On the walls of a train on the London tube in 2001, sandwiched between 2 advertisements, I came across this poem.
I never forgot it.
It is a tamil poem, attributed to Chempulap-peineerar or Sembula Peyaneerar, a poet from the famous Sangam age of Tamil poets. The poem is found in the Kuruntokai, a collections of poems dealing with love and separation.
The english translation is by a great modern Indian poet, A.K Ramanujan, who wrote both in Tamil and in English. We had to study one of his poems in high school and it was one of the few poems I liked at the time. I will post it some other week.
குறிஞ்சி – தலைவன் கூற்று
யாயும் ஞாயும் யாரா கியரோ
எந்தையும் நுந்தையும் எம்முறைக் கேளிர்
யானும் நீயும் எவ்வழி யறிதும்
செம்புலப் பெயனீர் போல
அன்புடை நெஞ்சம் தாங்கலந் தனவே.
“Yaayum (n)yaayum yaaraagiyaro
Yendaiyum Nundaiyum emmurai kelir
Yaanum neeyum evvazhi aridhum
anbudai nenjamthan kalandanavey
– Chempulap-Peineerar (Kuruntokai)
Red earth and pouring rain
What could my mother be to yours?
What kin is my father to yours anyway?
And how did you and I meet ever?
But in love, our hearts have mingled
as red earth and pouring rain.
– A.K Ramanujan