Wednesday, April 1, 2009

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
than 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 loitering in the President's Moghul garden.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, the abdomen?
With blooming of these flowers
Joyous are our latrine-like lives.

These are parijats of the earth,
In every village, every city.
that’s why we shall have to nurture the street of flowers
as one would care for a silkworms.

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 Phoolo )

Translator’s note:
The poet replaces Phool, i.e. Flower, for Dhed, i.e. derogatory word for Dalit used in Gujarat

1. Reference to dalit president

2. Vaisnavite pooja ritual

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