Bharathiyar Poem Translation- The Heart cannot Endure

National Songs

15. Current State of the People of Bharatham1

(Original poem by Bharaithyar)

1.  The heart cannot endure
Dwelling upon fickle minded humans,
Who live in deathly trepidation –
There is nothing in this world that doesn’t frighten them;
‘Wily ghosts’, they claim,
‘Dwells on this tree, lives in that pond,
‘Sleeps on the roof’s crest,’ – distress themselves,
In rumination, frighten themselves.         (The heart…)
Continue reading “Bharathiyar Poem Translation- The Heart cannot Endure”

Ramblings on a Word – Anathema

Viewpoint

branches
Image by Shelly Paul

Anathema – much despised, accursed

Today, I read a news headline about how the world has been brought to a standstill by COVID-19. This type of news headline is not uncommon in times of great calamities, where planet Earth and human beings are used interchangeably, as if these words are synonymous, as if we are the world.

I find myself using these terms interchangeably and bite my tongue as I realize my ignorance stemming from the arrogance of being human, because as grand is the human ego, we are not the world. We are just one species on this magnificently intricate planet and as such we belong to the Earth. The Earth does not belong to us.

Therefore, the world has not come to a standstill because of the novel strain of the Coronavirus, humanity has come to a standstill which is actually a good thing for Mother Earth and our sibling creatures on this planet. Continue reading “Ramblings on a Word – Anathema”

Ramblings on a Word – Perfection

lone leafImage by Shelly Paul

Perfection – Everything has to be just so

If mother nature adhered to our current definition of aesthetic perfection – largely governed by the rules of symmetry – rivers would flow in perfect straight lines and turn corners at precise right angles, mountains would be pyramids, trees in the forest would be aligned in perfect straight lines like military battalions, where each tree would stand ramrod straight, every branch attached to the trunk at an exact angle of forty-five degrees, every leaf in perfect symmetry. The ones that do not adhere to this rigid perfection would be shed by the tree for its non-conformity.

Nothing out of place. No grey areas. No anomalies. Because anomalies are viewed as irksome, simply because they do not conform with the majority. Such perfection in mother nature would not only be boring in its monotony, but would jeopardize life on this planet because of its unforgiving rigidity. Continue reading “Ramblings on a Word – Perfection”

Ramblings on a Word – Corruption

Golconda forts, hyderabad.
Image by Shelly Paul

Trolley Tales – Madras and DC

Corruption – Corrosion of functionality

Have you ever stood by the luggage carousel at the airport, watching baggage flow down the conveyor belt in large intermittent bunches?

Well, if you stood at the international airport in Chennai, you’d see a few hundred people at crowded around a carousel with their eyes fixed longingly at the vertical flaps at the beginning of the conveyor belt waiting for the bags to appear. After an interminable wait, one or at the most two large suitcases would traipse down on the pleated rubber sheets.

After it gets picked up, the empty conveyor belt would do two more rounds before the entire sequence repeats itself at an excruciatingly slow pace. The passengers – several of whom would have flown half way around the world, would have finished their disembarkation process in less than thirty minutes but would have to wait for nearly two hours before they can pick up their bags and leave the airport.

On our trip to India last year, the frustrations of the slow filling baggage carousel at the Madras airport were compounded by trolley complications. Continue reading “Ramblings on a Word – Corruption”

Ramblings on a Word – Imagination

IMG_1729
Image by Shelly Paul

Imagination – The ability of the human mind to visualize/conceive the intangible.

If we had imagination, we would understand that we live on the surface of a giant sphere and not on top of a flat board. The reason Earth appears flat to our vision is because, we are a tiny speck on this planet, which makes us disproportionately small to be able to see the entire size of the giant ball.

Instead of arguing with the scientists, we would be able to verify this fact for ourselves personally, if we were giants towering over the planet, with our head reaching past the atmosphere to be able to see the globe in its entirety. Since we are not, we should probably talk to the tiny ant on top of a basketball, about the shape of the object it stands on, and it would say that the basketball it crawls on, is as flat as a pancake. And of course, we would know that the ant is wrong, because we can see the ball, just the way the astronauts can see our planet from space. Continue reading “Ramblings on a Word – Imagination”

Ramblings on a Word – Geography

Kathy D/Paper and ink imaginings/father's day car map
Kathy D/Paper and ink imaginings

Geography – Terrain and weather that shapes cultures and customs

When I read O’ Henry’s short story, “Soapy”, I could not understand Soapy’s attempts to get imprisoned for the duration of New York’s winter.

At that time, I was living in the tropical part of India, where winters were mild, offering a much needed respite from the oppressive heat of summer. Having lived only in the tropics, where people went to cooler places to escape the brutal heat of summer, I was unable to understand why anyone would want to escape winter.

Several years later, when chance brought me to the east coast of USA, I was able to hold in my hand – the beautiful crystals of snow as they fell in silent showers, painting the world monochrome. What I also came to experience was the merciless cold, as Old Man Winter breathed his icy breath on us during these months.

That’s when I understood Soapy’s desperation. Continue reading “Ramblings on a Word – Geography”

Quote on Equality

“…(Jose Arcadio Buendia)went back to being the enterprising man of earlier days when he decided upon the layout of the streets and the location of the new houses so that no one would enjoy privileges that everyone did not have.”
From the novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, by Gabriel García Márquez, translation by Gregory Rabassa’

Nation Dysfunction – The Magnanimous Minority

marionette
Image by Shelly Paul

When the economy began to self-destruct, the government of the nation of Dystopia took drastic actions to mitigate the catastrophe. It resorted to well touted austerity measures.

A majority of government funds were diverted from various departments to stem the financial hemorrhage, which resulted in a budget crunch. Since a balanced budget is paramount, after much deliberation marked by tormented debates and emotionally charged discussions, the elected members to the parliament decided with a heavy heart to stop funding essential services to the public.

Since the public needed these services at any cost, the government made the inevitable decision to privatize core government services. Everything, from schools to prisons, was contracted out to private entities. To pay the private contractors, taxes were raised on the majority of the population. The billionaires and the zillionaires were shielded from any tax increase, since Continue reading “Nation Dysfunction – The Magnanimous Minority”

Mother India’s Daughters

How did Mother India get to a point, where an innocent young girl was raped, torn apart and discarded on the side of the road bleeding, to death? While an angry nation spilled out on the streets to protest, a tender, fifteen year old was being gang raped in Bihar. Yet another young rape victim from Punjab killed herself after being subjected to the pornographic interrogation by the police.

In an effort to diminish the protests, the shameless and irresponsible police along with the criminally negligent government have the audacity to blame the atrocity on the victims themselves, by talking about cosmetics and discotheques.

What has make-up and disco got to do with a woman being raped? Continue reading “Mother India’s Daughters”

Planet Primitive – Neutralization

balinesecouple/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul

….while, on Planet Primitive, in the nation of Dysfunction, it was the year 140 BTLM(Before The Lone Man). A hundred thousand men had gathered in the nation’s capital to protest the passing of a bill into law.

The throng of protesters gathered around the parliament building spilled on to the adjacent street, flowing to the other end where the wrought iron fence surrounded the Presidential palace.

The protesters chanted slogans and banged on the fence from time to time, expressing discontent. The placards and banners they held cried out the deplorable state of men in the matriarchal nation of Dysfunction. Any minute now the parliament would finish voting on the ‘Neutralization Bill’. The air was thick with tension.

Within the compounds of the Parliament and the Palace stood a barricade of the Women’s Elite Police force, armed with taser and guns, ready to go off at the slightest provocation. A tall wrought iron fence separated the mob from the police. The clamor was growing, the police tense, and braced for the uproar. Continue reading “Planet Primitive – Neutralization”