Two Poems by Mandarapu Hymavathy

Telugu: Mandarapu Hymavathi

English: Kallury Syamala





In the garden of youth

The nectar-like fruits of experiences

We ate together, partners in crime

But, the burden of pregnancy

The wound of childbirth, mine alone

When punishment is meted out to one

The pointing finger of accusation

Aimed at me only


The flow of Ganges

The banks of waves

The hospital surroundings

Orphanage entrances

Drainage water

Thorny bushes

All- all are for infants

Beds of arrows


After satisfying body’s thirst

The drops of left-over sperms

Brushed off by fathers

Not saying a single word

The society pretends unseeing

The obvious

With no hatred


The boon the Rishi gave

In appreciation of services rendered

Becomes the bite of a snake

As unwed mother

The entire world

Including her own son

Hated the one woman

Kunti, the unfortunate one

With raw wounds in her heart

Either the Rishi who gave the boon

Of children to an unwed virgin,

Or the witness of all things, The Sun-

God appearing on invitation

With pleased hands of rays were

Not the culprits

But her childish fickle-minded

Had become a life-time’s curse

Not just then, but now also

For generations, my inheritors

The girls who were caught

In the net of love’s deceit


To flow like rivers of love

To surrender the flower-like bodies

Has always been our crime

The mothers deprived of

The flower of compassion not touched

The mothers whose love has not felt

The scent of motherhood

When they write about them

In national headlines or

Show them in bold letters on small screens

In a society’s double standards

In the world’s Manu’s scripts

The needle on balance of right and wrong

Tilts towards the woman


While in an age of innocent childhood

The toys they played with for a while

They keep them safely, as they

Cannot throw them away

Then how can any grown woman

Throw away the infant

Who has been part of her

Blood of her blood

Cell amongst her cells

Body within her body

Who has taken birth

The smallest bird

Whose two wings have not blossomed

She cannot abandon

But cannot keep and breast-feed either

Hundreds of seasons- of sorrows

Surround her all at once and

No poet can ever describe in words


With wet breast though

In sympathy she cannot sign in acceptance

She moulds the tender babies

Into huge warrior trees

‘I lived all my life as long as I can

Like a temple tower.’


The Ugly Picture

Among the pair of Krauncha birds

One has lost its companion

She, left alone was a personified melancholy

Naggings or taunts

Whatever the bond that kept them

Together for decades, snapped

She was drowned in a well of sorrow

The raw wounds rubbed afresh by people

Who came to visit.


The flood of tears underneath her eye-lids threatens

To break the barriers

She was like a goddess

Turmeric smeared, kumkum applied

Bangles on her hands

And flowers in her hair

She was a sacrificial animal

She was a violent picture

Of an animal about to be sacrificed


Barbaric age

Or modern times

Fundamental norms have not changed

Manu died long ago

Male centric traditions of dharma prevail still

In the atomic age where victories are the norm

The iron shackles of rituals

Tighten around the woman’s neck


Like the sorrow of the new widow

Darkness surrounds

Without a single woman witnessing

She goes to the stream in a

Carriage with curtains drawn all around


She is coming! She is coming!

Close the doors

Do not look even by mistake

Next minute you too will become a widow

For a woman it is more important to have

Her turmeric and kumkum than have her life

Even when one is drenched

In the whirlpool of tears

The words like whiplash

Enter the ears faintly

Leaving burn marks on the mind

Only the hearts still alive

Turn into stones

Hell is here, nowhere else


The daughter you loved

More than life

The siblings who always

Share your joys and sorrows

Runaway as if at a spotted snake


Just by the sin of one glance

The tilak on your forehead

Would be erased, or so the fear

That makes people move away.

She cannot go to

A neighbour’s house even

She remains in a room

Closed on three sides


Where even the God of breeze

Deserts her company

Every single minute

Tightens as of a hangman’s noose

No Chitragupta can keep

A count of the sorrows she lived through


For not fulfilling a wifely duty

As mind responded just one minute

Society’s double standards

Cause heads to behead

For the crime of being born a woman

She had to stay in a dark room

Without windows


And as they would see animals in a zoo

Or a strange object in a museum

One by one as they come and go

Subjecting her to torture as

Meat broken to pieces on a piece of wood

A sadistic pleasure that breaks

The mind to pieces


Wife’s funeral pyre as witness

The husband becomes a new groom soon

They erase her tilak

Rob her of all happiness

Break the bow of her rainbow

And stamp her as an inauspicious

The woman they see everyday

But on that day

After the barred moments are over,

Gathering courage, she peeps out

Of her house.

Then in white sari and blouse

Tilak made of sacred ash

She was an ugly picture

Drawn by religion!


Mandarapu Hymavathy is a leading poet in modern time in Telugu literature writing on feminist issues. Her poetry touches the conscience of the reader rather than provoking the anger and indignation on gender issues like human rights violations and domestic violence on women. 

Syamala Kallury


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