake flags of freedom, equality and fraternity
And like an anarchist you attacked them at random.

You were so mad with rage that you could not even find a correct epicenter.
Kutch is a land of saints and donors,
There may be a rare outlaws like Jeasal too
O good brother,
For you Delhi or Gandhinagar were not so far.

Yes, you are right.
The time is such that you burn with rage
You may wish to break to pieces the God
Who had promised to reincarnate himself
but has hidden himself
Instead in the idols.

Without seeing and knowing
Without reading or thinking
Without understanding

Some for hang around for a drop of water
Some have high-jacked the lakes and lakes to their terraces
Some crave for a ray of moonlight
While some have hidden entire sun behind their skyscraper.
Some have dried riverbed springs
And some have controlled Narmda and brought to his village.

Eager we too are
Doing all the bonded labor since centuries.
We made them netizens from citizens
And in return we wander exiled
But we are humane:
Our one eye weeps the other is red with rage
We do not wish to make this culture mohenjodaro.
we do not believe like mad Parsuram in the bloody revolution,
We are the followers of compassionate Buddha.

Come, see the effects of your aftershocks.
And repent like the King of Kalinga3.
No one appeared when the cyclone blew on Orissa.
With their NRI connections
The series of overseas flights arrives
And white dogs identify them the stench of their corpses earlier. Rescue relief rehabilitation everything occurs here as per
The hierarchy of varnasham dharma
Government theirs, swaymsewakas theirs
For them at the maternal uncle’s place mother serves the food
And we are the helpless ones!.
The rich Swiss tents were taken away by the leaders and officers
Pyjamas from Pakistan were taken away by the chaddi-banian- dharis.
We hardly had a share of a piece of tin or tarpolin
Their vastushastris said
‘as per their caste, allot them the plots.
We were given the wastelands of the village ponds.
Come, get early salvation by drowning in the ponds!

O kind brother earthquake,
Your operation equality is a failure.
Even if you strike at a Richter scale
of whatever magnitude
You will not be able to remove
India’s social nature and environment.
You may have limitless kindness
And yet you will not be able to realize
Baba’s dream written in
the preface of Indian constitution.

Of course, they will remember
The nights lighted by the stars
though under the shadow of fear.

Hence please do not strike again
Without seeing and knowing
Without reading or thinking
Without understanding anything.

On 26 January 2001 Kutch, Gujarat was affected with earthquake
1.Youth agitation against corruption
2.Kutch town
3.Asoka, who after Kalinga war repented and became Buddha follower

For adults only

I am a worker, I seek employer.
I am a skilled worker:
If not Marx, I know Vatsyayana.
Desi, English, American- Chinese,
I know French, too.

I am a worker, I seek employer.
At evening, I make up
I am a widow but apply vermillion on parting of my hair too.
And apply kajal - bindi.1

It’s time for the business.
I have set out without breast- feeding to the baby-
If the milk overflows,
Spit it out considering it a pan spit.

Women’s empowerment is in the air
And in the era of feminism I am fully liberated.
Let me tell it openly
I am a worker, I seek employer.

I wander on Relief road, Ritchie road, and streets of Ashram road.2
I wander at the entrance of Rupalee, Advance and Natraj Cinemas.3
There is no one in circuit house, the conference is on,
College hostels are empty, students are on vacation.

Poets are flamboyant but empty-pockets
like Guru Dutt:4
They say that the fresh couplet has been stolen
And now promise an epic.

I am a worker, I seek employer.
I am secular, socialist.
I am not racist,
Do not believe in color, caste and creed.
Rama will do, Rahim will do.
Clinton will do, Kalidasa will do.

The employer is my god
And the customer satisfaction is my motto.

Orders readily served.
Cash and carry
Home delivery? Yes , sir!
Hotel delivery? Yes, sir!
The position yours, orgasm yours.
Whip me if you are sadist.
If you bring wine, I will serve it.
I am untouched, like a lotus in pond like Yogini:
Bid me farewell when you finish:
Daughter is waiting at home, to be breast-fed.

The economists say that
with liberalization and globalization
the nights are dazzling.
All industries are at a standstill
The entertainment industry is up, at peak.

ILO 4 says that by definition I am a worker
And am worthy of labor laws.
I have a dream, not at a brothel or at kadiya naka 5
but in a posh commercial complex
I open a corporate house.
Construct a website, book by e-mail,
with network of loveline or chulbuli chat-line
Do global commerce.

I do not wish to offer condom, but Viagra in every street.
Who cares for SITA.6
Now I do not wish to give periodic bribe or free service to the police
Who harass me behind the board of ‘May I help you?’

I am not a servant not a devdasi,
I am a respectable worker,
I am a specially skilled worker,
If not a blue-collar
If not a white-collar,
Give me new status of red ribbon worker.
Not only the new name, give me self respect.

Now, let there be pay commission for prostitute,
Sorry, sex worker.
For the benefit of apprentice
Like astrology
Teach kamashastra and kokashastra in the universities
Rather than gifting STD/ AIDS
Give gift hampers of condoms.
For each and every worker along with
Bed and attached bath
Give crèche and KG,
LTC and maternity benefits.

Now I am revolting.
On the pitch dark night of Women’s Day
I call:
‘Sex workers of the world unite.
We have nothing to lose
Except your chastity chains’.


1. Kajal-bindi , symbols of shrigar, done by married women with husbands alive
2. Roads in Ahmedabad
3. Cinema houses in Ahmedabad
4. Famous Hindi cinema Hero of Pyasa who falls in love with a prostitute
5. A place were daily wagers wait for employer
6. SITA: the poet uses pun: SITA is Suppression of Immoral Trafficking Act

I and the Old Woman

Since fifty-sixty years, they screech
But there is no stuff in their work
It’s hardly five years and they arrive
Asking for vote!

They say that this time
Valo Nameri is in the fray.
All say that he is a good man.
They say that this kind man
Works for the poor since days of Babasaheb.
But among the demons
How does he compare?
Tell now, old woman,
What shall we do this time?

You are innocent by birth, old man-
You toil and toil.
Have you heard that they give ten rupees per head?
And a pack of ganthiya in addition.
A car would take you and drop you back-
Enjoy life a bit in the old age-
Drink a bag if you like,
God bless Valo Nameri
But give vote to Manubhai.
Go, and bargain,
Tell that we have two,
I and the old woman.

Brother, we have heard that they give ten rupees per head.
If you wish to give twelve
We have two,
I and the old woman.
Its not much
Its wages of one day for two.
We will have some rest from toil.
Otherwise, see, we set out for collecting bones
Mago Mehtar will offer five rupees a bagful.
If we get our bread at the end of the day
It’s all.

O brother, we assign the entire kingdom and the seat
Let it be wandering for us.
Tell me, the sun rises
And the old woman is now waiting for long.
It’s a sin
But we have to keep word.
That’s why
The vote will surely go to Manubhai.
Tell me, will you give twelve per head?
We have two,
I and the old woman.

The Poet

Dr.Neerav Patel

Ph.D. in English literature , Dr.Neerav Patel, born 2 December,1950, is a well-known dalit poet and editor. He edits Swaman, a journal of dalit writings, notably pieces of autobiographical prose.
Along with Dalpat Chauhan and Praveen Gadhavi, he initiated Gujarati dalit literature with publication of Dalit Panthers’ 'Kalo Suraj' (The Black Sun).

A bi-lingual writer, his collections of poetry are 'Baghishkrut Phulo '(2006), 'Burning from both the ends' (1980, in English), and 'What did I do to be black and blue' (1987 in English).

He served as a Bank Officer, after his retirement he devotes his entire time to dalit literature and activity. His Phone no. is: 079-26821938, Cell: 09909264914.
e-mail: neerav50@yahoo.co.in