A phenomenal prose writer Lankesh was not specially known for his poems except for his ‘Nilu’ poems. But this one has moved so many people. Earthy in its perception of the mother, the poem so well captures what most of the modernist Kannada writers were doing: indexing the shift in the consciousness from rural to urban. The poem was translated by KV Tirumalesh, himself a great poet. It had appeared in Kavi Bharati- Triennial of Indian Poetry, March 1987.
* Lankesh (Translated by K.V. Tirumalesh)
Like a wild bear
She tended her children,
Cared for her husband and cared for the money.
She would howl like a hurt dog,
Groan and fight.
Mean, crooked and fretful like a monkey,
Guided only by the welfare of the family,
She would be a fury
If her son went out of her hand
Or husband went after another woman.
The jungle bear doesn’t want your scriptures;
My mother lived for a few morsels of food;
For work and for her children’s sake,
For a roof to live under,
For a sheet to cover,
For that upright walk
Among her equals.
For her are these tears of gratitude
And admiration – for bringing me up.
Bringing me to life
And for that departing – as if
It were to the fields that she went
This woman of the earth.