Saturday, July 15, 2006

Prosperity confronts poverty
Sri Sri
(Original published in Telugu Swatantra, October 8th, 1954. Translated by Dr. Kodavatiganti Rohiniprasad)
The limping beggar-boy appeared to ride on the back of the evening as he stood in front of the rented premises of “East & West Export Import Company” in the narrow alley. “Ambaa…” shouted the boy.

Deprived of maternal love right from his childhood, the lame beggar-boy had grown up amidst heaps of filth. Even as he stood in front of the office building that traded in everything from the earth to the sky from sunrise to moonset, the boy suffered pangs of hunger that radiated through his frame. His throat managed a half-hearted cry “Ambey…”

The telephones and type-writers that had clattered all day inside the office building remained mute now. The wooden chairs that bore the weight of humans the whole day now seemed to find time to reminisce about their arboreal origins.

The chairs heard the heartrending cry of the limping beggar-boy but couldn’t find voice to tell him that nobody was home. The boy’s cry attracted the attention of a passing cow that paused for a moment to make sure it was not made by its own young calf. Having realized it wasn’t, the intelligent cow walked away, visibly indifferent.

Who’s to tell the boy he would get nothing here? Will the telephones tell him or will the type-writers; that not even a sip of water would be forthcoming from the building where deals worth millions are made routinely. How can the fluttering pages of the calendars hanging on the walls convey this information to the boy?

The lame beggar-boy seemed to forget the only song he knew. His face reflected the ruddy confusion of the setting sun. As he began struggling with rising anxiety and tried to revive his dying hopes, the tremors in the tummy of the lame beggar-boy made his eyes swim. Irrelevant in birth and inappropriate in his miserable youth, the parched tongue of the lame beggar-boy was dangling like the discoloured pennant of a defeated king.

Will the boy stand there for ever? Will this narrative ever move ahead? Will those motionless feet of his strike roots into the ground turning the boy into a tree?

This narrative can go on and on describing the matted hair on the beggar’s head, the wretched contents of the compartment that is his head, the prosperity of the immense riches inside the building in front of him and so forth. One can wax eloquent about the beauty of the narrow lane and the glow of the setting sun with colourful imagery. But the story would remain where it started.

If ever the lame beggar-boy can raise his head and notice the message that the lock on the front of the door would convey, if ever his cry for alms turns into a moan of despair and if ever his feet would realize the futility of standing in front of that building, only then would this narrative end.

Srirangam Srinivasa Rao, popularly known as Sri Sri, was born on 2nd January 1910 in Visakhapatnam. Telugu people remember Sri Sri as long as Telugu poetry exists. Sri Sri completed his higher studies in Madras and later worked for 'Andhra Prabha' daily, All IndiaRadio and also in the armed forces. Sri Sri revolutionised the style and content of modern Telugu poetry and rendered most of his predecessors and contemporaries outdated. He wrote memorable prose and thundering poetry that always reverberated with his deep commitment to the upliftment of the downtrodden worldwide. With a wide knowledge of progressive and revolutionary literature from every corner of the world, he epitomised the intellectual honesty and fervour of a true peoples' poet. He is widely read, quoted and continues to live in the hearts of Telugu people long after his demise in 1983. He was a poet for the masses and a Mahakavi in the truest sense of the word. The present piece is representative of his prose which is poetical in style.


Post a Comment

<< Home