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Edasseri Govindan Nair  

When Philosophies Sleep

"Everything is fate" 
That was father's faith; 
He had nothing to do but wait.

"History alone is real 
Its developments, all" 
The son had his credo;

The hope of the house, the daughter 
Remained single, withering, 
A plantain one ceased to water,

Daddy had her horoscope read 
That's it! 
She must wait to wed, 
What has been ordained one cannot amend 
Even by a dot, try till the days do end.

To substantiate his stand
He could quote Ramayana
From A to Z.

To this axiom of belief 
The son put an axe 
He can recite Marx 
Like nursery rhymes. 
The decadent bourgeois order, 
Entitled joint-family 
To hell, let it go! 
A girl is no commodity 
To be peddled in market place. 
If domestic felicity 
Be historic necessity 
She can come to agreement 
Regarding such arrangements.

She heard them all 
But understood none. 
When her clothes were torn 
The daughter darned the lot.

She got up one day,
That is, before 
The third quarter of night 
And lit the little oil lamp. 
She spread the mat, and placed a bowl of water 
Her father needs them every morn for his prayer, 
A cup of tea she kept 
Near her brother's bed 
He must have it to be himself.

To the hall she came 
And touched the door 
A flash of lightning reached her core 
Through the doors that gently came apart 
The wide world saluted her resolute heart; 
Stretching its cool soft hand; 
It placed a wreath of thrill 
Upon her head.

Once, she turned to big a silent farewell 
To her home, its presiding deity 
To her brother and sire,
To the loose end of her dhoti 
A coil she tied - 
A token offering to the 
Lord of Guruvayur.
With a fluttering heart, with steps faltering 
She paced down to the yard, 
She paused a while.
Years back, her mother, then a bride, 
Walked in through the same 
Sand-strewn yard

Facing an auspicious lamp. 
In darkness the daughter 
Crossed the very yard 
Her eyes in floods, toes striking stones.

Translated from the original Malayalam  
"Thathwasastrangal Urangumbol"
by Madhavan Ayyappath.

Next poem is Vivahasammanam (Wedding Gift) translated
by T.R.K Marar

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