The Mamsapuram Saga - Poem by Ramesh Iyengar
The Mamsaapuram Saga….
Far off from my home,
is spotted Mamsaapuram village.
Just a tiny speck in Indian map,
secluded, hidden beside palm groves.
Unheard unvisited, unseen
by curious tourists.
A spot you need to see,
dare say I .
Backdropped by western ghats,
encircling paddy crops,
sugarcane fields, little hills,
hamlets, little houses…
No name board to declare,
no street names save
east or south.
Haze of dust hangs in the air,
passing vehicles hustle,
oxen’s necks cling-clang
punctuating early dawn.
Cheap eateries under thatch roofs,
puff out thick, black smoke,
as aged men squat
to sip tea, smoke bidis.
Women, men, passing grandmas
hold no assets, nor fortunes
no ambitions to claim.
A whole clan smothered beneath
mammoth boulders of
Deities in queer names
stand guard at entry
posted as sentry
armed with aruvaal.
They long for offerings,
sweet rice, meat, flowers
in pongal jubilations,
every year in post-harvest period.
in bright –lit streets,
make golden yellow day.
Sweet silence shatter by
A chill evening returns,
tillers retire home
spent, sweating, dirty…..
The little shops recreate with
vada, jilebis, piping tea
and hot biryanis,
to pacify the dull spirits.
Evening taverns throng
aglow, pouring out
cheer(s) ful cups of moonshine,
to extract coolie wages of day’s toil
This little village of
poor peasants, ever-indebted ryots,
pitch-dark women, innocent urchins,
promiscuous men, bulls, cockerels,
cowsheds that stink of manure,
unseen by the world
Ah ! my own Mamsaapuram village…..! ! ! !
bidi -- thin cigar made with tendu leaves
aruvaal - long sickle used for hacking goat (Tamil
vada -- flat circular spicy dish made with pulses,
chillies and fried in oil. (Tamil word)
jilebis - orange coloured, circular sweet meat soaked
in sugary syrup ( Tamil word)
biryani - an originally Indian dish made with highly
seasoned rice and meat or fish etc.,
Ayyanar -- rural, male saviour deity believed to protect
the village ( Tamil word)
coolie -- wages of a day of unskilled labourer
ryots -- an Indian peasant
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