Dr Tapan Kumar Pradhan

Rookie - 194 Points (October 22,1972 / Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India)

Equation - Poem by Dr Tapan Kumar Pradhan


From Blood to Tears

Kalahandi* asks:
Have you seen my little child
with the running nose, my only child -
for forty rupees I had sold him off*
ten years ago at the time of drought -
how tall and strong he would be now:
Have you seen him, Babu
in the Raipur* market?

Kalahandi asks:
Have you seen my little woman
with the single copper bracelet -
Five years ago she went
to the Sukinda mines alone
to feed her stomach, but never returned:
Have you seen her, Babu
on the Cuttack Road?

Tears are dear, blood is cheap:
How will Kalahandi ever understand
the shadowy game of tears and blood?
With his blood and tears are made
Cuttack's sky scrapers
Raipur's smart streets -
For a sack of rice, and forty rupees
he has already drained his entire blood.
So cheap?
For so cheap who will return to him
his only woman, his only child -
the child with the running nose?


From Tears to Blood

Kalahandi today weeps no more
like an obstinate child - boo-hoo-wo-wow.
The dicey game of tears and blood
Kalahandi has now well understood
blood is dear, tears are cheap -
and today in Kalahandi's own courtyard
business roars on flesh and blood.

Kalahandi with her own jack knife
chops off flesh from her own thighs
and cooks and serves it hot and fresh
for businessmen and city guests.

Kalahandi's blood today stinks of money -
from Cuttack to Delhi, in veins of Raipur
today flows dark thick Kalahandi blood:
she sells her blood in return for tear drops -
rich man's sweet drops, gold drops, silver drops
rain down today in Kalahandi's lap.


Tears in Blood

Today in Kalahandi's blue blood stream
all kinds of deadly virus abound
spreading from village to village
from city to city, town to town -
sowing seeds of mass destruction
From Cuttack to Delhi, Andhra to Assam
spreading like AIDS, sparing no one
leaving death trails along high roads
making holy city men shriek in fear:
Soon Death will spread all over the land -
Then alone will the living dead understand
Whether blood is dear or tears are dear:
Recovering principal with ten fold interest,
Kalahandi will then take her
revenge against her betrayor.

- - *** - -

Translated by the poet himself from his own original Oriya poem 'Hisaaba'. This is an abridged version of the original.

The poem won Sahitya Akademi's Indian Literature Golden Jubilee Prize for Poetry in 2007.

Notes: -

Kalahandi: - A drought affected tribal-dominated district in Odisha, India

Raipur, Cuttack, Sukinda etc: - well known commercial / industrial places in and around Odisha

The single event which inspired the poet to write this poem is a local news item which described a tribal woman of Kalahandi who was forced to sell her own daughter for only forty rupees in the face of starvation...

Poet's Notes about The Poem

Translation of poetry is an extremely difficult task. Although the rhythm, metre and cadence of this poem closely matches that of the original, it lacks the power, majesty and word-play of the original.

The theme of the poem is 'poetic justice'. Kalahandi is a drought affected district in Odisha, India. For years, the outsiders had been sexually and economically exploiting the simple local tribals. However, with the advent of thousands of international NGOs and political attention, the locals have become smart enough to exploit the outside world. The exploiters are being paid back in their own coin. But, here who is the oppressed and who is the oppressor? The dividing line is getting blurred, and the entire social fabric is getting torn apart...

Comments about Equation by Dr Tapan Kumar Pradhan

  • (4/26/2013 12:02:00 PM)

    Your Oriya original may be with its own majestic beauty and in good diction indeed. Still this translation is a strong one and no one need to search for what might be missing.
    Telling a tale to a larger crowd is always great and so your new pieces of your own translation are also very much awaited... As long as there is something to write about, it has to find light.
    ALL THE BEST ahead too.
    (Report) Reply

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  • (4/26/2013 12:51:00 AM)

    the saddest state of our country as a social scientist you have exposed the facts...How long our people have to suffer as orphans in their own mother land.. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 15, 2013

Poem Edited: Thursday, October 3, 2013

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