WHERE IS THE FACE?

Padmasri Vishnu Narayanan    Namboodiri

 ‘But where is the face?’ I ask amazed;

Silent as a sage there sits my friend.

In the picture he drew of the grand Carnival

The flags are there, elephants, umbrellas

And the crowds of people robed in deep colours.

But no one has a face: is this fellow

A total crank or a great philosopher?

 

And in the evening as I stand

Restful at my old gatehouse,

A huge procession passes by me:

Those who wear trousers and pants,

Those who wear headgear and cap,

Meticulous in every step.

The leaders whisper to each other thus:

‘Where is your ace?’ ‘Oh, where is yours?’

 

As the landslides in my soul far deep

Crammed with the springs of compassion

For crowds struggling like insects in

Hot oil lamps, I promptly raise

My handkerchief to wipe my tears;

But it touches nothing: What! emptiness?

Startled and stunned I rush to my room

Trembling, and at the mirror on the wall

I take just one look; above the collar

My God! I too have no face at all?

***

This is a translation of Malayalam poem “ചിത്രം”. In Malayalam this poem has 3 stanzas titled Chitram, Jatha and Chaya. The poem is translated by the poet himself (Padmasri Vishnu Narayanan  Namboodiri) . To read the poem in Malayalam : http://www.akshra.org/%e0%b4%9a%e0%b4%bf%e0%b4%a4%e0%b5%8d%e0%b4%b0%e0%b4%82/ 

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