Click on The Way I See It for free download.
This is an anthology of my translations of my stories, and 3 more stories by other writers (my translations).
Your comments will be appreciated.
- Nidadavolu Malathi
November 19, 2023
Click on The Way I See It for free download.
This is an anthology of my translations of my stories, and 3 more stories by other writers (my translations).
Your comments will be appreciated.
Probably, some of you remember this title and the scanned pages of old files featuring various topics on libraries and library administration in Andhra Pradesh.
Thanks to Prof. Ainavilu Usha Devi’s review of the articles posted earlier, and her posititve comments, I felt I should edit, revise where necessary, and degitalize the articles.
The current version is that revised copy of the articles.
Your comments are much appreciated.
November 13, 2023
Click on Critical Essays 2 to download, free.
Previously, I published one e-Book, Eminent Telugu Writers and Other Essays. It has been received very well. Just the number views on archive.org, in addition to downloads on my blog, speaks for itself.
In the past few months, I was engaged in compiling anthologies of my articles, which were not include din the previous anthologies. Three more anthologies are added to my previous anthologies.
The current anthology includes my essays, reviews, and other topics of interest in Telugu literature. These articles are not included in any other anthology.
I hope you will find this anthology also equally interesting.
October 29, 2023
This is my first story written in 1982, after I arrived in America in 1973. T
I tried to illustrate fallacies people in one country entertain about another country.
Six Blind Men
I began my preparation to leave for the United States of America. An ardent patriot and well-wisher told me, “Look, you are an unofficial ambassador of India. Don’t forget that you inherit the spirit of Gandhi.”
“Which one?” I asked timidly.
He cast a nasty look at me and left.
I have a degree in math. I can talk about the Pythagorean theorem. May be a little about Einstein. But about Sankara and Panini?
I rushed to the library and checked out fifty books on every conceivable topic–from Mahatma Gandhi to Indira Gandhi, from Aurobindo to Guru Maharaj ji, from babas to cobras, Hindu religion, Elephanta caves, Meenakshi temple, Brindavan Gardens,…
Then I talked to people who had been to the States and returned to India with valuable possessions and invaluable ideas. They advised me:
“Be yourself. Don’t imitate them blindly an bring shame on our country.”
“Remember, you’ve got to be a Roman in Rome.”
“Take plenty of cotton sarees. Cotton is very expensive there.”
“Don’t take any sarees. No one wears sarees in the States.”
“Americans are highly individualistic.”
“Americans are success-oriented.”
“Americans are honest.”
“Americans expect you to be on your own.”
“Oh! It’s heaven. The streets are paved with dollars.”
“The American girls are pretty and friendly. May be you can get me a date,” one of my brother’s friends hoped.
One of my nieces secretly told me that I should send her four packets of that revolutionary pantyhose which was advertised in the latest issue of a Bombay fashion magazine.
I was also educated on such details as how to hold a fork, when to say ‘thank you,’ when to say ‘you’re welcome,’ which car, which toothpaste..
Finally I arrived in New York with a suitcase that was half empty and a handbag loaded with Andhra pickles. If the customs officials thought I was crazy, they hid it very well.
After a week-long sleep-eat-sleep schedule, I woke up one beautiful morning. I looked out of the window.
The first snow of the season!
The first snow of my life!
Glistening white flakes of snow floating in the air, settling gracefully on the tree tops, roofs of houses, cars, bicycles, people.
I was thrilled!
I pulled my winter clothes out of the closet and put them on. I felt like a polar bear. But it was the most exciting moment of my life when I stepped out on the street and looked up to feel the snow flakes on my cheeks.
A BIG THUMP!
I slipped and fell.
I got on to my feet, lifted one foot and fell again.
I fell for a third time.
I rose to my feet again, and before taking that small step, which was not in any sense a giant step for mankind, I looked around. I knew I was being watched.
With a gentle smile hovering on his lips, he approached me and extended his hand. I grabbed it quickly and walked over to a safer spot.
As I was about to go on my way, I said to him, “You know I just found out something no one ever has told me before.”
“Yeah! One could slip in snow and fall!”
 The late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was at the lowest ebb of her popularity at this writing. The question refers to Indira Gandhi versus Mahatma Gandhi.
 A great Indian philosopher from 8th century. His interpretation of Hinduism is liberal and so accepted by majority of Hindus.
 The first Sanskrit grammarian in the 4th century.
(Published in Wisconsin Academy Review, June 1982. At the time, my name was Malathi Rao.)
A Series of analytical/informative articles on Telugu scholars and a few topics in Telugu Literature.
The articles include prominent authors: Kanuparthi Varalakshmamma, Nidudavolu Venkatarao, Nayani Krishna Kumari, Utukuri Lakshmikantamma, Tenneti Hemalatha, and Arudra.
Topics include tanscultural transference from Telugu to English, structure in Telugu story, elements of oral tradition in Telugu story, what makes a story a good story, humor and family values in Telugu stories, and bilingualism in Andhra Pradesh.
Your comments are appreciated.
August 10, 2023.
My life is a cereal box half empty.
My life is a book of poems
The blank half of every page.
My life is the little vacua between branches
of the humongous Banyan tree
Shooting down branches and rooting in.
My life is not your world
Filled with umpteen little meaningless objects.
It is the vast expanse of the sky
Sporting Stars and Signs.
You cannot comprehend my life
Until you will take in the total view of the sky.
Beyond the Shores of the River Existentialism By Munipalle Raju, translated by Nidadavolu Malathi.
An Anthology of short stories in Telugu by Eminent scholar and writer, Munipalle Raju, entitled Astitvanadam avali teerana, translated into English by Nidadavolu Malathi, under the title Beyond the Shores of the River Existentialism, and published by Kendra Sahitya Akademi, is available now at Swati, Temple Road, New Delhi, 110 001, India. You may also contact email@example.com. Rs.270.00
This project had been quite a challenge for me. Among other things, the stories are imbued with Mr. Raju’s vast knowledge of ancient works, Indian and Telugu culture and traditions. In fact, had I provided notes and explanations for all the references he had woven into his stories, it would be one more book, possibly, bigger. I have noted some of the challenges in the book under the title, “Translating astitvanadam avali teerana; A Unique Learning Experience,” though.
In short, reading these stories would be a unique experience for readers interested in Indian culture, traditions and the essence of Indian philosophy.
I have provided some footnotes, sometimes, with the help of my knowledgeable friends. I am grateful to them.
With nearly twenty years of experience in translating fiction from Telugu into English, this is my best work yet, I would add. I hope you will enjoy these stories in English.
Much obliged for your kind comments. Thanks in advance.
(Sunita Ratnakaram garu spoke at a meeting organized by Kalpana Rentala [Founder and organizer of Molla puraskaram] garu to award Molla Puraskaram to Nidadavolu Malathi garu on March 11, 2023. Sunita Ratnakaram is an avid reader of Telugu and English literature, and a professor of business at a reputable college in India.)
First, I congratulate Malathi garu on receiving the Molla Puraskaram. I extend my namaskarams to all the speakers assembled here to discuss the literary works of Nidadavolu Malathi garu. My only qualifications to say a few words about Malathi’s novels at this meeting are reading her fiction zealously; also because I like her as a writer and as a person.
Kalpana garu, [Founder and organizer of Molla Puraskaram], thank you for creating this opportunity for me to speak today.
The first thing I should mention is what nearly 50% of Malathi’ followers on Facebook would say; she is the reason I have retained my Telugu language skills to this extent. After watching her determination, I started with writing small words in Telugu. Now I am writing even English words in Telugu script, if necessary. We all know the words remain in our control only as long as we put them in writing.
The one factor that always amazes me about her is: her fiction, the titbit writings on Facebook full of humor, satire, and dialogues; and, her knack to update her technical skills regularly, and continue her literary activities on Thulika. Coming to my topic, other speakers will be speaking on other topics, I confined my speech to her two novels, Chatakapakshulu and Marpu.
Whether it is a story or a novel, the general rule is not to recount a summary. Therefore, I will follow the same rule and share my understanding of the two novels only.
Chatakapakshulu is her first novel. Previously, I have expressed my opinions on both the novels in a separate article.[Sunita’s article previously published on tethuika.wordpress.com here] Due to my job and other responsibilities, I could not read this novel novel for a second time, but I have read d Marpu again. I apologize.
Malathi said she had started this novel in the 1980s, stopped for a while, and again picked it up and finished it in 2004. The novel has been published as a serial on APWeekly.com the same year. Currently, the Telugu original is available on her blog, Telugu thulika. [For Chataka Birds in English click here]
Briefly stated, Chatakapakshulu is about a young woman, Geetha, who arrives in America after her marriage with Hari, an NRI. She lives her life as it comes without any goal or plan, while absorbing local culture, reminiscing about the place where she had grown up, watching the other Indians who had arrived under similar circumstances as herself, and trying to reconcile all those with her own thoughts.
One might wonder, “Why read this now; there was a time when barely one person from one city had been to America; later, it was one person from one street, and now, every household has one in America. That being the case, what is there in this novel that we don’t already know?” We can accept that argument if the author presented it as a travelogue or a description of American way of life.
But, in this novel, author delineates human psyche and analyses of the characters; that is what makes it a ‘must read’ book.
All the characters – from those that appear briefly, such as Sivam, Kanakam, Emmanuel, and Achala, to the main characters like Geetha, Hari and Tapathi – are depicted as characters full of life and zest. The interaction between the characters are authentic and captivating. We see all of the through the eyes of Geetha, who remains detached, like a dewdrop on a lotus leaf. Author’s restraint not to make Geetha a perfect model because she is the protagonist has done enormous good to the character.
Malathi touches upon a wide variety of issues from social programs and devotional gatherings in an attempt to maintain the spirit of native culture to the travesties of social groups or literary meets. She has accomplished it through humor, satire, and brevity. From what I have read, I find Malathi’s stamp as a straight-to-the-point narration without unnecessary theatrics. You will find this peculiarity throughout this novel. I consider it a characteristic of a good story; and, I admire it, both as a reader, and personally. Her observations about the field of literature are few, yet notable.
Marpu novel [Change]
What a great way to make use of the breadth available to the novel! I was amazed how widely she has discussed the changes in several areas, and all in crisp short sentences. I was amazed to not she has commented on so many areas elaborately. They include: the evolution of man-woman relationship from personal to societal; familial relationships; metamorphoses in the lives of Indians, Americans and Indian Americans; changes in the metaphysical perspectives of individuals; literary groups, and their activities. She has not, however, give in to the temptation of offering solutions to each problem.
I will not say this is her magnum opus work, but marpu certainly belongs in the trove of best novels I have read. We must be grateful to Malathi for writing on the changes so eloquently.
Now, let’s examine it further in detail.
In this novel, after describing a party of Telugu people, author says, “Just in those two and a half hours, I’ve got the feeling I had seen one half of the city.” In just one page, the readers get a bird’s eye-view account of political, societal, familial, individualistic, and theological matters; it is as exasperating to the reader as to the narrator. One can visualize the suffocating atmosphere distinctly. The narrative flows briskly and realistically. And with equal genuineness and ease, she discusses potent questions such as what is happiness and what makes life complete. This discussion should or could be lengthy, but Malathi accomplishes it in a crisp, brief narration.
She does not constrain herself only to Telugu characters, but also extends to matters relating to American society, as and when it is appropriate fot the development of the story. Some of them are: glitches in the Social Security, credit card troubles, political parties’ rumpus, local politics, lenders, grocery store stories, not so obvious formalities in the invitations, playing ‘good’ hosts, and so on.
About the main characters in story, I would put it this way: Aravinda and Vishi represent the present generation; Leela and Sundaram belong to the previous generation; Vishi’s parents, Prabhas Rao and Sivani, are from two generations prior. So also are Aravinda’s parents; yet one more generation behind is Aravinda’s grandmother, Sridevi. Her older sister, Peddakka, is the oldest of all. All of them are from upper middle class and lower middle class; or, just one step below.
With all the characters at play, this novel may be taken as a commentary of the narrator, Malika, on the changes in human relationships as mentioned earlier, the good and the bad in the institution of marriage, and about the changes in all matters.
That does not mean the author constrains the discussion to only one topic. Just like in all the novels in general, Malathi includes subplots also, while narrating the main plot. She makes the best use of the breadth available to a novel, like any other good novelist. To put it in one sentence, this novel has not been written to illustrate only one subject. I would say, using the English phrase we are used to, the narrative ‘evolves’. One day, she speaks about the value of ‘word’ and how sharp it could be; on another day, it is about the laughs and cries in real life situations; yet another day, about a young boy who elaborates on the pleasure and pain in life from a theologian’s perspective; or about the origins of feminism in America and whether it is suitable for Telugu people. She also discusses the changes in the conditions of the lives of our women powerfully, including a few researchers’ input on those matters. About a person’s progress in the Hindu tradition and their methods of finding solutions to their problems, and the family’s role in it, on another day. Also, the hardships of a grandfather after the family he had supported, throws him out and after they find no use for him. There are so many stories woven into this story; and, all of them merge superbly into the main story, but for a couple of incidents that stand out.
The poet’s trip to America is a must read account. Another sub-plot similar to this, is the literary meets and the speeches at those meetings. Malathi’s comments are rendered in her decisive style complete with her in-depth look and scrutiny; and, not a part to be passed.
Here are a few gems:
“What do you mean experience? Is it not the only lesson we have learned from history? That we learn nothing from history? If we had learned from history, we would have no more wars after the Maha Bharata war of Dwapara yuga. We all would be living happily forever.”
“Nobody knows better than yourself, what your situation is, what your capabilities are, and what makes you happy. You are the only one who knows it.”
“You are still young. You make decisions based on what you see. Let alone each subject, you will put everything in dry words, in black and white. For me, everything is a conundrum. No matter how much I have learned, I still feel like there is more to it.” – A very good example of the change in the mode of thinking in different generations; she puts it in simple words with ease.
Malathi’s observations are carefully thought out. For instance, she says we tickle babies and see them laughing; but, do we really know if the babies are enjoying it?
Here is another example. While speaking with Tarakam, Sridevi speaks at length about the changes Battula Kamakshamma, Nalam Suseelamma, and Veeresalingam[ Renowned social reformers in the 19th and 20th centuries. ] had brought about. But, with Aravinda, she talks about her own childhood and tells the stories she had heard at the time in a cozy friendly conversation. The readers are charmed as they notice the difference between the two conversations.
In essence, the author’s conviction is clear: there is no single rule that works for all occasions, like there is no one mantra that works for both fear of thunderbolt and begging for alms[ A proverb. There are different mantras, one to waive the fear of the thunderbolt and the other for begging alms. ]. Each individual should make decisions in accordance with the times and their competence, and based on their own experiences and potential.
Malathi’s fliar for sarcasm
Lastly, my personal favorite is her use of sarcasm. We all know sarcasm gives great pleasure to the readers, if the writer knows how to make the best use of it. Malathi is one such writer. For instance,
“My social skills kill me.”[A pun The Telugu sentence plays on a word, goru in kalupugoruthanam.]
“True, sir. In this country, we can’t even die without prior appointment, like varala abbayi[ A once a week food arrangement with a family. The family agrees to feed the young man until he finishes school. ]. If the Yama [god of Death] comes to take me away, I will have to tell him to come back after six months.”
“The movie has started. Nobody seems to know what is happening. Nobody is ready to admit they have no clue what is happening. Maybe, they will, tell after a few more minutes.”
“So, who all came to the meeting? I mean the eminent people?”
“What can I say if you put it that way? All of them are eminent people. Why would they be invited if they are not eminent?”
“Nevermind. Tell me what you have talked about?”
“Why bother her like that? Actually, that was not a meeting of speeches; it was awards meeting. It is like serving food at our weddings. They call the names, the awardees go on to the stage; and somebody hands a plaque or a certificate to each awardee; they may or may not mention the recipient’s field of expertise. At the photo session, however, they make a big point of telling the awardees to stand up with a big smile and showing off the plaque. That’s about it.”
This concludes my observations on these two novels. In these two novels, we find several insights that can be made possibly by this narrator only. I urge Malathi garu to write at least one more novel for giving us more of such in-depth observations.
Malathi garu appears, on the surface, as overwhelmed with worldly activities, but, in reality, is detached, I think. Maybe detached is not the right word; she is focused on detachment, I might say.
Since this Molla Puraskaram (ceremony) is not the kind of ceremony mentioned earlier, but one of the 8 pleasurable events I have enumerated above, I congratulate Malathi garu one more time and take leave of you all.
(Original speech delivered at a zoom meeting, Molla puraskaram ceremony on March 11, 2023. Translated with speaker’s permission.)
April 8, 2023
I have posted this novel previously and deleted it, after a friend pointed out it needed editing. I went through the text the best I could and posted the revised version.
My apologies for the inconveniece. Your patience is appreciated.
March 26, 2023
My Song by P.Sathyavathi
I checked my appearance in the mirror and felt satisfied. The sweet face that looked back at me
was indeed, enticing. I was about to embark on a journey on to the other bank of the river.
I was inexplicably happy that day, perhaps due to my youthful energy, or due to an imaginative
mind that always desired for the moon. Armed with a confidence that I could get that moon if I
wanted to, I was on the clouds. I picked up my colourful bags, three of them, made with coloured
beads, bright flowers and colourful threads. Of course, I wouldn’t leave my friend behind, the ever present song on my lips, would I? In fact, I cunningly extracted a promise from the song, never to leave my lips.
Thus equipped to face the life, I stood on the bank of the river, watching the sun rise, awe struck. A small boat came along. It looked a pretty sight, swaying in the mighty, dignified river. There was a man in the boat. He had a smile fixed on his lips and looked very handsome, indeed.
“Do you want to jump in?” he asked.
“Now, what are those bags?” he enquired further.
“These bags? My friendships, my memories, my ambitions, my likes, my talents and many things that define me,” I replied.
“I see! Ok, jump in. Don’t forget all those bags. You might bring that song on your lips too. Do you need to hold my hand to get into the boat?”
“Of course not! I can get into the boat all by myself, thank you. In fact, I know how to row the boat, as well. By the way, where are you off to?”
“Nowhere in particular. I will row as long as I can and stop when I feel tired. You can get down
where ever you want to get down,” he replied flippantly.
The idea appealed to me and I jumped into the boat.
“Welcome aboard,” he said as he looked into my eyes with a smile. I saw the light in his eyes and felt an inexplicable thrill.
The river flowed silently, displaying all her moods and colours. The blue hills along the banks, the greenery in the fields, the clear sky above, my song on my lips, the lively whistle of my friend, his witty talk, everything made me blissful. He told me about all his dreams, opinions and desires Lulled into a drowsy sleep with his songs accompanied by the ripple of the river, I hoped the journey would go on forever! In that happy, carefree moment I invited the young man into my thoughts and my heart. I shared everything with him, all that I called mine. I felt richer by the experience. I sang in ecstatic abandon. We vowed under the beautiful moon that we shall travel together always.
Up to that moment we had been taking turns in rowing the boat. But then he said, “Darling, you
look tired. Your bright eyes are drooping with sleep. Why don’t you take a rest while I do the
rowing?” I was proud of the love I inspired in him.
I closed my eyes listening to one of the songs he composed for me. Then he disappeared. I woke
up in fright. My song on my lips called him loudly. He returned panting.
“Where did you disappear?” I asked in fright.
“My dear! I realised we have a long way to row before we settle down. It is going to be a tiring,
boring job. I am trying to make a machine that will row this boat automatically.” He replied
“Oh yeah? What will you do if the boat is going all by it self? Look into my eyes all the time, I
suppose!” I teased him.
“My poor baby! We are young now. Do you want to spend the entire life rowing the boat? Don’t we need to settle down? Don’t we need to live happily ever after, like kings? I can’t have you rowing this stupid boat for ever! That is why I am slogging now, so that we can reach the other bank quickly, then build a nice big house and settle down comfortably.”
“What is this comfortable living?” I asked curiously.
“We will discuss that later, but now get me some food.” He became impatient.
“Did you not bring anything to eat with you?”
“No, I am going to be busy for a while with that machine. Here after it is your business to organize food for both of us.” He declared.
I got up yawning. I plunged into work. My friend, the song got bored. It said, “Hey, you seem to be too busy to notice me. I am going for a walk in the woods.” So saying it left me to go for a stroll.
“Don’t leave me now. I find it easier to work when you are with me,” I begged. “Don’t be silly. I will be back,” it replied hurrying out.
Eventually my lover found that he had no time to listen to my song. Nor did he have time to adore me. When I stopped the boat near the bank to cook food, he searched in the nearby bushes to gather some material and filled the boat. He demanded that I organize all that material and clean the boat to make it look nice. He began hoarding material.
His focus and hard work got to me. I admired his determination and strength. He is so strong and
loving, I thought happily. I decided to make him happy and keep him free of worries, at all times
and by all means. I cooked for him with more devotion; I shared his work to give him some free
time and relaxation. I insisted on taking turns with rowing. I did all this with love and sincerity.
The boat started to get filled with different kinds of things. Just for the sake of reaching the other
bank and settle down to live happily ever after he accumulated lot of material. The boat also
started to be filled with different kinds of noises. Hammering, sawing, drilling nails and all kinds of mechanical jobs made peculiar, unfamiliar noises in the boat.
One day, I was startled when I remembered that my song had left me long ago. “Where did it go
for such a long time? How could I stay for such a long time without my best friend?” I wondered. I called my song loudly. It came after a long time, reluctantly. I missed the affection in its voice which was always there.
“Where were you all these days? I had to call you loudly, to bring you here,” I complained. “What else could I do? I couldn’t bear the noises in this boat any more. In the beginning I found some rhythm in his hammering, sawing and drilling. I tried to join them. But slowly I started hating that sound, so I left. I cannot stay in this cacophony. I will come and visit you once in a while, if you want me to,” the song said defiantly. I did not know what to say. “Come on, let’s go for a small walk in the trees,” my song invited me.
“I can only come once in a while to comfort you. I cannot live on your lips any more, I am sorry!” so saying my song left me.
I lost the man who invited me into the boat with brightly shining eyes, the man who offered to help me into the boat, and the man whose face seemed to be fixed with a smile. I saw him only at meal times. All that laughter, that chattering, those songs, that love, everything disappeared. He seem to spend all his time and energy filling the boat with material and machines. I saw him working at something new one day. I asked him about it. He said that it was a weapon to protect us with.
I felt restless. I thought I will open my bags and look at my friendships, memories and my
belongings. But I could not find my bags. I searched everywhere on the boat. Looking under the
bricks, inside the tool box, under the hammers and every other inch of the boat yielded no result.
“My bags! I have lost them. My talents, my memories, my experiences, everything is lost. Where
are they? How could I have lost them?” I wept inconsolably. Did I forget myself in my love for him? Have I lost everything that belonged to me?
He took my grief very lightly. “Oh, don’t make such a big fuss. We must have chucked it out of the boat some day while cleaning. But, first come and see what I have got for you.” He led me into his work shop. “At last, I have finished what I had started. This machine will run the boat automatically.
You need not work hard any more. Take rest, here after. Look at yourself. Your hair started to turn grey. Your skin lost its lustre. You can leave the rowing and spend time looking after yourself. Make yourself beautiful as before. I still have some more things to finish. I don’t know if I have accumulated enough things to live happily ever after. Here, press this button. Throw those miserable oars into the river. I am making many more machines like this to make life easy for you. All that you’ve to do is to press the buttons.”
I pressed a button. The boat sped up. I sat down. I lost my song. I lost my beaded bag with
flowers. I hardly see my beloved. Now I don’t even have the job of rowing the boat. What do I do with myself?
“What shall I do now? I lost all my talents. Can I work with you in the work shop?” I asked him
eagerly one day.
“Oh no! You take it easy and look after your beautiful figure. Cook for me. Look after me. That will be sufficient.”
I looked at my reflection in water. My lips looked dried after the song left them. The innocent sweet face with which I jumped into the boat looked jaded and tired. The boat went speeding, cutting the river. It suddenly seemed to be getting heavier.
I did not know what all things he filled the boat with, for us to live like kings, for a future full of
riches. Strangely, right from child hood I hated riches and kings. To live like kings we need to feel superior over others, which I disliked. I detested equally riches and treasures. What can we do with all the treasure in the world, except buying more and more meaningless stuff, I used to think. My beloved harped on those two words which began to annoy me.
My best friends and my song left me and never returned. I lost my man whom I loved above
everything else. Why did I stat this journey and where am I going now, I wondered. What is my
destiny? Why did I fall in love with him as soon as I saw him? Why did I jump into this boat upon his invitation? I lost all that I shared with him. He mesmerised me with his eyes, with his smiles and with his love. He threw away all my belongings when they annoyed him. He promised to make a beautiful world for me. I surrendered my heart and my soul to him. Where has he disappeared?
I heard a small groan. I was surprised and got up to look. In this boat it is only both of us living.
Then whose voice was that? The boat was still running. Whenever the boat complained of increasing burden, he threw away old stuff. He threw away old memories, old habits and everything else he felt useless. Only the machines remained.
Then I heard somebody laugh. I was more surprised. Who groaned and who laughed?
“Yes of course, it is me who laughed. Could you figure out who groaned?” asked the rowing
machine. It paused for a while and said, “I think it is time for you to jump out of this boat. I
cannot stand your weight any more.”
“First let us call him. Both of us will jump out of this wretched boat together. Or even better, we will kill you and row the boat with our oars as before,” I replied angrily.
“Call him? He won’t be able to come. He is stuck among those machines that he made and those
he plans to make. He is never going to make his way out of those desires in his mind,” the
machine laughed cruelly.
“Oh no! That is not going to happen. I am going to free him from those monstrous machines. All
these days I was in a kind of trance. He always managed to convince me into obeying him. Why did I listen to him? Why did I not convince him? Why did I not save him from these meaningless
desires? Why did I not hold on to my bags? How did I loose all my belongings? How could I be so careless? I want all those back, I also want my man,” I lamented.
“He is beyond your help now. You lost your song too. Who will help you in getting him out? Forget about him and jump out of the boat. Otherwise I am going to sink under all this weight.” The boat warned me.
Who cares about this miserable little boat, I thought. But I am not the one to give up like that. I
raised my voice and called my song. I put my heart and soul into it. Of course, the song was my
best friend. It came rushing to my aid. It settled on my lips as always. Together we set out. To get him back, with the things that he loved.
To get back my man who invited me into this boat, to make new beaded bags, to throw away all the rubbish we accumulated in this journey, to keep only what we needed and liked, to live a life fully with some work, some creativity, some imagination, lot of love and to spare some thought for others, to fill my beaded bags with values, I set out with the help of my song. With my best friend on my lips, I was confident of a victory.
(The Telugu original, nenostunnaanu, was published in Andhra jyoti.
Translated by Sharada, Australia, and published on thulika.net, August 2008.)