Pedavva cried her last words, ‘Gadapa duram, khaadee deggera’
Gadapa is the site of our experience – always nearing almost touching like a wish.
It is where you will find our land, which we neither own, nor belong in.
Women slapped against walls nailed with frames of ancestors and blessing gods, sit at the gadapa talking with the neighbouring women. Hanumavva with more than tobacco-packet in her bosom waits at the gate for more than a bus to the next village. Nagaraju traded his body for some touch at the bank where the stillborn are let in the river that Mogulappa cried.
The women who raised me accuse me of appropriating and violating their carework of loving.
I love like it’s the only skill needed to survive in this country.
I can’t love like your men. Body full of violence, fascist to the teeth, logically invalid by bones.
A blind bull tricked, shot and sold in the crowded Monday bazaar.
Pedavva cried like the waves of the flood that transgressed our thresholds with all its laborious force on 26th July, 2005. She entered life like the waves to collapse a home built to bury her body.
Like gutter flood she broke in through the roof, occupied from the cracks, claimed from the toilet drain just to belong.
Now squatting across the line, skilfully sifting the city sludge in sieves,
we strained no gold. Only a wasteful amount of soil, soggy cooked rice and plastic.
Just like our dreams of breaking the world and the Mithi River
streaming with flamingos
BORN AND RAISED IN BAMBAI 17
At the mouth of the world I ache for nothing but the feeling of being swallowed
In the slow, changing colours of the twilight I saw God from the local train passing over the bridge
They were tailoring curtains No third eye or big hands Just crow wings & burnt skin spread across the sky I prayed to them for their seeping light in my veins and my pericardium They sang to the drumbeats Come find me at jaatara where pioneers meet their death
where you last confided in Begum’s eyes where all your brothers descend where the hearts turn as soft as entrails under the knife
Through the city noise of honking and revving, from the narrow alleys of Dharavi chawls, a dirge of birds migrated with the sound of Azan
O how full of holes and yet so heavy
MANA MANDI (OUR PEOPLE)
The city-heart pulsates dream lights (most strikingly in bright fluorescent green of plus sign with Medical
written on it)
by the labour of mana mandi.
Its many veins spreading like fish net or forest fire
(but on low flames to keep chicken parottas from burning)
skirting plastics on the margins into hibiscus curls that some
will put in their winnowing fans.
Street is a field cultivating tongues that touch everyone into action: praying,
breaking, leaving, falling, cleaning, selling, bleeding, moving against the
despotism of tar.
Here, we produce hunger unconfined to the borders of our bodies.
Here, we carve our own ways, so here we can walk and not feel like
The roads crack into shops under the light of the bulb used to pass
threads through the eye of the needle
as wise tailors seam piles of worn saris, sheets and offcuts of satin together into thick warm quilts
outsizing even the length of our homes, and if the road fights back through
our third-person reflections
on the leather shop’s glass doors, it is melted into the sideways by a child’s first perceptive touch;
the gaze sharp as mascara, soft as rain questioning the road.
At the juncture where two vehicles collide, we gather in circle arm in arm to
watch the spectacle of dying languages speak
unclogging at the valve in the middle
under the skin spread like blue tarpaulin with holes the size of our eyes over the metal-ribbed bridge construction.
This street that once was a threshold, is our body too.
Mana mandi have died here.
The tongues invite us: Come, you can spit here.
A BALLAD IN PRAISE OF YELLAMMA
when hunger is a black sky the bellies turn into throats moon is your sweet face my village Yellamma
all my daughters born on full moon day named
Chandramma crossing hills to reach the dargah who will carry you my village Yellamma? all my daughters born on full moon day named
Chandramma over the bund in the rice field we will carry you my village Yellammavva
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
SHRIPAD SINNAKAAR is a Dalit poet living in Dharavi. They hold a postgraduate in Philosophy from University of Mumbai. Their works have appeared in Dalit Art Archive and translated in Telugu.