Flowers in The Jail Courtyard.

Poet: A.Ayyappan

Translated by: P.K.N.Panicker

Convicted for Jail.

Four others in the cell,

hardened criminals,

condemned to life terms.


Charges against me,

undesirable friendship,

luxury of forgetfulness,

having witnessed,

perched on hill tops,

the fight of those in the valleys

and guiding my friends

to walk the right paths in life.


Destined only for few days

in the cell

I remained contemptuous

in their eyes,

‘The silly fellow, come to jail!

Not entitled or deserving’;

Their wide exposed teeth

laughed at me

without being too shrill.



about a comfortable cell living

were scorned at,


by the black walls

and the men in uniform.


Discovery of India,

Letters from a Father to a Daughter

and the Prison Notes

led me to believe of a short holiday

but that was not to be so.



For every grain that you ate

you had to toil.


A barber to cut hair,

a tailor to stitch,

for me, to read or write.

But it was not to be so.


I was ordered

to water the plants,

the marigold,

the redixora,

the hibiscus,

the tuberose,

the grass…..


A kiss, stealthily,

noticed by none, to the rose;


The white mussaenda smiles at me

through the window

in the shining moonlight.


Watered all the plants,

dutifully, with affection;

Noticed by none

dropped a sunflower seed

where it could grow;


Watered that too,

every day, watching

whether the seed sprouted.


The day of my release,

my name called;

the plants waved,

all flowers on attention,

eyes turned to me;



My sunflower seed

did indeed sprout


To read the poem in Malayalam :

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