Mango Bites



Except a hamlet, village less…
except a caste, nameless…
except hard labour, pleasure less..
story of my Baappa, will you listen!

Baappa is not an ordinary one—–
like a tall papaya tree,
like a river that never looks back,
like a slender casuarina tree
that challenges the sky,
a very tall lady she was !
Tucking the sari,
as she headed for fields, with sickle on her shoulder,
like a six feet black cobra
standing on her tail end
was my Baappa!

What a lovely blackness!
blackness of clusters of rose apples,
blackness of a slice of tilled black cotton soil field,
blackness of black lotus blooming in abundance
in the irrigation channel!

Like the just harvested, spread
red chilly in the threshing yard
was the Vermillion mark on her dark forehead!

Apparently black in complexion only,
but my Baappa’s tenderness was
white as the flowers of water melon,
soft as silk cotton,
soothing as chilled gruel!

First my Baappa was born,
then toil has taken birth.
incarnation of a primitive tool was my Baappa!

At day break
crows on soap nut tree in the yard
looking at Baappa only
reckoned the hour!
Sweeping the front yard all the time

if she raised her broom held hand,
along with clouds,
all shimmering stars in the milky way
respectfully made way—
Diana at dawn turned pale
for her inability to remain spotless like the yard!

If she went to the pond to fetch water , enough,
water four steps below
lapped like young fish
kissing toes of my Baappa!

If monsoon breaks, enough,
half moist strips of clouds
secretly scurried about
in the eyes of my Baappa
that were never moist in pleasure or pain!

During transplantation season
if she planted with her finger tips
a single tender shoot, enough,
it extended like Palamur banyan tree—-
yet, my Baappa remained
like gleanings of corn!

Even the sun may have setting hours,
for my Baappa
with her back bone bent as a bow
respite was unknown!

Like caste discrimination suddenly visible
in the KalyanaM of village deity,
or in the mid day meal ritual of school children,
from the worn out silver anklets of my Baappa
lac appeared nervously!

For my Baappa—-
who knew only lifting loads through out life
quintal bags in the rice mills
posed no problem!

I regret why my Baappa
who could shred coir in coconut shop
keeping the fruit on her thigh
was not born at KaramcheDu !

I wonder why my Baappa
who kept guard along the river bund ,
with a lantern in hand
and some chilly powder in her chengu**,
whenever there were clashes with the village,
was not born at Tsunduru !

Unlike other times,
my Bappa’s presence is
all the more needed now!!

— Sikhamani


* Baappa : In some coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh father’s elder sister is affectionately
called Baappa by children in some communities.{Babu(=father)+Appa(=elder sister)}

**chengu: Free end of a sari used to tie or keep some material, as in rural areas.

1.KaraMcheDu \ Places where dalits were attacked and killed.


Telugu: Sikhamani
Translated by: Dr T.S.Chandra Mouli & B.B.Sarojini