Old words. New meanings

Words change in meaning as times change. The other day I found some one on the net referring to “Dal Makhni” as “decadent.” Can dal makhni, steaming , fresh and exuding an enticingly fine aroma be rightly called decadent? What the writer meant, i feel , was that, being laced with butter it was harmful to health. You may say it was used as a ‘transferred epithet’, to describe someone who indulges in eating dal makhni to excess and so goes into decadence. But I dispute this. Is there some one who eats the Dal to such an excess that it decays him, when there are so many other things that are so more alluringly , well, ‘decadent’.. Those who eat dal makhni excessively, most surely, will be eating chocolates and ice-creams too to excess. Do you call ice creams and chocolates decadent? But as some one told me once ,”Comparisons are odorous.” He meant, I believe , to say , “odious’ in stead of “odourous”
And coming to aromas and odoors, I found someone else on the net, describing a horrible smell as “heinous”. “Heinous”,as I know, is a word normally used to describe an attitude, deed or a person or an act of a person, No where have I seen it applied to a smell.
Of course , words change in meaning over time. Now a days , if someone says ‘Oracle’, it most surely, would mean the Oracle Database. If it is used in its original sense, you may have to reach for your dictionary to glean its native meaning. Another such new word is Cassandra. It now means another DBMS. Its original meaning is also very near to that of Oracle. Cassandra is a character, from The Greek mythology, who made perfect predictions, which however were not heeded by others. The is commonly used to describe doom-sayers.
I remember to have come across this word some five decades ago, while reading a book about the ‘silver-tongued orator’, Rt, Hon’ble V.S,Srinivas Sastri. Describing the prevailing sense of despondency during those days of the Depression and the 2nd world war, Sastri had said ,” Cassandras are dime a dozen these days.” I do not know why, but this sentence and the word lurking safe some where in the deep recesses of my mind, came out again after all these long decades when I came across it in its new garb.
Rt. Hon’ble Srinivasa Sastri, rose from poverty to fame by his hard work and his great command over the English language. Some where else in the book he says something to this effect, “The world is an exacting place. You have to bend down to get famous. Then you can make it bend to you. “.

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It doesn’t matter if you don’t love me, but it would be hurtful if you choose to love some rascal.

Here is an attempt of me to translate the Hindi song,”tum agar mujhko na chaahoto…” from the movie “Dil hi to hai”

I do not mind it much, if you do not love me,
But it would be difficult if you chose to love some one else.

You have as yet no sympathy towards me,but then you are not so aloof too from me.
If you have not broken any promise, you have not made any to me too.

This support is enough for me , to go along in my life.
If you are not mine yet, you do not belong to any other too.
It doesn’t matter much to me, if you do not appreciate my heart
But it would be unbearable , if you appreciate the heart of someone else
It’s likely that people love you,for you are so pleasant looking,
Does it matter any if I am dying for you? There could be lot others too willing to do so.
There may be a similar swelling of desire in the eyes of everyone,
There may be similar pangs of pain in the hearts of others too.
If you are not compassionate at the distress of mine , I do not mind much
But it would be unbearable, if you are compassionate towards the distress of any other instead.

Go on smiling like a dainty blossom, remain ever in the looks of all others,
Stay for ever in you tender innocent youth,
But let not me face the day, for God’s sake,
where I am thirsting for you and
you are in the embrace of some one else,
If you do not belong to me it doesn’t matter much,
But if some enemy gets you as his own , then it would be difficult.

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With a dainty maiden besides me in a tranquil moon light.

Santanam ((1955) was a beautiful movie , that captivated a young boy yet to enter his teens then. And its sweet songs , though the lyrics were nothing more yet to him than a jumble of sweet sounding words , were manna to his ears, especially when sung soulfully endlessly by his elder bro.
Here is my attempt to translate a great song “Challani Vennelalo” from the movie into English.

In the tranquil moon light,
the dainty maiden beside me ,
beauty permeates me.
My bliss transmutes itself into song.
The moon, in a cozy embrace of fleecy clouds,
bobs in and out cheerfully..
Softly touched by the lips of the cold breeze ,
flowers smile languidly in their slumber
Within those twinkling stars high above,
the sparkling visage of the maiden peers out at me
And I sing of her sweet form within my mind for ever and ever.

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my village, my native place.

Here is an attempt by me to translate into English the great Telugu lyric of Sirivennela, ” yI gAlI, yI nElA, yI vUru selayEru….”.

This breeze, this earth, this bubbling torrent coursing through this village
Verily my parents are they, they dwell in my eyes,
The tiny starling singing yonder
Knowing that I have come , it moves hither,
Ages have passed. Now that we have met after all this while,
My swelling heart hollers aloud , the clamour touches the clouds .

Who knows,which great sculptor had a dream
With which tool had he perpetuated his skill over this rock
With which loving thought , expressed his tale
With what recollections of love retold he, this saga,
For, these stones turn into dainty damsels and
They dance here before me.

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పక్కదిగి నెట్ రౌటర్ ఆన్ చేశాను. ఈ మధ్య మా ఇంటి సమీపంలో పిడుగు పడినప్పుడు రౌటర్ కాలిపోయినప్పట్నుంచి, అవసరంలేనప్పుడు నెట్ ఆఫ్ చేసి పెడుతున్నాను.వంటిట్లొంచి పోపు ఘుమఘుమ , కాఫీ ఆరొమా వస్తున్నయి. అప్పుడే శ్రీమతి స్నానం కూడా అయినట్టున్నది. కొందరి ఇళ్లలో కాఫీ పరిమళం గొప్పగా వస్తుందీ, నల్ల బురఖా తొడుక్కోకపోయినా, కాఫీ రంగు మిడి తొడుక్కుంటే చాలు.మమకారపు మాధుర్యం!దొడ్డి తలుపు చప్పుడైంది. పని అమ్మాయి వచ్చినట్టుంది. తలుపు చలికి బిగుసుకున్నది. గట్టిగా రెండు తంతే గాని ఊడలేదు. వడ్రంగిని పిలవాలి. చిన్న పనులకి తొందరగా రారు.ఇంకా ఒకటి రెండు పనులు లిస్ట్ చెయ్యాలి. కొబ్బరికాయ వొకటి రాత్రి వానకి రాలి పడింది. చెట్టు యెక్కి కోసే వాళ్లు కరువైపోయారు. నిన్నటి వానకి నేల బాగా తడిసింది. కొంత ఆరినా, ఇంకా కాలికింద చల్లగా , స్పాంజిలా ఉంది. పక్కయింటి ఆమె , చిన్న బుట్ట లో వాళ్ళపెరటి పూలు, ప్రహరీ మీద పెట్టి వెళ్ళినట్లున్నారు. . మనసులోనే థాంక్స్ చెప్పుకుని, తీసుకున్నాను.మన మొక్కలవి గూడా కోసుకోవాలి. పూల బుట్ట, కొబ్బరికాయా పుచ్చుకుని ఇంట్లో కి బయలు దేరాను. బయట ముందు తలుపు చప్పుడైంది. పేపర్ బాయి పేపర్ చుట్ట చుట్టి విసిరినట్టున్నాడు. పాలవాడి గొంతు వినరాలేదు. ఇంకా పాలు పెట్టలేదు.”అయ్యో ముఖం కడుక్కోకుండా ఆ పూలు ముట్టుకున్నారా.” “పర్వా లేదులే కాసిని మడి నీళ్ళు నువ్వు చల్లు.”
నెట్ ఆన్ చేశాను. గయ్యాళి భార్యను టూత్పిక్ తో యెలా దండించాలో విజ్ఞులు చర్చిస్తున్నారు. యేదో కరువొచ్చినట్లు టూత్పిక్ తో దేనికి, చింత బరికలో, ఈత బరికలో, ఖర్జూర బరికలో వాడుకోవచ్చుగదా. బహుశా మీరు టూత్పిక్ వాడితే అమే చింత బరికె తీసుకునే వీలుంటుందనేమో? యేదొ సామెత చెప్పినట్లు, “తమలపాకుతో నీవిట్లంటే తలుపు చెక్కతో నేనిట్లంటా” అని.అసలు టూత్ పిక్ తో దండించటమెల్లా అబ్బా? టూటాఖామెన్ మహరాజు కేమన్నా తెలుసేమో ? టూత్పిక్ తో మహా అయితే మందలించవచ్చు అంతే. బహుశా దాంతో గుచ్చమనికాబోలు అంతరార్ధం. పూర్వంప్రేమ యెక్కువైతే నఖక్షత , దంతక్షతాలతో వ్యక్త పరచే వారట. ఇప్పుడు ప్రయత్నిస్తే మంచం మీదినుంచి కిందకి పడ దోస్తారు జాగ్రత్త.యాక్యూపంక్చర్ తెలిసిన వాళ్లకి పెద్దగా ప్రాబ్లం ఉండదు. భార్య ఆర్థ్రైటిస్ గూడా తీరిపోవచ్చు.
టీవీ ఆన్ చేశాను, అల్పాచమానానికో, బహిర్భూమికో వెళ్ళినప్పుడో అవలంబించవలసిన శాస్త్రోక్త విధివిధానాలు యెవరో మహానుభావులు బోధిస్తున్నారు. స్కూల్లో మా మిత్రుడొకడు ఒకటికి వెళ్ళేటప్పుడు బ్లాటింగ్ పేపరు తీసుకు వెళ్తుండే వాడు. ఇవన్నీ గూడా చెప్పాలా? చెత్తబండీ విజిల్ వినపడింది. చెత్తబుట్టలో వర్షం నీళ్లు పడ్డాయి. దోమలు మామిడి టెంకల మీద మూగుతున్నాయి. ఈ మధ్య ఈగలు కానరావడంలేదేమిటబ్బా ? హిట్ డబ్బా తీసుకువెళ్ళి స్ప్రే చేసాను. ఇది జీవహింస కిందికి వస్తుందా రాదా ? బుట్ట తీసుకుని వెళ్లి వాకిట్లో పెట్టాను.ఈ మధ్య వాన్లు ఇచ్చిన తర్వాత , బుట్ట గేట్ దగ్గిర పెడితేగాని కలెక్ట్ చేసుకోవడంలేదు. చేతులు డెట్టాల్ తో కడుక్కుంటున్నాను. “ఒక్క క్షణం శ్రద్ధ వహిస్తే ఆరోగ్యానికి యెంతో మంచిది “అని టీ వీ లో నెత్తి నోరు కొట్టుకుని చెప్తున్నారు.”ఏమండీ .కాస్త ఇటు వస్తారా, యెప్పుడు, స్మార్ట్ ఫోను, కంప్యూటర్ ధ్యాసేనా. కాస్త వంటింటి వైపుగూడా తొంగి చూడండి మహానుభావా . ఇంట్లో వున్నారనేగానీ ఒక్క పనికి ఆస్కారం లేదు.” “వుండవే బాబూ. పనిలో ఉన్నాను.” ఫోన్ పక్కనబెట్టి , “బాత్ రూం కి అర్జెంట్ గా వెళ్ళాలి.” ఆలోచన వుంటే మరుగుదోడ్డి అదే వస్తుంది.
అమ్మయ్యా. ఓ పనైపోయింది. ఇక స్నానం తరువాయి. అసలు పళ్ళు తోముకున్నానా ఇంకా ?
“నల్ల వస్తున్నట్లుంది.కాస్త ప్రొద్దున్నే స్నానం చేసి కూర్చోవచ్చుగదా ప్రొద్దున్నే ఆ కంప్యూటర్ పట్టుకు కూర్చోక పోతే. పెద్దవాళ్ళు అవుతున్నారు. కాస్త మడీ దడీ లేకపోతే యెట్లా.సంప్ టాప్ బంద్ చెయ్యండి. మడి నీళ్ళు పట్టుకుంటాను.”
“కొద్దిసేపే వస్తున్నాయి నీళ్ళు. అవి గూడా సంప్ లో పడకపోతే బాత్రూంకి ఇబ్బంది అవుతుంది, యెట్లా? తొందరగా పట్టుకో నీ మడి నీళ్ళు” .
సంప్ నల్ల క్లోజ్ చేశాను.

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The Postman by Devarkonda Bala Gangadhar Tilak

The Postman .
by D. Bala Gangadhar Tilak
translated by Versakay

My dear Subba Rav,o
Not to be seen these days ?

What?!You want me to write a lyric about ‘The Post Man.’ ? Are you joking?
Our ancestors have ordained us to,
weave poetry
about a beautiful dame, or
about the moon or
about a praise-worthy, courageous and stoic hero or
about a hero who is not so praise-worthy, who nevertheless is courageous and stoic,
What then, is this nuisance about a wretched post man?
Especially at this evening time !
Money will showered on you,
if you praise , a rich man. People will gaze adoringly at you
if you chant, the litany of an Exalted Minister,

Highly improper , nay abnormal and uncivilised , this is l
Oh, Subba Rav, After all, about a wretched posT mAn !
Can one certainly get any ideas worthy of poetry ?

Why don’t you assign me to write something about these, these that I list below?
The third 5 year plan
The tenth Picnic-in-the-woods Festival,
A business magnate like a Birla or Dalmia
The movies
A spiritual leader like Dalai lama,
The real reasons for and the inevitability of and the necessity for the war,
The changing-over of dynasties and kings
And you can look at my prowess then,:—

The graceful style, like the drumming sounds of
a cascade, the wave after wave of words,
soft and sweet .
I can, I will. Write heaps after reams. Lyrics, epics,
that would steal minds of people, entrancing them.

But write about a lowly postman ?!
That haggard old guy,
dried , emaciated, when in the hot sun,
a soggy rag when soaked in rain,
a worker with a pittance for a salary,
a pencil secured behind a lobe of his ear,
a sack in his hand,
in his khaki uniform ,
shoes worn out
a nondescript, poor man,
who goes on rounds,
from street to street,
every day.
Forget it.
Is he a prime minister or what?

So, you think so ? Now look at this :
Look at those two eyes which look like water-lilies, wide-open, in full bloom looking out of that window,
the piercing looks radiating towards the corner, of the street.
the eagerness,the anxiety behind those eyes.
the throbbing of her heart,
for the sake of a scrap of news about her sweetheart,who had left her and gone abroad.

Oh, young lady
Your craving to offer, your youth, your tenderness of eighteen years, ,that you have preserved pristine ,so long with care and caution, to place it on a platter and hand it over to your beloved, is evident to me, I empathise with you.
Your looks, form a line of bumble-bees, and
your hopes, sound aloud pellmell like jingle-bells,
They wake up the entire street.
They look all around,
They scan the street all along,

Lo! There he is, the postman !
You, jump into the lane in a jiffy.
A smile on his face that reveals , “no, there is no letter for you”
and then,…
looking wistfully at this humble servant of the postal department trudging off, there are two limpid pools, two pink blossoms.

The ripe old lady sitting in front of her hut, her whole life, a passage through a stream of hardship and blood.
Her eyes half blind hold within them, a lamp of life that is all but extinguished.

The very life that she gave birth to,
the only hope that is left to her,
her child,
dear as her own dad born again to her,
her very life-breath.
She awaits avidly for him, for Simhachalam, the soldier.
Minute after eager minute, every minute.
“Has he posted one scrap of a post card ?”
Oh, Postman, go, rush. Quick, to her.
Offer good tidings to that wretched old woman,
Note the joy on her furrowed face!

For that guy who stands yonder,
for that epistle from his bosom friend, that is getting nearer and nearer to him

You’re an expert.
to a trader,
to a dancer,
to a thief languishing in a gaol,
to a murderer,
to the current day celestial, who is condemned by his profession to be away from his beloved ( translator’s note::the reference is to the epic “Megha sandesam, by Kalidasu)
to a man,
to a demon.
Yes, you are an expert, an organiser,
who can strangely, magically,
turn it around, the distance, the far off
onto a spindle named one minute, an instance.
To all of them, each one of them.
Your ride to them on a horse, that is luck
You are are the harbinger of tidings auspicious or bad.
In your magic sack there are,
deep gasps, loud guffaws and wide smiles, blooms, peals of pleasure, compliments, wails of anguish.
Which ever of these, at which ever blick , you would bring out to them from your sack .
at that very moment, you are verily a king.

You , who are acquainted with some,
you nod your head at some,
you don’t even look at some corners ,some nooks of the town,
You are a close kin of all.
You bring news to all.
Still your story alone it is ,that gets churned and tossed around wildly in whirlpools
You make rounds, you wander about all these houses.
Alas, there isn’t, one threshold at which, you can cast off the heaviness, the burden in your heart.
These many eyes. They beckon to you. Yet not even one of them, looks at or beneath the coat that you wear,—
When I look at you trundling away stoically, having delivered a letter ……
I perceive the rustle of a ship receding into the sea leaving the shore behind.

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Wide eyes -3

…..with bated breath he jumps out towards the window and catches hold of a widow-rod and steadies himself….
It required some effort to smooch her from across the widow-rods.He desires to whisper something into her ears. But it can wait. First he imprints an ardent kiss on her cheek, oblivious to the danger, so inebriated is he in her presence. Besides himself with fervour , he presses his lips again and again over her wide eyes. Overcome with emotion, the couple forget that they could get exposed .
Suddenly, Hema Sundari perceives the patter of foot steps in the distance. Afraid, she whispers a warning to him, “Get away, quick !”. With his keen vision, Ranganayaka looks all around the garden, but can find none. A light breeze ruffles the tender branches. A tarantula wanders this way and that as though with fright, over the web it has been intently weaving. Dew drops that settled over the net in the night , slide over its threads and glitter like pearls.
Dark clouds envelope the moon once again . It is bleak all around. Ranganayaka finds a sentry near about the gates of the mansion, who seems to be dozing, leaning his back against the wall . Oh, he gets up suddenly, looks around groggily . He finds Ranganayaka perched precariously at the window ledge, and cries out aloud, “thief, thief.”
Ranganayaka loses no time. He whispers what ever secret he had in his mind in Hema’s. ears, kisses her again and jumps on to the tree and hides himself within its thicket .He looks around in vain, for a quick get-away. Meanwhile some servants have woken up and are running helter-skelter to find and catch the intruder.
One of them points his finger at Ranganayaka, barely visible with in the clutter of leaves, and cries, ” There hides the thief. ”
Ranganayaka jumps down quickly and grabs a long bamboo stave, that he had hidden in the lower branches of the tree, and tries to defend himself from the onslaught of the servants who are now attacking him with similar staves . Some others begin to rain pebbles and stones at him. He wards off the deadly blows adroitly. The sounds of the thick sticks hitting each other is reverberating within the quadrangle. Sparks fly as the dry staves hit each other and get reflected in the eyes of the men. A few of the attackers suffer severe blows , faint and fell to the ground . Others take to their heels and watch him warily from a safe distance, making a vain effort to recognise the intruder who stained himself black. Felling a few others in his way, Ranganayaka jumps on to the perimeter wall and sprints away, disappearing in the bleak alleyways of the city……

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