Devulapalli Krishna Sastri was known for his tender poetry. He wrote prose too now and then . but not in any way prosaically. Here is a nice essay by him, entitled “Veefhi Arugu “.
And here is my attempt at translation of a few excerpts of the essay into English.
The Front Porch
by Devulapalli Krishna Sastri
While I am in the city, I long to go and stay for a while in the countryside. But I can’t remain for even a few days when I move there.
I look a stranger to myself. There is no correlation between my thoughts, my aspirations, my mind, my conduct . There is no cohesion between one and another of them.
It appears I am yet to form a clear visage of myself.
It seems to me for that matter, that, everyone else these days, behaves like me too. indecisive, in a quandary, where to go, whether to go.
Even the countryside itself seems to have lost its sense, today. How staid it used to be,? How cool, how devoid of any worry.
” Stooped down beside the brook she would gape at her image,
Hand aloft she would hail you, the pretty belle amidst the farm.
From deep within the woods she would peep at you tantalisingly,
Or stand rooted still, beside the hill,”, — how sweet , how balmy she used to be, the Telugu village !
Alas, she too has lost her good sense, these days. She had tried unnecessarily to ape the city She failed.
She and me are akin today.
Coffee hotels, raucous screeches of Gramophone records, shouts of soda and khilli (betel leaf, betelnut pack) vendors, the bustle of buses, cinemas and their loud announcements. It looks, to me the Village has turned its face towards the City avid for fun and frolic. The City already getting suffocated with a surfeit of all these, is stretching its arms towards the village begging .for food.
The Village is like your mother, the City your sweetheart.
She feeds you lovingly , puts you to bed in her lap , she brings you up tenderly, affectionately., the Village.
The City , your darling, she infatuates you, she excites you with her ever fluctuating moods and ,emotions.
The Village asks, ‘ What do you want ?’
“What do I get ? “, the City demands.
The Village is like your home, like your family, your kith, your kin.
The City is a market, a carnival.
The seasons announce themselves in the countryside, with its sunshine, the moonlight, the monsoon.
The city is bereft of seasons.The trees, the shrubs,, the leaves, the flowers, the birds, they are all forlorn. Like they are in exile, Aliens.
We are alone, an island, amidst the milling crowds, in the City.
The Village is one family, the man, the tree, the bush, the bird,the beast all together.
I find something odd these days about the way houses are being built .
The new dwellings coming up in the City, –they all look alike. Some have compound walls as though fortifying against unauthorised entry. There are others that do not have walls all around, but they do not have welcome porches on to the roadside either.
Such dwellings are making inroads into the Village too. They seem to turn their faces away with disgust, annoyance, they turn their backs to the road.
There were times when all houses in the Village had front porches. Rich guys used to sport big porches.
A porch is like an invitation. The first welcome greeting is announced by the porch. A wayfarer, an untimely guest, a destitute, whosoever it may be, the porch, cordially welcomes, ” This way, sir.”
In the Village, the porch used to be an institution, a greeting of welcome.
To be continued…..