Gandhi and Poem

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By K Sachidanandan

One day a slim poem
came to Ashram to see Gandhi.
Sitting head-down, Gandhi was spinning
thread leads to Rama.

Gandhi didn't acknowledge it first
which was standing at the door and
feeling shy of not being a bhajan.
When poem hawked, Gandhi
started questioning, looking askance through
his glasses which seen hell:
'Ever spun thread ?
Pulled scavenger's trolley ?
Felt smoke in the kitchen
after getting up at day-break ?
Ever starved ? '

Poem said:
'Born in the jungle
in a huntman's mouth.
And brought up in a fisherwoman's hut.
But don't know any work
but songs.
Lived in palaces
for long, singing
and was fat and fair then.
Now in street, with half-filled stomach.'

Gandhi said smiling:
'Thing you said last
is nice, but
should give up the habit of talking Sanskrit.
Go to fields,
listen how farmers talking.'
Poem reached the field,
metamorphosed as a seed and
lied waiting for the day
on which farmer will come to plough the land.

( Original is in Malayalam. Translated by TK Thomas. )

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