Viswanatha Satyanarayana



                              Song of Krishna (5)


You come while I'm taking my bath.
You come when my sari gets wet, and I change into a dry one.
When, unnoticed, my sari falls from my shoulder—you are there.
Almost as if you had planned it.
As if you knew all such slippery moments.
You sit right in front of me.

Some kids are like this from the start, in the womb.
You're a true jewel among them, the eye on the peacock's feather.
Really, you're spoiled. No one disciplines you.
Everyone loves you and no one speaks to you harshly.
Any time they begin to get mad,
you do something or other and they laugh,
and everything is lost in that laughter.
For years and years, your mother longed to have
a tiny boy in her womb, and you came, so now
she lets you do just as you please.

What's a game for the cat is death for the mouse.
We can't even talk about these things.
We can't face them unless we give up all shame.
Sometimes I tell myself firmly: he's only a child,
why get so stirred up? But that's how women are made.
I can't help myself. If you, young man,
are the one to take away my shame,
I will take you for my God.

When a woman is getting dressed, you should leave.
If you happen to catch a glimpse, you should
bite your tongue, go away, and come back after a while.
You should ask if you can come in.
That's the proper way. It's not as if
this is your own house and I'm your wife.
Even my husband doesn't come in when I'm dressing.

Along with being so brash, you're also angry.
Don't be.
Never mind what I said.
Come, Krishna, eyes dark
as the lotus.

                             –Telugu; trans. Velcheru Narayana Rao


Viswanatha Satyanarayana, Telugu, trans. Velcheru Narayana Rao, Hibiscus on the Lake:
Twentieth-Century Telugu Poetry from India
, University of Wisconsin Press, 2003.