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18 article(s) translated from Tamil

There Was a Bridge in Tekka

Latha’s elderly woman mourns her lifelong friend and the lost Indian immigrant community of their childhood. Tekka is the colloquial name of an old Singapore precinct located around the area where Serangoon Road becomes Selegie Road after intersecting Sungei Road and Rochor Canal Road. Although the name comes from the Chinese dialect of Hokkien and means "the foot of the bamboos," the area has always been associated with the island's Indian community due to its proximity to...

The Visitor

KTM Iqbal considers the inevitable. You shroud us in magic. Wrapping you around us, we vanish, one by one. You alone can unravel life’s tight knots. You are not slumber, but an awakening. Eternal life begins for all who embrace you. O death, who ends all our deaths, Come, beloved guest. All of us wait to receive you,  serving our lives. © KTM Iqbal. Translation © 2016 by Kavitha Karuum. All rights reserved. Translated as part of Translators Lab 2015, co-organized...

Reader

KTM Iqbal reflects on the condition of being a writer With aching hands  I walk  the paper journey  just to catch your eye.  I strike out, rewrite  just to earn a good name from you.  Page after page, I tear out  just so you will not tear me up.  I write  just so I can read you.  In the bookstores,  not only my books,  but you are there too.  Don’t search for me  on the cover— that is my mask. ...

Ayya’s Bicycle

On the previous day, I had gone to Krishna Theatre for the second showing. As a result, I couldn’t wake up early enough on the next morning. I could only get to Nadavarasu Ayya’s house fifteen minutes later than usual. By that time, Shorty Krishnan was well ahead of me. He had placed Ayya’s bicycle on its stand on the front veranda, and was wiping it down. As soon as he saw me, a victorious smile bloomed on his face. I tightened my face and muttered under my breath,...

Two Minutes

1 “A short story by a Spanish writer comes to mind. Can’t remember the author’s name, or the title. It’s just that the story refuses to leave my mind… A Spanish playwright who had written many successful plays. Now he’s writing a brilliant play. It’s shaping up very well. Only the last act remains to be written. At this point, he‘s arrested for having opposed Franco’s authoritarianism and for having plotted against him. He is to be...

The Mother and the Goddess of Night

She has walked and walked for nine long days. All of nine days and nine long nights have passed by. Weary of wandering as she is, the mad woman mutters brokenly, "Have you seen my daughter? have you seen her?" All along the paths she takes the heavy clouds freeze—a thousand birds fly past her in scorn and the wind howls aloud. No man or woman would help her nor would the great gods come to her aid. Wherever she walks, at the touch of her feet all the plants burn and blacken. No...

A Mansion with Many Rooms

With a single stab, the knife entered deep into my stomach and the blood spurted out at once. I have no idea how many more stabs followed. With each stab, only wordless questions arose in my head.  In that dizzy moment, as I fell to the ground, I must have received a harsh blow to the back of my skull. The blood flowing from my head and below my waist felt wet and sticky. If I were to shout very loudly for help, someone might be able to save me, even now. If either Thenmozhi, who lived...

A Mousy, Measly Tale

“What a loveless world,” said the mouse. “You think so?” God smiled back in mock surprise. The sea breeze had just set in, marking the beginnings of a pleasant evening. At the wellhead, under a jackfruit tree at house number 25, Third Cross Street, Mandaveli, Chennai. God reclined smugly on an easy chair,  very much like a laborer content after a full meal. On the circular wall of the well was the mouse inside a mousetrap. The tiny little mouse with...

What Did Sriraman Say?

I saw the Lord, Sriraman, for the first time in an ancient alley in Choolaimedu, playing kittipul with other small boys: no naamam on his forehead. Yet another time on a footpath in Bombay, he was hawking TV covers with loud cries. Just as I passed by, I heard him swearing in Hindi at a north Indian woman who was haggling persistently, The third time, at hotel Park Sheraton, I saw him with a well-known Tamil writer, tunelessly singing a fine poem by Charles Bukowski which was never...

Truth and Lies

1 Raghavan climbed into the compartment, carrying his suitcase. He glanced briefly—just once—at the ticket he held in his left hand. Then he walked up to the seat reserved for him. He placed his case in the luggage rack, and sat down. He raised his head and looked all round the compartment. He could see that only seven or eight people were seated there. He felt disappointed that the compartment was so sparsely occupied. He gazed out through the window and saw people walking up...

Horoscopes

Ayya had great expectations of us. As soon as his children were born, he had their horoscopes cast by a famous astrologer of our village. We were seven siblings. Horoscopes were written for each of us in separate notebooks. Ayya bundled up all of them and locked them away in a wooden chest. We could neither peer at nor pore over them. We were all born at home. And, as if by prior agreement, we were all born during the night. A midwife took care of all Amma’s deliveries. Sometime...

Highway

Along the highways of a refugee’s life snapshots of childhood memories hang: hedges overspread with field bean thick with honeybees, a courtyard filled with goat droppings, the shade of a portia-tree, school children under a neem-tree, a pond swarming with buffaloes woods echoing with the koel’s song the sea-shore where sea-birds call. The highways carry us along to yet other highways.   © 2011 Malathi Maitri. By arrangement with the author....

Revolution Nathan

By rights, the lights should have dimmed as Hemakka spoke. Ilayaraja and his band should have been standing some distance away, playing softly “My Sweet Golden Moon.” Instead, she sat on the front thinnai of our house, without any of these props, cracking open groundnuts as she announced, “I’ve decided to marry Nathan.” There’s a unique smell to raw groundnuts. They combine the scent of the earth and a rain that fell some days ago. But you should never...

Trespass

It struck me later on that, just for a second, I had been off my guard. I lifted my hand in order to scratch the back of my neck. It was only when I brought it back to the armrest that I realized what had happened. At that instant, the young man in the seat next to me had pushed his own arm there. When they provide one seat per person couldn’t they provide two armrests in between? If they don’t provide that much, how can they claim it’s a luxury bus? I was on my way from...

Three Dreams

The first dream… An island surrounded by a green, green sea. Everywhere, trees yielding heavenly fruit. Golden-yellow sand drifts. Fishermen at rest. The second dream… Pale blue fields. Pomegranates, lit up by the sun’s rays Weaver birds’ nests, hanging down, Under the shade, women opening their bundles of food. The third dream… A crimson sea. Gardens caught up and drowning in a vortex. Sand drifts lost in the waves. Fishermen’s wrinkled necks....

Fear

The little one laughs innocently, without blinking at the raised hand. Then one day she feels the pain caused by the same raised hand and her eyes tremble. Fear depends on the mind; the mind depends on experience. At one time the earth’s tremors drove us out of closed doors, out into the open. The sky our only roof, we ate, we slept. The once quaking earth is now an arena for rioters, within our own cages, our doors never opening to anyone’s cry, each with her own identity,...

Ploughing the Fields of Snow

Morning comes with a denuded wind empty of cock-crow and summons of temple bells. Sleep dissolves into the alarm clock’s rebuke yet eyelids droop over eyes refusing to open hands outstretch to meet love’s touch and fall into emptiness. I reach the window, a walking corpse, draw the curtains. The city, sparkling, unfolds. Toronto, like a courtesan, casts off her dark cloak and shows off her seductive contours clothed in white undergarments. The Sun god sits shyly like a...

She

The single kiss That made the worlds freeze With bated breath, tasting of a tear’s salt Is all hers.   Love sowed its blue stars On our private night Covered by a phallic sky. The blood-river that flowed once the body opened Wet the sky through. Wearing pieces of moon, Invisible in light on our bodies, We left for our habitual nests In the final seconds of darkness . . .   Peals of laughter Lie scattered on my bedspread This early dawn.   What is...
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