ONV Kurup
To Whom Shall I Bid Farewell?


This crowded bus unloads me, a junk freight,
at a point time marks out and comes slowly.
Here I stand hugging
my bowl of daily grub and rugged hold-all.
This eternal road opens its arms
a loving embrace holding me tight
an ocean holding a river in its arms.

Then, shall I say goodbye? But, to whom and why?


There were so many of them—
travelers and friends, sharing angst;
the young hungering after the honey
hoarded in metaphors;
those practicing the hymns of divine calm;
those who taught us to love the earth
and searched for her benign depths;
those who soared the luminous heights of the skies.
My eyes melt in the flow of those great minds;
my memory, yesterdays born lovely again.

Then, shall I say goodbye? But, to whom and why?


The treasure in our ancestors’ dictums,
the chemical sutras that ferment and sweeten
a life sadly gone sour;
the sun in a sparkling word,
a single seed sparking off meanings;
the fruit in a flower,
the tree in the fruit,
the chill in the fire;
the galaxy at the core of an atom,
the ongoing Mahabharatas in our lives.
Searching and reaching out
I’ve hung out at this wayside temple
with many of those pilgrims:

Then, shall I say goodbye to my temple?


Soon the westward shadows go back, doodling;
they nest in footsteps again
to wander into the eastern dawn.
Shall I say goodbye to those farmlands
where I found this shadow play, staged every day?
Shall I say goodbye to those alleys where
young and tender steps flit about?
Shall I say goodbye to those tree-shades
that quenched the thirst for sunshine,
milked the cool shower of moonlight?
Shall I say goodbye to those stone steps by the pond?
There, small sorrows relax their wings
singing lullabies to the noon’s hidden hunger,
and look out for grains leftover.
Shall I say goodbye to those beautiful courtyards,
jungles where the desires of youth
immolate themselves like darbhas
in the new yajnas where, to ring in a new world
they burn down everything…
Now shall I say goodbye? But, to whom and why?


You’ve already tabernacled in my heart,
though I’ve latched the windows of my senses.
When I blow out the five burning wicks,
suddenly you light up inside me in thousands.
And I recognize myself to be a little drop
in that compassionate stream of love inundating,
in the interval of waiting for the fulfillment
of blazing forth as a droplet of light.

Then, shall I goodbye? To whom and why?

Translated from the Malayalam by T.R. Joy