Three Poems by Ganesh Puthur (Recipient of Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar in Malayalam language, 2023)
A Speech for a Dictator
I will write a speech for a dictator
With a lot of commas
Where he shall pause in grief
for all the blood he has on his hands.
A podium with sharp legs shall be erected
For him to speak,
Piercing into the flesh of innocents he had massacred.
His fellow countrymen will stand in disbelief,
Somebody should be murmuring
“He is either hallucinating us or
Just another lie from the devil”.
When the dictator
Starts speaking like a human and not a beast
For the very first time,
Roses will bloom from the barrel of long guns
Instead of bullets that it spitted throughout the years.
A gusty wind will break all the prison gates
With a loud voice as high as a striking thunder
Erasing darkness from the isolated compound
And the bells of liberty will ring
From the furnace of captivity.
All the CCTV cameras will stop recording
And no eyes behind the screens will stare
At the children passing by a restricted enclave.
No sirens will beam when
A young man draws graffiti at the subway.
Generations will hear the word ‘freedom’
For the first time.
They will stand still in disbelief
With the memories of tyranny flashing through their minds.
The dictator will stand on the stage
Feeling nothingness over his head and hand.
The prevailing silence is now gently disturbed
by the pigeons freed from a giant cage
somewhere in the countryside.
Vembanad Lake and My Grandmother
I had to take a ferry to cross the Vembanad* lake
Every time to see my grandmother
Who lived in the interiors of Vaikom
Which remains untraceable on any map till the date.
She always chewed betel leaves and
Kept a Kolambi near her.
I always loved to travel in the ferry,
To sit and watch the tides,
To feel the breeze,
To peel off the skin of hot nuts and chew it.
But my old Grandmother never had a chance
To even come outside her house for years.
My grandmother gave us upperi and murukk
During the short duration of our visit.
She was always enveloped in the smell of herb oil
She hugged me and a drop of tear fell from her eyes,
Just before I left her on my last visit.
That night, she breathed her last.
When her pyre was set on fire,
I could hear her calling my name with all the affection.
My grandmother's ashes are immersed in the same Vembanad lake.
Now I need not cross the lake to see her.
I can talk to her
Standing by the shores of my side of the lake.
* Vembanad Lake - A lake in Kerala flowing through Alappuzha, Kottayam and Ernakulam Districts
* Vaikom - A place in Kottayam district
* Kolambi - a bowl made of brass used by people who chew betel leaves to spit its juice.
* Upperi - Banana chips
* Muruk - A snack made from rice flour
I look at You
I look at you without you
Knowing that I look at you.
Just like leaves falling from the branches of chinar
And a breeze passing by,
And the gentle touch before it lands on the ground.
Just like rainbows appearing in the sky
After a drizzle that makes the flowers of my garden wet,
And a butterfly dawdling through its petals.
You smile like you have stars
Hidden deep inside your eyes,
And dance like thunder unfurling from the clouds.
Just like a glimmer of light in the darkness
And nightingales crooning hymns of dejection
When a wanderer travels through his solitary pavement.
I look at you without you
knowing that I look at you,
Because now our eyes meet rarely
And silence defines our remembrance…
Ganesh Puthur, a bilingual poet in Malayalam and English, is a recipient of the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar (2023). He has published two anthologies of poetry in Malayalam, "Achante Alamara" and "Amma Varakkunna Veedu," and his English poems have appeared in esteemed publications like The Muse India and the Borderless Journal. A native of Kerala, Ganesh also holds a Masters degree in History from the University of Hyderabad.