Friday, October 31, 2014

Batuku Poru - B S Ramulu's Novel

Batuku Poru is a novel in Telangana Dialect.
Lives of Beedi workers of Karimnagar district comes out in its true colors in this novel.
I volunteered to translate the work into English.
Now, "Struggle of Life" is available in the market.

Here I bring an excerpt from the novel. 

I don't have to now, tell that this is one of the best Telugu novels ever written.People have alreday said that!
I am happy that I could translate it!!

Time was approaching eight or eight thirty. The time the bazzars open wide, the time children hurry to go to school. The time vegetable market is abuzz. Time people complete their private chores and begin with the public work.

“Your Mother! I would go to school. What should I eat and go” Sreenu was angry with displeasure and sadness twined together.

“Am I sitting quiet? One after the other I am doing things!” said Lakshmi and washed the rice and put it on the hearth.

“Take this bag and go get some vegetables from the market” again she gave him some task.
“It is school time. Give me a head bath. I wouldn’t go to the market. Sreenu protested and hurried mother.

“Ayyo! Your Servant me! Dal always, your father is complaining for the last three days. Please Go!” Lakshmi pleaded with him.

He thought it was unavoidable, grumbling, he took the bag and walked to the market. The sister followed the brother.

Washerwoman Maisi came for the clothes, saying “Give the clothes” from ten yards afar as if cautioning.

She collected the two quits that Nani soiled, and the clothes scattered here and there and gave her. She gave some more bed clothes. Bringing the sarees that she left from the wicker box, she said, “How is it if you come once in ten days? Should there be so many sarees? I washed two sarees myself!” almost chiding.

“When did ten days pass? Friday to Friday, it is eight days. For the wages of ten rupees, if not four times in a month, how many times can we come? The money that you give would not be enough for the soda that I use for the clothes.’ May be a life that is used to fighting, Maisi raised the voice up.

“Then why are you washing clothes? Tiring the limbs… stop it!” Can’t we wash our clothes?” she knew that it was not possible,  and the soap for the task itself would cost twenty rupees, she stiil laughingly chided the woman.

“It is the caste profession and that a morsel of rice would be available, we do this, otherwise what is theer in it? Washing your monthly dirty and soiled clothes, the body has dried off. All the day slogging in the sun, I turned into coal. With the spilling of the soda water, the hair turned red. With only two children people tell me that I look like an old woman. What is in caste profession. Our life is worse than all.” Saying so she folded the sarees and made a bundle. Looks like somehow Maisi is sick of the life. Lakshmi could not shout like earlier suppressing her.

“Now I would leave” Maisi started walking.

“Stop there. Don’t know when you would come again. I would give the saree on me too” she took a washed saree from the rod, and wearing it, she gave the saree on her.

“Then why don’t you give me the rice right now” taking the saree and folding it said, Maisi.
“Ayyo! I am here giving you the clothes and don’t know what happened to the rice on the stove!” she jumped to the stove in one leap. Water from the rice spilled out and the fire in the hearth was out. The rice was not cooked properly. It was half cooked and unevenly cooked. She picked through it and saw.

“May your stove burn! How many sides I should see?” she was vexed and was blowing into it. “rice is simmering, Go to another house and come. Then I would give you” she said.
“I would go the house of this sir then” Maisi went away with the bundle.

Sreenu came with the vegetables. “Brother did not allow me to carry the bag” complained Sraaswati.

“After a few days you only can go to the market alone, leave it!” laughingly said Lakshmi taking care not to suppress the urge to work.

“May be it is time, go to the school” she got up to wash the plates.

“Your Mother! You said you would give me a head bath with hot water today!” Sreenu wailed. He was tapping his feet on the floor and was moving the door sideways.

“Yes, I said, but did the work got over? Hurrying I put the rice for you only. Tomorrow I would give bath. Leave it!” convincing them she gave rice in the plates.

Sir said he would beat if at least today, I don’t take head bath, apply oil and comb” Sreenu made a sorrow face.

“What should I do then? Is my work coming to a rest? For today draw cold water and take bath go! Tomorrow I would rub your head” she cajoled him patting on the head.
People on the side are heckling that I am one with head that wreaks” Sreenu revealed the fact looking face down and with anguish.

Only one day today, if tomorrow Saturday passes through, day after is Sunday, school wouldn’t be there, I would give head bath leisurely what else?” Give sister also bath” she cajoled him.

However much it is there in the heart that she should make her children up like all the others, with the unending work, that is remaining a wish unfulfilled. Do they know how to take bath or what? If one side is drenched, the other would not even get wet. Even after pouring water in hurry, the knee remains as oily as it was. If she wants to give them a bath, the work would never come to a pause. “Poor kids” her heart went for them.

“I have to leave I have to leave” from a distance the washerwoman Maisi came yelling.
She put the rise that was put in two plates for the children into one and gave it to Maisi. Lakshmi sat to cut the vegetables.

Children took bath and dried themselves with the towel.

She gave them rice in the plates and gave some mango chutney.

“Your Mother! I wouldn’t eat with chutney go! I would get curds. Give me four annas.” 

Sreenu asked rubbing the plate on the ground as if complaining why chutney every morning.
‘Aan! As if money is there! Eat if you want or leave it!” she turned the anguish inside into anger she shouted making a grim face.

“Then I wouldn’t go to school!” Sreenu made fuss.

Don’t go, what is in it for me? Who would become wise when studying? If you don’t want to study, make beedis like me. You would at least get a little money. When I say eat well and go to school, it is becoming a big thing! Like father, would you take a job in the shop then?” said Lakshmi.

Lakshmi in order to make the existing line small would draw a bigger line. When talked about bigger tasks Sreenu would get cold. Whenever such words are told Sreenu would shut mouth like as if someone tells a rat, there look the cat!.

He did not talk further and ate then arranged his books. He looked here and there and asked mother “Where is my fountain?”

“What do I know? Wherever you have thrown it. Look for it”

“I want a slate pencil” Saraswati asked.

“What did you with yesterday’s one?’ asked Lakshmi looking angrily.

“I left it here only, now it is not there” said Saraswati pointing at a cornice.

“You need a new slate pencil every day. Would throw them somewhere. Then come asking for it. Study fistful and pencils handful! It is only after all studying!” Lakshmi became angry. She cut off the fibre on another bundle of leaves and removed the reddened leaves.

“Only you have thrown my fountain somewhere. Would give to the hand of the brother well. He would play and throw it somewhere.  Again you would blame me.” Saying Sreenu searched all the cornices.

Pen was found. He opened the cap and saw. Nib was broken.

“Mother! Nib is broken. I want eight annas. Only you have broken it giving it to brother. I don’t know! Aan!” Sreenu put the blame on the mother.

“Why did I give? You pulled it when sister was holding and did it not hit the wall? I don’t know. I don’t have money. Write however you want, go!’ Lakshmi chided.

“When I pulled it from her it was alright” those words came out as if trying to make an untruth appear true. The words were giving out the truth after all.

“Abbo! Pranks! They don’t go with me. If I put it on her, you thought I would give money isn’t it? I would slap you on the cheek if you utter lies.’ She lifted the hand as if to hit.
“The math tables book is torn. How should I get them by heart? Your Mother, Sir would thrash, I wouldn’t go to school, go!” he invented another reason to bunk school and told.
‘Ahaan! That saw is over and you started this saw! It is after all to extract money somehow from me isn’t it? Go copy tables from someone’s book in the school. Is there a tree of money in the backyard to buy a book whenever it is torn?” Lakshmi said shifting Nani from the left arm to the right and suckling.

“I would just not go to school” Sreenu made fuss, hitting the door to the wall again and again.

“If I kick, the bones should break. Till now chased me saying you would go to school. After eating well, now say, you wouldn’t go. Aaan!” Lakshmi acted as if going to hit Sreenu, acting like getting up. It was like she got the real message.

“Aan, I know you donkey. You have not got the tables by heart and making this ruse. Go get thrashed well by the master, what is for me?” Did I say no when you were studying?” she scolded.

“Your Mother! When should I study? Always you ask me to carry brother.” He wanted to tell something more. Lakshmi picked up in the middle.

“Carried him much! Leave it! If you don’t carry, would he not play?’

Lakshmi knows that she herself gives work and also shouts. Even the just to forget the stress, she would shout at Sreenu. He is the only one who would bear he anger. Poor fellow!
“Did you not make me twine the thread when I said I would mug up tables?” without his help work would not be over. Even then Lakshmi acts smug.

‘Abbo! You must have twined on bundle of thread. Then where from did you think money would come for your teas, biscuits, and pencils. I would stop making beedis. Would you eat gruel. You should get up in the night and study well.” Lakshmi made a suggestion showering love.

“I got up to study and did you not ask me to fetch dung? Did you not make me draw water for dung sprinkling? Sreenu said complaining.

Lakshmi was happy heart of hearts for the courage of Sreenu matching word for word. It is not as if she does not know all those things. They are knowingly unavoidable tasks. That is why when he makes a cross question, she would evade the answer intelligently and throw the blame on Sreenu and keeps her status.

“Have done a lot OK! It is after all, you people who jump around and make the entire front yard bumpy! If you don’t jump around, nothing would happen however many days, I don’t sprinkle dung water” she said.

“What happened, give me money for the nib” Sreenu brought up the matter that was supposed to be forgotten.

“May your chiding drown! Here1 take! With all the love inside, talking apparently with anger, handed over a eight anna coin. “Buy a slate pencil for sister also” said Lakshmi. Sreenu with the bag of books in hand, Saraswati with the slate with the eight annas ran enthusiastically.

Lakshmi heaved with rest and happiness.

“Avvalla! I would miss all the ruckus till one in the noon!” thought Lakshmi for self.
As if reminding that he is there, Nani in the arms started crying. “Ya! Now I have it with you! Do you want me to throw in some school?’ she pinched his cheek, kissed and then started suckling.

She cooked the vegetables. The hearth made of bran fell off. “may the hearth burn off! Fell off so soon1’ she muttered and showed two pieces of wood into it and threw some wood shavings and started to blow making noise. She brought water in the mud pot and placed it on it.

“When should this water boil, when should I give this fellow a bath, when should he go to sleep, when shoul my leaves be over, when should my work come to an end, when should I get to the company, she started feeling pensive, picked up the basket of leaves, scissors, and the bundles of leaves and sat with tehm before the stove for cutting the leaves.

“One task would get over if I give him a bath and make him sleep. All the clothes of the children are soiled. If I give them to the washer woman she would spoil them. Even after her washing the clothes remain dirty. “He’ has only two shirts. One on the person is also soiled. I have to wash his shirt also, so thinking again she got up from the leaves and put the clothes in the water. She washed the underpants and the vest that the husband left after bath in the morning and laid them to dry, then she with the leaves.

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