K. Siva Reddy

K. Siva Reddy is one of the most powerful poets in Telugu today. Rural agricultural life and nature in all its variety, childhood, women, immense faith in man and life, oppression, exploitation and revolution, power of the collective strength and the power of the word are some of the recurrent subjects in his oeuvre that spans more than three decades of his life.
K. Siva Reddy (b. 1943 -), won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1990 for his collection of poems Mohana! Oh Mohana! He has published eleven volumes of poetry. He taught English for many years at Vivek Vardhini College, Hyderabad and retired as its Principal a few years ago.

M. Sridhar and Alladi Uma have been translating for many years. Among their recent publications are ~eware, the Cows are Coining! (Sahitya Akademi, 2003) and Ayoni and Other Stories (Katha, 2001). They have helped journals like Indian Literature and The Book Review bring out special issues of Telugu Writing. They teach English at the University of Hyderabad.


In front of me a half-drunk water glass
a coffee cup like a lake with slushy water underneath─
With coffee lips the cup drinks me.
The coffee cup like an oasis of the empty chair-deserts
sips me slowly, endearingly.
Not just men, but things too have lips.
There are neck regions, breasts, fingers of nets, eyes of
diverse angles.
Even if we don't notice they imprint looking towards us.
They adorn the fingers furtively, invisibly like rings.
If we bend down like that, place our ear on the cup and listen
music of long tune ago like a song in the dream─wafts by
like that
and spews out smoke like the dormant seas moving in us.
The saint bowing down before the twilight object
becoming one with the music of the object, being moved by
surrealistic realms─
What's there in front, a coffee cup─just beside it
a water glass─I am a being united with the object journeying
without moving.

rcrnslatiorz of `bldhivastavikanga" from Mohana! Oh Mohana!,

The Body

Even as I close my eyes
I can hear closing and opening of doors
the fan moving, the broom sweeping
clanking of cups
filling the water pots
going up the stairs, coming down the stairs
drawing water from the river─
all kinds of sounds─words.
Word-birds hover over me
building nests within me.
A breathing corpse does not decompose.
It floats amidst words like a boat
like a ship on the high seas at night.
I am breathing
even breath is a sound─
an unformed word.
I breathe a mixture of sounds in the air─
emotions behind struggles of all people
tears, war-sounds
breathing as life.
A body with closed eyes is not a corpse─
it is a warship
a forest enveloped in darkness
a river drowned in a forest.
The wind touches me
opens doors, enters and gets out.
I am alive.
My body fertilizes like a field
becomes a fundamental element.
Even when limbs break and hopes shatter it sprouts yet again.
History too grows with my body.
My body does not rot, does not waste itself.
It worships the atom and becomes all-powerful.
The word that originates with the wind as its centre does not
become a corpse, does not disintegrate.
The word taking birth in my womb
lashes continuously like the ocean
encompasses like the sky
brings down showers like a cloud.
If a word takes root in man
man too takes root in words.
The body bears word-fruits
sends out word-arrows.
The body is not a donkey for you to ride on.
The body is not a vehicle for you to tide on.
The body is free and unbounded.
Like a watchful hound
it hunts for its independence
asserting its own person.
Come close, listen carefully.
Don't you hear the twang of word-arrows from the body
the roars rising from this pen?
Come close, look.
The body is blazing
like an unextinguished forest for ages.
The body is blazing.
Touch the pinnacle of my body
you will be flooded with water
you will be flooded with atoms
you will become the earth sprouting revolutions.

(Translation of "Sareeram" from Bharamiti, pp.38-40)

Thirst ---

I am not one who loves loneliness
I find it difficult to bear
find living next to impossible
when pity-curtains move
between me and my friends
between me and those around me
between me and the members of my family.

Life is not pity.
It is a pure right we naturally inherit.
It is not unnatural for a living being to contract diseases
or to get entwined in problems
but it is cruel if pity-worms move in the looks of those around us.
We can fight against troubles
we can fight against diseases
no, what is more we can wage a war against millions of problems
but it is difficult to bear
the sympathy conveyed through
or the puss of pity oozing from anyone's eyes.

In truth
I am not one who loves loneliness.
I am one who breaks down in many ways the barriers between people.
I detest the attitude of considering me a lame person, a cracked pot.
Let me live fighting as long as I live.
Why should you think death clouds have enveloped me?
It's not unnatural for death clouds to envelop nor is it in any sense a matter of pity.
Death comes along with us when we are born.
Each day of our life
we proclaim
in wonder and unopposed
the love of life, the freedom to live
through the mouth of each object, through the essence of
every incident
and depart─
Not a day of our life should we be seen to beg
or to plead or to compromise with anything.
Let's live each day of our life demanding.
Let's live each day of our life protesting.
Let's live each day of our life fighting─
Finally there'll be death, there'll be death following us.
I dislike the look of pity at my death.
I would like my life to be greater than my death.
I detest the sympathy that looks down on my life.
Diseases everywhere─but there are no diseases that sully life.
Pressures all around─but there are no pressures that deceive
Neither the shade of pity nor the shadow of defeat should
fall on the life of movement and fight.
Life is not a falling leaf, not a diseased word.
A sprouting plant, a piercing shoot of dawn.
It's pointless for anyone to show pity or sympathy on another.

The one who desires to live will wear a kirpan, live pitilessly,
The one who desires to live
will live recognising the greenness of life
will live recognising the freedom of life.
I would like my life to be greater than my death.

(Translation of "Pipasa─" from Mohana! Oh Mohana!, pp.83-85.)


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