Poems by T P Rajeevan

Father

A thousand full moon you have seen though,
Father, you are still that naughty child.

Just now, I saw you toddling in the veranda
But you disappeared, and come back
bleeding from the Knee or ankle.

Does the ghost of that old tractor
we sold as scrap possess you? I doubt
when through the glass I see you
lying connected with tubes, wires and needles.

Once your estate had no boundary
nobody could stop you from anything
and you didn't mind falls.
For obstinacy, you are still that landlord!

Father, you have become a yogi!
For you days and nights are alike
rope is the serpent and serpent the rope.

Like a tree its roots from the eroding soil
you rip up your ears and eyes from the air
and go for a walk in life's thorny forest
as you used to in our coconut grove.
I remember the morning glow on your face then
now, it's pain.

Father, as you without fail, fail to recognise me
I understand
memory is just a companion in prosperity,
forgetfulness is the faithful comrade the whole time.
Revelations need no language, you lisp
see how things change overnight
like you becoming my child
                       and I, your father

A Yaksha in America

Yaksha: I am a Yaksha and this lake belongs to me. What is water? Tell me the answer and only after that you can drink the water. 
Yudhisthira:  Sky is the water.
                                 -From the Mahabharata

You may be asleep now.
Not only you,
Our fathers, mothers, children
Brothers, neighbours, enemies
Our dogs, cats, cows
And the dead we imagine
On the stones in the southern yard
Also may be asleep.

Our continent
Our country
Our language
Our shrines, graveyards,
Our bazaars, bathing ghats
Our martyrs’ tombs
Our parliament
Our ministers, priests, poets,
Our revolutionaries, prophets
All may be in darkness.

Tonight too
You may have forgotten
All that you forget before you go to bed.

There might be leftovers on the table,
Water dripping from the toilet tap,
The fan in the sitting room rotating simply,
A midnight movie playing on the T V for nobody,
The front window open,
By which, your unconsciousness may be saying,
A light or a shadow is passing.

Now, you may be turning to the other side
Chiding me for coming late as usual;
Though asleep, you are careful to keep your gown tidy.

I’m now on the other side of the earth though
I can touch you now
I can close the book that remains open on your bosom
Switch off the song that glides over you.

Continents, mountains, the great oceans,
Strange customs and the unknown languages
Were between us
Only when we were lying close
Touching each other.

At Madison Square
I met a baby squirrel yesterday.
It hasn’t heard about our Vedas or the Epics,
It hasn’t read the Kamasutra, Arthasastra or the Natyasastra
It doesn’t know Vivekananda, Gandhi, or Jawaharlal Nehru
But, it knows you
It can understand our language.

Not only it,
The snow in Chicago
The rain in Iowa
The cold wind in Virginia
The trees on the Mississippi
All speak our language.

Now, sleep may have crossed the border of our country
It may be moving the route through which
Alexander, the lame Timur, Vasco de Gama and Viceroys came;
The Arabian deserts may be half asleep now
Europe may be readying for sleep.

A few moments from now on
When you get rid of morning hangovers
I too will have slept;
But this pain,
From which province of my body or mind it originates,
I don’t know,
Will remain awake
Even then.

[Translated by Poet]

T P Rajeevan (Thachom Poyil Rajeevan) Born 1959 at Paleri, a rural village on the banks of the Kuttiady River in Kozhikode district, T P Rajeevan writes in Malayalam and English. In English, he has published a novel (Undying Echoes of Silence), and two poetry collections (Kannaki, and He Who Was Gone Thus). He has also edited an anthology of poems (Third Word: Post Socialist Poetry) with Croatian poet, Lana Derkac.