Edasseri Govindan Nair

(23 December 1906 - 16 October 1974 / Kuttippuram, Kerala, India)

Wedding Gift - Poem by Edasseri Govindan Nair

Obscure lies the green pond
Slime coated dark.
Like a place in ruin tragic
Under the moss of sad neglect.

You, dear child, have begun to shiver
Even in its soft breeze.
I, your sister, shall seat you there
wrapped well in my upper robe
The deep darkness, dear, is slowly leaving
The first glimmerings of light come;
Will you weep, as in these waters dark
I sink down and disappear?

Pointing your lovely little finger,
Petal soft as the rays of the early sun
Haven't you morning after morning,
Sketched the pattern of flowers on this pool?
One of them, long-stemmed, dear brother,
I shall pick and give you today.

The wedding yesterday was solemnised
Of my younger sister, the one elder to you,
To that couple, newly wedded, present
This flower, as though an ambrosial bloom.
Till this day I felt needless fear
To plunge into the irretrievable;
Only today I've gained strength
To slip down alone beyond my depth
As we started a while ago,
Lighted wick in hand,
Didn't mother say, 'Can't this girl
have her holy immersion after dawn? '
'Too much of anything, remember
Will come to nothing', she added.
Each moment of her daughter breeds
Callous suspicion in the mother's mind.
Bathing early denotes harlot's ways,
Lying late is but false pretence.
Visit the temple or visit it not,
our mother meets misinterpretation.
Life to the mother, a prolonged heart-burn,
To the poor daughter a crown of thorns.

The gleam and the bubbly sound, dear
Show that the fish are waking afar;
Sorry, I forgot to warn you, dear
But why fear such trifles, I say
The wedding yesterday was solemnised
Of my younger sister, the one elder to you.
A sigh of relief mother must have heaved
That daughter at least will not go astray!

Even the distant relative had said adieu,
And quite early mother had gone to bed,
By happy festive toil tired,
You too on your mat curled up.
The maid, hoarse from extolling the bride-chamber,
Lay down in deep slumber,
I alone lay awake, mind musing
Over the offer of this gift.

Before agitated by the golden rays,
It is with pollen gilded,
Before the blessed bride and groom arrive
To dip and bathe;
Before the sun rises in his glory,
Your sister must move in and cull the flower.

The deep darkness, dear, is slowly leaving,
The first glimmerings of light come.
What aroused fear stands unmasked
Casting a bright smile.
Will you weep, as in these waters dark
I sink down and disappear?
Up to the neck, in shuddering cold,
I shall move and look back,
My darling, you sit on this step
Without fear, smiling, smiling
Your sister can hope for a smile
From no lips, but thine.

If my hand cannot reach the stem,
I shall slide slowly and pluck it,
A spot beyond my level, dangerously deep,
And for sure, my heart, tremulous with joy.

If late, who all will not come seeking,
Are not quarrels, cruel words, their way of life?
'Has not that wretched girl bathed and moved up?
Mother can speak only in such a tone.
'She's been pampered too much', such will be
The judgment, most certain, of your sister young.
When thus the elders' anger strikes flame,
Careful you be not to contradict.
These thighs, soft as petal, never again
Should bear the welts of flogging.
Possibly come your dear brother-in-law
The newly won relative of yours.

If so, your sister will only lie here
Among the lotus-stems her dress close entangled.
If I come up, I may have to face him,
My clothes all wet and clinging.
Even as a girl I've only stood before him
Bathed, my forehead daintily marked,
Dressed in sari and ornaments,
Well groomed and beautiful.
At noon, on the banks of this lotus-pond,
As he sat in he green shade,
To graze the goat, or for a while
To gloat over the beauty of the blooms,
I've never come, unless elegantly dressed,
My heart throbbing in the fullness of joy.
After we had grown up in a love
That even the death could not cut asunder;
As we parted, bidding farewell
In cheerful heart-deep friendliness,
I stood grandly dressed,
A smile lighting my face
I wish those eyes should never
See me in any other form.
As others stand engaged in discussion,
The gentleman will question you,
With a loving kiss your sister pleads,
Remember only to say this:
'In truth, saying she wanted to give
A gift to the newly weds,
My sister slid into the pond
to pluck a lotus lovely'
Darkness has left my mind
Now aflame with your smile.

Will you weep as in these waters dark
I sink down and disappear?


Poet's Notes about The Poem

Edasseri Govindan Nair (1906-1974) has a number of powerful poems and also a few plays to his credit. His poetical works include ‘Karutha Chettichikal' and ‘Kavile Pattu'. He was a revolutionary at heart. He won both the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award and Central Sahitya Akademi Award in 1969.

The poem 'Wedding Gift' is in the form of dramatic monologue. The elder sister speaks to her young brother as she gets into the pond. She tells the brother that her intention is to pluck a lotus flower to be given as a present to the younger sister and her bridegroom. Actually the bridegroom had earlier deceived her. Her plan is to drown herself. Her remains shall be the wedding gift to the new couple.

-


[Translated by T.R.K. Marar,
from the collection 'Malayalam Poetry Today'
published by Kerala Sahitya Akademi.]

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, September 6, 2012

Poem Edited: Thursday, September 6, 2012


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