A House Called Sorrow

K Satchidanandan

Sorrow is a house,
its walls painted yellow
and ceiling green with fungus.

It has many rooms, from melancholy
and pain to anguish and depression
Darkness and chill go on growing
as one moves from room to room

There are doors from one room to another,
like from autumn to winter, but
there are no windows, only small
casements for sighs to pass.

The last room opens to a deep well.
Even the screams of those who
step out of its door never come out.

Some are tenants in this
house, but some stay here forever,
until a catastrophe liberates them
into eternal darkness.

Those who dwell there do not even know
there is a garden of pleasure outside it
The loud laughter and the hisses of kisses
from the garden strike those yellow doors,
shatter and fall on the moist earth below.
Sweet scents return to their sources
fluttering their spotted wings,
scared of the darkness within.

Those hurrying along the road in front
must have sometimes had a glimpse
of that house; but those people struggling
to survive hardly find time to stay there .

The fairies guarding that house at times
invite me too to stay there; but the choked
screams I had heard from the neighbouring
rooms and the chewed bones flung
from them during my short stay there
in the past keep dissuading me.

Even my language had left me then.
Silence covered me like a termites’ mound.
And when I broke out of it
there were three flags in my hand:
one green,
one blue,
one red.

(Translated from Malayalam by the poet)




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