D. Vinayachandran

The Studio

She is nude

if you call the flower freshly blossomed nude.


soft as a rose apple.

Round her

is a yellow snake.

Its head

touching the right of the belly button,

moves up between the breasts,

round the shoulder

and down back from around

the right shoulder,

now round the right breast,

now round the left breast,

and then up from behind

five times loosely around the neck,

once tight round the trunk above the breasts,

covering the nipples,

and then up back from the forehead,

and again down back

eight times round the buttock

to disappear

down beneath

the navel.

She is awake.

Her lower half is termite-infested.

On her right thigh,

in the part clear of termite cover,

is a blood spot.

Snake slough in the left leg.

Blood-stained sheaths

between the parted thighs.

She has the .eyes of a snake.

Her head is the garuda

that bites at a thousand hoods.

The left palm a blooming triangle

with fingers turning into boughs

that partly cover the sun.

The fingers of the right palm'

brushing the stars gently

as on the strings of alyre.

She is awake

in the canvas that fills the room.

On the canvas

a distant forest stream down left,

an idle monkey sitting on a tree stump on the bank

and an angel with outstretched wings on the tree.

The gaze quickly slips off .

The frightening whirlwind

in the sea of her navel.

She is awake.

In front of the canvas a women of  fifteen , asleep

in the room

Littered with things.

She is Naked

A spider walks gently

across her back.

She is sleeping

and sleep,

is sweating.

Another corner of the room,

he, his back against all this

drawing this picture

of a mother suckling her baby.

The flitter of heavenly love in the mother's eves

and the baby's ecstasy.

he has copied it all.


Near him are a few coffee mugs

with the coffee undrunk,

gone cold.


A cat comes,

licks at the heels

of the sleeping woman,


ignores the world-lost artist,

and wags its tail

to see the big paining

of the snake-entwined woman.

The wind knocks down

the flower-vase on the sill

and the cat leaps out

The garuda's head,

the snake's eye,

and the whirl windy sea

are all awake

in the canvas

filling the room.

On the floor

the woman asleep

bends her right leg,

presses her right palm

against her right breast.

She is asleep

in a pool of sweat.

He has started painting,

the right breast of the mother

for the suckling baby

to rest his left hand on.

Outside loiters

the daylight of a Sunday

that has not declared a holiday for itself.

Translated from (he Malayalam by P.P. Raveendran )


A desert

Grows slowly into our midst.

Those who listen to the song of the moonshine

Don't hear the gentle sigh beneath the soil.

They don't realise that

Singed by it children cry out all on a sudden

Leaving aside their toys with numbers and figures.

It's true

Swinging their legs splashing

In the water of the river,

The male and the female

Share the permeating fragrance

Of the lone lotus

Beyond the seven skies.

The mountain


Up and up

Opening the star-threshold

Becomes a wing

To the other shore of darkness .

But we

Get into Jalaluddin's car

Split a pill in two and give one portion

To Gradpa Augusthy

Meeraben's pigeons disappear

In the billowing smoke from the factory.

On the bitter gourd

Little worms and pesticides.


Unaware of the advent of its warriors

The sarod, the clock and the Sindhu scripts

Climb aboard the ship on expedition

To Atlantis.

As one drinks the water kept in the fridge

Together with the novelty of infatuation

The festive flags of the oncoming

Big festival of the desert

Has already been hoisted.

Yet poets

Seek the message of deliverance

Putting their ears to their Sweethearts' bellies

In the midst of the storm of suppressed ire

A nestling ventures out on a flight lesson.

The tears of

The lone traveller sitting in the cemetery

Prays '0 Universe

Give me too a wave to ride on

To escape drowning in your ocean.'

But the shadows that bade farewell

To the trees

Push the gate open with the wheel-barrow

Of the coffin-maker

The desert has already made

A strategic advance into our minds

Without any warning.

Curfew for love

The rocket of the extremist

Into the Holy Eucharist

Chemical and biological warfare

In amorous unions

Guard of honour

For the celebrity guest

With the wounds sustained

By those remained.

The body doesn't get wet

 Even after dipping in the river.

Pilgrims animal-chariots

Tree-priests blazing moonbeams

Pretty little handbells

The so-called globe-trotting youths!

And the crazy Thoma whose gospel

From the rubbish-heap proclaims himself

As the anti-Christ

All become the sirens presaging catastrophe.

The several layers of the desert sands and deconstruction

Like an election notification

The heir to several million graves

Is the lord of the earth.


From among the skulls scattered aroud

A sunrise

The seven leaves

That seek the branch of a tree

The stream of milk that seek

The nipple of love.

Every week

Good Friday3 devoid of sleep.

Translated from Malayalam by AJ Thomas


1. 'Ulakam Chuttunna Valiban' is the original line. Ulakam Suttrnm Valiban is the name of a blockbuster Tamil HIm starring the legendary MGR, who, even though in his late fiHties, played the role of the hero in his early twenties, provoking the Malayalee genius to cynical witticisms, calling any youth-aspiring, ageing fop, 'Ulakam Chuttum Valiban'-literally, a youth who is a globe-trotter.

2. 'Thoma' is a derogratory diminutive of "Thomas'. Sometimes it is indicative of condescending familiarity and often a pet form of address.

3. The Malayalam equivalent of Good Friday is Dukha Velliyazhcha, or Grief's Friday, obviously referring sensibly to the day Christ died a horrible death.


o does the sun fade, does the dusk

fall all of a sudden? I have not

yet started washing my soiled clothes;

my thought flies somewhere looking for

ears of com and today not even a single

chempaka flower did I to put

On your lovely dark hair, nor was I able

to sing the song that I had scribbled

in the heart of my heart for you,

my smelly sweat has not dried yet;

then why did you come uninvited

o dusk fuming grief?


The pig, myopic in the sun,

felt its way sniffing

and rubbed its snout

against the legs

of the lady typist.

Gaurishankar and I

engaged in repairing the clock

went to the shop selling

watermelons under the poomarulhu'.

Over there above the dense foliage

unknown migratory birds

fluttered restlessly.

chempaka- a flowering, shady tree.

Two girls who came

riding a scooter enquired,

while drinking the melon juice,

about the ayah, the known


When we returned to the office

Helen Mathews spoke about

the new researches into ESP.

Do you believe that the mind

is made of invisible molecules?­

Oommen Varghese stood

leaning against her and asked.

Out in the grove

the growl and commotion

of cats mating.

I am the sea that went on fire

before the darkness was on,

and would continue to be on fire

even when the darkness has ended.

Requests for leave

from the souls not present

ejaculations in sleep,

the formless spirits

so long on a journey

from dead stars

shaking one from sleep.

A revenue stamp for

twenty paise, fast-food,

STD, a TV serial

in thirteen episodes, the papanasini

everything cirumambulates.


seeing the armpits of

Jawharunnisa raising

her arms for books,

my hand writes goblin

in my pants-pocket.

D. Vinayachandran (b. 1946) is one of the most influential modern poets writing in Malayalam today. He has published six vol­ umes of poems, one collection of short stories and a play and has won many prestigious literary awards. He teaches Malayalam language and literature at the the School of Letters, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam. Responding to a query formula Vinayachandran made the following observations on his poetry:


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