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Translations/paraphrases and summaries of select poems

in the collection of poems, Navarasam by Mannaramuthu Ahnaf



Professor Sumathy Sivamohan and Dr. Mahendran Thiruvarangan

A note on the translations: We have translated in verse or in paraphrase select poems of

Navarasam. The selection is representative of the range of topics and emotions demonstrated
in the collection. A few poems are translated in a summary form.

1. The One Who Knows Everything (Muttrarivan, pp. 17-18)

Summary: This poem is dedicated to extolling the might and glory of God, the one who
knows everything. He is the SELF; and without him there is no other. This poem is in the
category of the rasa, Wonder (Atputham).


Seven skies and seven worlds,

the seven phases of humanity, of men and women.

The week has seven days,

seven types of hell, and the seven cities of heaven.

Is there a single fault,

in this creation?

Seek those faults out, in exhaustion,

you will find yourself in the pillory.

If you abuse the noble leader, God himself,

you will turn into an ass,

a mule.
Three or thirty thousand?

Thirty times thirty million.

Are there so many

Gods in this world?

God: A self born of itself; without that self

there is not a single movement,

not even that of a blade of green grass;

the arrow will not reach its target,

nor the stalk wither.

Hey, Humanity! Believe, and in faith,

there will be no ill(ness) in your mind.

To those who investigate,

while the bamboo grows tall,

and with nerves that feel, exhausted–

[Long and exhaustingly,

With pain of mind and body – is the meaning of the above two lines]

This may seem a wonder;

But to God, this is just

a wee tiny thing he does in his stride.

The song of the river

is like its flow;

Fate comes looking for you,

and you are wiser now.

The lord of heaven seeks you out.

If you turn him down,

that’s your sad plight.

Water boils on fire.

You may jump into its midst;

That’s your line of destiny.

God is great and above all.

Be moral and be true, don’t indulge in low-down intrigues,

for God’s intrigue is greater than all others.

Your pace of action is slow,

His is quick and strong.

Do not any wrong,

for you will turn to dust.

Do not hatch plots,

you will be trapped in them.

Do not be brought low by proud but inferior thoughts,

Embrace duty in your mind.

Man learns through study

God: He knows everything.

2. A Poem for a Convention (Maanaatuk Kavi – pp. 29-33)

This poem was read at a youth convention held on the theme of “Creating a world without
drugs” in 2016 organised by OMSED. The poem is about a man who with his wasteful ways
has ruined the life of the woman he has married.

Summary in paraphrase: I have come here to tell in verse the story of a beautiful young
woman whose life was ruined by a man, who was roaming about, with his head in the clouds,
and with his discordant ways. In an outraged and moving tone, she tells her story in this
poem. The rasa is humour.

She says, I married him; thinking that he was God fearing and led a life of principles;
chastised those who did wrong.

I married him one month/I was married to him for a month.

I forgot him one month. My heart broke during another month. I began to be disgusted and to
hate him another month. Some told me to forget him; Others said, he is your husband, forget
about his ways and accept him. He speaks English, these are the ways of such men. He will
give up his ways one day; Men are so—said various others. In other words, the advice given
by many around me is to put up with the abusive and wasted ways of her husband.

He has completely passed out – after shooting up Indian Ganja. He is in a torpor. He is

without virility or any goodness. All my hopes are dashed. I hoped to have in my betrothed
all the virtues of a good man. But nobody, not even one’s wife nor one’s mother wants to
have anything to do with a junkie, a man hooked on dopey dope.

3. Dance, for he is a man (Aadu avan aadavan, pp. 34 – 36)

Summary: This poem requests women to walk in a way that does not provoke men to regard
them in a sexually objectifying manner leading to sexual violence. The poem also asks
women to dress in such a way that their bodies are appropriately covered (not covering the
face, but the body) and refrain from applying make-up on their faces and bodies. If women do
not heed the advice given by the speaker, and face sexual violence as a result, there is no
point in bemoaning and complaining about it later. Even the notion of women’s liberation
will have no use in such a context. This is a country where women lead a disciplined life. If
they err in their conduct, the country will fall too. The rasa here is humour.

Dear lass, with a vine like waist,
and with a swinging gait,
Do not sway your hips,
at men, who in a dizzy faint,
are felled to the ground by this sight.

Learn a lesson- that

it is a sin, for a woman,
to walk dancingly, with swaying hips,
and lure men to her side, who wilt,
in a consuming desire.

With your vinelike waist

And your swaying gait,
He, the man, like a goat, will think
it’s an edible creeper,
and graze on your body.

You walk in the country,

in the bazaar,
and the city,
in full cover of your face,
and a full garb of cloth on your body.

But your body,

Quivers all over, thighs, hips, the slight waist;
The body quivers in full frame.

Even the cattle,

have dignity in their bearing,
They do not falter, but are in step.
They step aside, discreetly,
when they unite, to mate.

The listless man of the street,

is troubled in his mind by what he sees,
by the dress with all its intricate working and style,
and the great pains, you have taken over it.

You my sister, your body hugging clothes,

and skin-tight attire, drives the stranger mad,
and he strips you bare. Then you cry,
“Oh, this stranger and alien,
abuses me with his words and touch, and
has dishonoured me!
The chaste lineage of womanhood is dragged through the mud—"
Such words of appeal are of no use, afterwards.

countless jewels of many kinds,
and many sweet smelling scents on the body,
with streaks of coloured hair
and lips painted in various shades,

twist and turn,
wiggle and lure
a lad, hardly ten,
into a delirium of desire.

After fanning the flames of enmity,
aghast, you cry out that the chaste
sanctity of the woman is breached,
and you have been defiled.

Even the devil relents at the sight of a woman,

and shows mercy.
But the monster that is man is pitiless.
In a world where freedom is,
women are murdered. No?
Women’s liberation has no meaning, no benefit
to anyone, anywhere.

You dance! He is a man, he will graze anywhere.

You shall cover, not your face,
but your body in full.

In Lanka, women live a life of modesty and virtue,

If not, and they fault, the country declines in its standing.
If it falls from virtue, then it is brought down low.

Five poems in the category of the rasa Heroism/Courage (Veeram) have been translated,
paraphrased or given in a summary form. These poems are: “Himalayas will come crashing
down,” “Self,” “War,” “Movement/Mobility” and “Water.” These five poems in their
different ways extol the virtues of restraint, patience, ahimsa (non-violence), perseverance, a
life of piety and righteousness and other positive values.

4. The Himalayas will come crashing down (Idiyum Imaiyam pp. 43-44)

Summary: This poem is about how one should strive to do well in life, and achieve much,
like climbing the Himalayas and making it succumb to one’s perseverance. Himalayas is a
common idiom in Tamil as regards how one would overcome obstacles and reach great
heights in life.


Look at the great mighty Himalayas

I fear to climb it now,

But when the opportunity arises,

I will cross its peaks;

This is what I daily think and put off doing;

But life (may) ends today,

Your aim then falls to the ground

bites the dust. (dies there – literal translation)

If you can, every second of your life,

Abolish all thoughts of cowardice and fear,

They will disappear, in death,

[those thoughts of cowardice and fear].

The world will be a new dawn for you.

If you are courageous,

Your sorrows will end,

If you give up (succumb)

You will bear the slur that comes with it.

Every minute, think you can do,

Then the world is for you.

Every step you take,

The world’s people will pay homage to you.

The river flows

into mid-sea,

It does not stand still for an entire day,

planning its route.

It flows, not caring for the obstacles placed in its way;

Whatever will be, will be.

Impediments will be


Regardless, it keeps moving.

There is a rock in its way,

blocking its path,

If there is a dam impeding its progress,

It passes over it.

To achieve its goal

It bursts forth, in full stride;

It breaks through the rock;

The rock heaves and flies, uprooted.

A new path is charted for its flowing way.

The rock stays still.

It does not sink or break into two.

The river rises, it stands high, and walks over the stone.

If you shape yourself like that river

You can achieve what you like,

Even if the Himalayas stand in your way,

You can conquer it; it will lie vanquished

and smashed.

5. Self (Suyam pp. 45-46)

Summary: The poem is about how you need to live with dignity. You can give, and you can
take, but do not let anybody take what is yours without your knowledge. That is not the rule
of the land. If somebody takes my wife, I will stand tall and kick him. If you let your wife
become the possession of the town, in your lethargy, you do so, but I will ask the
townspeople to burn you.

We have to have the strength of self for ourselves, and have self dignity. We have to develop
that trait; we cannot take our respect from another; it has to grow within us.

6. War (Yuttham p. 47)

Summary: The poem war is about personal will and standing your ground against an
adversary – a personal adversary whose morals are not desirable. It says, eschew violence;
speaking up is important, but not with the bow and arrow, nor with guns, but with moral


Say it is my will,
Quash the constant sadness in me.

The delirium that has risen to my head.

Stop it.

Slay it and do war on it.

War is not about wielding a knife,

Or shooting with a pistol.

He who humiliates the other,

with insults,

and the one who is proud

and threatened me, with a lease on my life.

He, who is loud and boastful in speech,

arrogant and proud;

Astound them.

Do not wilt, stand tall

And wage war.

7. Movement/Mobility (Naharvu, pp.48-50)

Summary: The poem talks about how the city of Mecca was before the coming of Prophet

Mohammed and how he and his disciples set up the Caliphate that cleansed the place of sin.


Stanzas 1-4: The city of Mecca was the birthplace of great sin, the ignorant and the barbaric,

those who abused women, and were marauders. It gave succour to those who were generally

wallowing in sin; roaming about without food. Women went about without attire.

5-8: The Prophet Mohammed arrived. He was the foremost of all prophets. He taught the

sinners the right way to live. He cleansed the sins of soldiers, swordsmen skilled in their

swordsmanship, sophists or rhetoricians, the common people who did not know to

discriminate (right from wrong), and those who had fallen into the ways of sin and were

heading toward Hell.

9-15: The word of the Prophet soared across seas that even the bees who had come to collect

the pollen in flowers could not pass. The word of the Prophet went far and wide. Those

nations that had never heard of the name of the prophet, when they heard his name, were

speechless. They brought their hands together in obeisance, and humility and bowed to him in

respect. The prophets took the word of his name to many parts of the world. Abu Bakr, Omar,

Osman, Ali – these four. These four set up their reigns and governed in righteousness. Those

overreaching and arrogant nation trembled at the name of the Prophet and the might of these

good disciples. Then these reigns and states, Ummayad, Abbasid, Ottoman and Mughal lost

their power to European empires. They lost their influence and lost their meaning. But just

because the Caliphate fell does not mean we have become low. Another Caliphate will rise

again. Rivers do not flow backwards.

8. Water (Thanner p.51)

Summary: The poem is about being cool and collected and being good, serving all, like
Water. It extols the virtues of patience and the path of Ahimsa.


God is certain to test us, forever.

We will sincerely preach his word,

Keep our faith, and achieve much.

We will grit our teeth,

and with submission to God, wait,

even if the adversary

aims at us with the stone in the catapult sling,

and aims the arrow at us,

with his bow.

Even if we have to walk through fire,

Languish without food,

Be struck with disease,

We will follow the path of Ahimsa (non-violence)

The wild-forest river, joins others,

Grows, and

May destroy us altogether, collectively.

But we will destroy dishonesty and hypocrisy,

At home and in the country,

And set off on our journey,

in unity.

Our voices will ring against injustice,

Justice will prevail, in all its glittering glory.

The fruit of the Nelli tastes, first, sour and then sweet,

We will be like this water, cold, cool, and soothing.

Some will set fire to our lives?

Who (some) will put out the burning fires?

If we are cool and collected, you will be nourished.

If we are in rage, you will flounder,

We will be like water; hence, we are water

9. You shall create/Moulding oneself (Uruvakku pp. 59-60)

Summary: This is in the category of the rasa Shanthi, meaning, peace and tranquillity. It
calls upon the person to lead a clean, dutiful and moral life and follow the path carved out in
the Holy Book. The rasa is Peace and Tranquility.

Why liquor – it brings us nothing good, but wickedness.

Why women – It brings nothing good, but wickedness.

Why game and gamble – it brings us nothing good, but wickedness.

Why seek the good?

for it is good for us.

We create dreams, visions of the good.

Disregard and dismiss all wasteful dreams –

It is good for us.

Dismiss thoughts of,

this is mine, and this is yours

It is all ours – why quarrel then?

Be rid of,

false briefs (law suits)

false accounting,

false snippy reports.

Speak true and express the truth.

Control the senses of the body,

And the arrogance of the mind,

Do not take pride in yourself,

Take control of your tongue growing long,

And fold it in your overreaching hand.

Begin your day with goodness.

Tomorrow the world is ours,

The east will dawn goodly.

When we live good, smooth, and correct,

Conflicts and squabbles will be a great waste of time,

causing delay.

Untangle yourself,

from all knotty concerns of life.

If we arm ourselves with guns,

It will only rebound on us (attack us);

It will affect us, adversely.

We wage war without weapons,

Our words are our weapons/gun.

Use time with care and be on time,

Create/make many deeds.

Melt hearts of stone,

And rid yourself of the mind that would not learn.

Nip in the bud, a wicked mind,

Spurn the hypocrite, who says one thing,

and does else.

Give generously to those,

who suffer from,

the diseases of the blood,

of the high tides of the sea and the river, overflowing;

of floods, and learn to live

with your neighbour.

teach others to do so, as well.

The Holy Book says all this;

Abide by its sayings,

and make a good country/nation.

10. Moderation (Mathimam p. 62-63)

Summary: This poem exhorts the reader to be dutiful and to lead a pious life; a life that is
not extreme in its conduct. We should never lift a hand against anyone, bear arms, or wield a
gun for that is against the sacredness of human life; dress appropriately, but not cover the
face as that is extreme. Not boast or verbally abuse anyone, for these are extremes. We will

believe in the one God and lead a civic life of piety. We shall not abandon life’s duties, but
plough the land when the tank’s water rises, and live a life, bounded by principles. The rasa is
Peace and Tranquility.

11. Say No (Vendaam p. 67).

Summary: This poem is deeply critical of the violence that the United States of America
perpetrates on other countries. The poem says that America rules countries of the world,
through its puppet allies who sit in the parliament of those countries. It is an indictment of the
super-power operations of the United States. This poem is placed in the rasa Anger


You reign over the world,

you are the world’s enemy.

with your allies in the parliaments of the world,

puppets of your own making,

who are there for themselves.

You suck blood from the

gashed and torn bellies of the people of these countries.

You have fame, like the peak of a mountain,

America, who wields in its hand,

The staff of cruelty and injustice.

Those who are fierce, do not just give up.

The world has seen this hundreds of years before.

You humiliated great sages and saints,

Calling them weak and low; bruited it abroad,

Spreading the word, far and wide,

with rolling drums;

Their suffering increased.

Do not scoff at us, humiliatingly.

Do not sneer and laugh uproariously,

at our country.

Do not spew your vomit at our women,

Do not auction off their breasts and bodies in the public market.

Do not think, you Jew,

That the earth lies at your feet.

In the end, we are, one and all,

living beings, given life

by the one and true God.

12. The Burmese Ancestry of Rohignya Muslims (Burmeeya Poorveeham pp. 68-71)

Summary: the poem is about the horrific injustice and violence faced by the Muslims of
Burma (Myanmar). The poem asks the perpetrators whether they are not human like others,
and whether they have not families, and loved ones, and have ordinary human functions, or
whether they are inhuman and are like cannibals. There was a time when the Buddhists in
Burma ate, sang, and played with the Muslims there, but that time is gone. The poem also
says that God will see that justice is done. The poem is in the category of the rasa Anger.


You call it spirituality. You have no pretence of non-violence. You have no morality. You see
them as strategies in a war: You are setting fire to the ancient Muslim race of Burma. Stop.

Clad in saffron, waiting near the bazaar, you waylay the walking Muslim and set him alive on

fire. Stop your jubilations.

For seventeen years, in the registration books, lines have been drawn in blood. They have lost
their homes, cattle, and country.

There is a boat in the heart of the sea and the sea is in that boat; and our people are in the eye
of that sea. They set off on that journey of death in fear.

The times when the Burmese Buddhists used to dance, sing, play and mingle with our people
are all gone. Now they insult them, demanding they leave, telling them there is no refuge for
them in Burma, only graves.

There is no room here to be happy or to eat and drink. There is Asin Virathu who kills and

You cut off the breasts of pregnant women and rape them. Then you tear open their wombs
and take the babies out and make them drink the urine. Dogs who eat human flesh!

During Ramadan last, it was Palestine; the previous year, Egypt; this time it is Burma. Is the
Muslim an object of ridicule and insult?

Are you cocky because there is no one to question you? Yes, there may not be anybody to
challenge you, but there is the support of the one true God for our resisting battle.

When you come to us with your axes, mammotties, arecanut cutters, did you think we would
allow you to destroy us?

The river that flows, the winds that blow straight, and the thunder that rattles like a battle will
descend on you.

What can be cut can be cut with a cutter, that we know. We know your secret manoeuvres.
What about you? We respond in a due manner.

Do not think you have broken their homes, dashed the tiles of the roof on the ground to
pieces. Or that you have broken open the cage where the pet parrot lived; Or imprisoned their
cattle and shut their houses or closed the mouths of these Burmese, with a long lineage. Don’t
think that you have been able to tie their mouths, and break their limbs; their backbone; that
you have succeeded. You have tested our patience enough.

You have tested our patience taught to us by prophet Mohammed. You have shown anger on
us. God has put a curse on you.

You evil men who put those who were hungry in the fire. There will come a time when you
too will burn in fires. You will burn to ashes.

When the mother cries, you put her infant on the grinding stone and grind the baby into

Don’t you have siblings? Don’t you secrete sperm? Don’t you give birth to children? Don’t
your cows live and die? You are a human too, no?

Are you a fanatical animal calling itself a human? Don’t you know this? Don’t you
understand this? Your heart did not burn seeing this horror?

Haven’t you treated your neighbour like an elder brother or younger brother in times of need?
Haven’t you interacted with people?

Oh God, help those who died enter heaven. Destroy the hooligans the way you want.

13. France Wails (France Pilliri Aluhirathu p. 72)

Summary: The poem bemoans the fact that when there is trouble in France, the UN is quite
attentive, while so many other countries that Muslims inhabit have been attacked; but the UN
does not protest. The rasa here is Anger.


Kashmir is in ashes,

Gaza cries out loud,

Burma lets off a horrific howl,

Syria is splintering.

Afghanistan sets up a loud cry,

Egypt screams out, in pain.

On all these nations, the enemy

sets off his burning missiles to land.

No watch, no query, nobody

who wants to know and take account,

There is nobody who lets his/her glance rove in that direction,

to query the right of it.

Nobody has the temerity to do it.

Nobody queries the right of it.

But France bleats,

The UN too, nods at it, in agreement,

And bows its head in submission to the tones of this sound.

14. A Poem for a Gathering (Mandrakavi, pp. 73 – 75).

Summary: The poem begins by praising God almighty. Then it speaks about the false
political campaigns carried out by powerful actors including the US and the betrayals Arabs
have been subjected to. The poet then goes on to talk about the violent acts committed by the
ISIS and repudiates its attempts to speak on behalf of Islam. The speaker then takes the UN to
task for its failures and the charades it churns out. The poem ends with a question about how
the obstacles to peace can be overcome and when truth will see the light of the day. This is in
the category of Rasa Anger.


Unparalleled, uncontained, boundless and without bonds, he executes what he ordains,

halting that on the move, and placing us on a stage of unfolding drama. Our good Lord. Our
Almighty whose name I invoke! All praise goes to him, Alhamdulillah.

He is the one and only. He is our God. He sent us his messenger. He is the earth’s charioteer,
its hero, an excellent sailor who guides those adrift in the sea.

Let’s praise Prophet Muhammad. Let darkness spread sparingly. It is rarely that a poem takes
conception. It is common for people to become sinners quickly. I sprinkle pieces of gold at
the feet of our tradition. Asalamalaikkum.

Bullying. Fake campaigns, fake shows and false praise. America gave them succour. The
whole world colluded with them. They betrayed the Arabs. Now they are bold with their
interviews! I have come to tell the story of the ISIS’s cruelty, their violence and the suffering
they have caused. I have come to spit on those unruly scoundrels. I have come to smear their
faces with cow-dung liquid. I have come here to do that so that at least I could escape the
(wrath) of God.

They say they have established a goodly state. The Islamic State is calling everyone to join
them. The heads of many are shattered. The drums of battle roll out the name of Dharma. It
calls for war, sets off arrow after arrow. America is busy taking care of itself. The bog has
been stirred. The bait is on the hook. The money makers are thriving.

When you shove people, who cannot even get up on their own, into the bounded pond, cage
them in it, kill them and later say, “our way is the Prophet’s way,” could one call it justice?

Lives wither. Crops scream. The stench of corpses rises in circles. So many children are
crying. But the pig-headed idiot is blabbering that the religious way, religion, Islam, is
blooming. Which system of justice would call this just?

Heads, strands of hair, and hands of children are scattered across all of Syria. There is none
left, to think that the decaying corpses need a burial.

UN, you hold your meetings, folding your together in welcoming gesture; with many in
attendance, with pomp and fanfare, with displays of women’s bodies. When will your lying
tongue, lie still in defeat?

Rein in and bring to heel these unbowing arrogant impediments. When will that be? When
will truth, lying prone without life, rise again?

15. How can I Celebrate Eid? (Eppadi Kondaduvathu pp. 76-78)

Summary: this poem talks about the injustice and violence Muslims across the world are
facing and the inability of the writer to celebrate Eid while there is so much suffering of
fellow Muslims all over the world. The poem goes onto say that when one day there is no
war, he will celebrate Eid. The rasa is anger.


The meadow is lush and verdant. The highway is full of people. There is an army of birds in
the park. There is a beautiful moment at dawn. The flames of the sun burn beautifully at dusk.

When all these come together and the people in their crores gather together to recite the
Takbir, we will celebrate.

But that is not so. When the children of Syria while playing laughingly are reduced to pieces
by the surging cannons of fire, how can I celebrate Eid?

Black attire. Hatred upfront. Spewing fire! We shall slipper them! The ISIS is responsible for
it all. Who is to check them and say No?

When my brother and sister wept and were burnt in Burma, I remained dead like a mummy.
And the day after, how can I celebrate Eid?

When my cousin and aunt have their heads bored through, when their flesh is popping out,
and when they lie fainted, how can I celebrate Eid?

When my uncle and aunt are burnt alive with petrol and the world turns a blind eye, how can
I celebrate Eid?

When in Palestine, death is an invitee. There is a heap of bullets there. The corpses of our kin
smell foul in the absence of care. We go unperturbed. How can I celebrate Eid?

When we eat the dates from the trees of Arabia standing tall and beautifully and all kinds of
dishes to break the fast,

there are those in Aska who break their fast holding bullets, guns, stones and catapults in their
hands. Then how can I celebrate Eid?

In India, amidst the thundering of drums, a characterless fellow is asserting “cut them into
pieces”. When I don’t have the guts to challenge him, how can I celebrate Eid?

The one who came to rule the whole world, taught us mercy and showed us the path to
heaven, Prophet Mohammed. When bombs go off in his grave, how can I celebrate Eid?

The world over, while wellness is waning and enmity stays alive, the fires of hell overflow.

Shall each of us give a handful of blood? Won’t this war end even then?

There is war all the time. Blood and noise. Once we have wiped them all off and have made a

brand new world free of war, and then if we celebrate Eid in our new clothes, I will also

16. Say No to Smoking (Puhai Pahai p.93)

Summary: This is a light-hearted appeal to the listener to give up smoking and to turn upon
life, a joyous face. This is in the rasa Fear (Awe)


Smile, just a little!

When asked to smile,

They smoke,

Why do you smoke?

They turn hostile

Smoking – it is our enemy

Return a smile – it erases conflict;

Let’s smile at one another,

Say no to smoking and its power

Let’s taste well the goodness of life.

17. Is Death the end? (Maranamenna Mudivu 98-99)


The poem requests the reader to lead a moral and principled life; if one gets rid of thoughts of
sin and lead a moral life and if you do good in this world, the gates of heaven will open for
you, like the ripe fruit of the Jak, that sweetens your tongue. But if you do ill, then your
tongue will taste only rotten meat. In this vein the poem extols the virtues of a moral life. We
have Heaven or Hell awaiting us after death. Our choice of one or the other depends on how
we live our life. Our decision seals our fate. The rasa here is Fear (Awe of God).

18. Aleppo is Going to Fall (Aleppo Vilappokirathu, pp. 103-105)

Summary: The poem is critical of the Arab world for its inability to provide the support that
Aleppo is in need of in overcoming the injustices it has been facing. The speaker inveighs
against the Arab world for being timid, inept and indulging in prayers at a time when it
should have stood in solidarity with Aleppo. While being critical of the United Nations for its
biases in handling the crisis in Aleppo, the poem makes it clear in its concluding lines that
Arabs need to expend their energy towards strengthening Aleppo’s quest for justice.
Throughout, the poem plays on the end rhymes Aleppo, Alappo (go and cry), Vilappo (go
and fall), Elappo (Arise). The rasa is Satire.


Humanity is going to cry. Now Aleppo is going to fall. When will justice and fair play arise?

Aleppo – you go cry, you go fall, you go rise, you go pray. I don’t care. Wholesome money is
all I need.

Whatever happens to you, what is that to me? Whatever you go through, what is that to me?

So long as there are nitwits who think in this way, when is Aleppo going to rise? When will
we take hold of justice and fairness with our hands?

You say you will not, even by chance, let the one who commits faults or wrongdoings go scot
free, but detect and punish him. You, a miser of justice, keep escaping, with these empty
words. There is none among us to call your bluff and shame you with coal on your face.

All the demons have gotten together and castrated the Arab world. The nyctalopic Arab
World, you boast you have an inner eye and an outer eye, but what do you, but eat porridge
made of Kurakkan grain.

What have you done, Arab World to wipe off the sorrows of women, wives, and the common
folks? Can you not see? Your eyes are closed.

You sought shelter for your goat with a fox and kept your eggs in the care of a snake. Oh,
headless Arab world!

There is none to wipe off the tears shed in Aleppo. There are no mosques to worship, nor a
hut to sleep till the dawn. There is no media to write epic tales of it. The guns as they put

down roots, have grown tall as the banyan tree, echoing ceaselessly.

As long as there are bootlicking dogs roaming the streets, is it possible to live in peace,
Daughter? Is there any place for the destitute to go?

Will our wives, sisters and women die in the bombs, Daughter? To save their honour and
self-respect they will hang themselves in broad daylight.

If words have truth, thoughts well-meant and the journey does not go astray, and there is
lasting patience, then there is victory for us. There are flowers in the bombs that fall. Let’s
fall dead to enter heaven and be happy.

Comrade, you go when Aleppo is ready to rise. Pray for Aleppo to arise. When Aleppo is
about to rise, you go praying. Praying for Aleppo to rise, you go cry. Without your labour,
without the weariness of hard work, Aleppo will never arise. Therefore, you go pray.

19. The compassion of the sea the Arab possesses not (Arabukku illa akkarai
Aalkadal, pp. 108-09)

Summary: This poem chastises Arab countries for their arrogance and lack of concern for
the suffering that the people undergo, owing to the war in Syria and for the plight of the
refugees. The poem takes Aylan, the child, whose body was found on the shores of Europe,
as the central figure to create the pathos. The poem says that the sea that took Aylan’s life has
more compassion than the Arabic world. This is in the category of the Rasa – Satire. This
poem is very moving and has pathos as the chief emotion.


Even fire, at times, provides shade,

Why do they refuse to offer assistance, these Arabs?

Empty pride, arrogance is in their bodies,

It has turned little babies into prey for eagles, crows and the black biting ant.

The Noble one who said, “offer at least a little space in your house

to the one who comes seeking refuge, in a state of destitution,”

He too is an Arab.

To those Arabs, who entertain themselves with the sight of

Atrocities and gross injustice taking place just by one’s side,

Wisdom is scarce, they have no love,

And no kindness in their hearts.

But the rest of the world is in tears (was melting is the literal translation).

If Hell is our abode on earth,

If Hell is our mother,

Hell is our relations,

Why do we need a heaven on earth?

Despite all the comforts and despite

All the beauty, beautiful women,

Circling us beauteously, in this paradise,

Life in our mother land is the most comforting thought.

It is the most comforting repose.

If Arab(ia) is our land,

and Arab is our mother,

Arabs our people,

Then why are the dead bodies of Arabs seeking refuge in Europe?

What crime did Aylan commit,

Of school going age, of the age to jump and prance,

Of a goodly size and sight, this little boy, Aylan,

What crime did he commit?

Why should he give up his life,

Because Assad and IS are in a wrestling match?

It was wrong in the past; It is wrong today, or any other time.

Do not think and do not accept that,

In this world

Wars between nations are inevitable,

That wars are imperative, that the

the orphan’s life is not precious, and his death necessary.

Do not accept this.

United Nations did see the injustice,

But only gave a warning.

This is a slur on its character.

Where is your self-respect?

The father and the mother

were deeply concerned.

But what is the use of that?

The Arab (world) was not concerned.

But the deep and mighty sea was concerned,

It took him into its fold, and in an embrace

delivered him on the shores of Europe

Far away from that which is Arab(ic).

The sea mother knew well,

T hat his body will have no rest in the Arab world.

So, it took his body far from the Arab (world)

And gave him a heaven in a country, where,

there is not a sign of the presence of an Arab.

20. Mother (Annai, p. 123)

Summary: Paying tribute to the mother and motherhood. In the rasa Kindness.


She bore me for

twice five moons,

holding fast to her diet of nurture.

She prayed, with the whole world in praise,

she brought me into this world.

In truth and with regularity

I tell all

The sky and the heavens - I will buy at any price,

for mother.

The endless and deepest sea cries ceaselessly

for the seabed that is its mother, it cannot see.



Selected poems in the collection of poems

Navarasam by Mannaramuthu Ahnaf

Translated by Somasuntharampillai Pathmanathan

God (p. 19)*
The columnless great sky

The matchless God’s word

The beautiful human faces

Are all God’s grace!

Nectar in the flower

Drop in the rain

The tender evening breeze

are all Allah’s wonders

The waxing moon in the sky

The cool river in the green field

And the earth’s notion in the cosmos

-All according to God’s law

The birth of the infant in the womb

Man’s confinement to the grave

All what Man sees with his eyes

governed by the stars – per God’s will

*Page numbers referred to in brackets are to the original printed book.

Let’s pray (p. 20)
A deluge of rain may fall

Can gather beautiful flowers

Bees may buzz around

But only God can be haughty

Midnight may be torn by lightning

Birds may be on the wing

Spotted deer may walk on the earth

All these, God’s bounteous gift

Good fruit may ripen

Good snow may be slippery

The wretched body may rot

All these, the result of God’s will

Enveloped in darkness on all sides

Left in a room to wail

Let’s pray to God, the gracious

The Hereafter (pp. 21-23)
Give a flower

Deck your ear with a flower

Hold a dame

Impregnate her

Tear a cloth

Fulfill your need

Beget a baby

Endure disease

Sever the child’s mother

Deny mercy

Look for another woman

Satiate your lust

Thus you roam lifelong

Treachery, wrangle, women, drink

Listen to base music

Drunk, sing with the dame

Foster theft and dissension

Always yearn for good food

Having eaten rollick, sleep

and dream

The moon up in the sky

Invite the moon,

Entreat her, court her

Honeymoon, flowery moon

Once satisfied leave her

Whoever challenges you

Stab him with a knife

Push him, scorch him

Pull the trigger

If questioned, say

“It’s mine, my jewel

I’ll sell it or eat it

Hold your tongue!”

Friend, remember this

All these are transient

Even you’re are mortal

You’ve have no hold on God’s Will

Remember all these games and frolic

last till your teeth loosen

till silvery streaks give way

to your dark black hair

till your chubby cheeks turn hollow.

Two hands but one body

Two eyes with painted lashes

Money in your purse

Soft, woven cloth to wear

God–given life to live

A woman to bear off-spring

Your will to bring them up

A flock to rear

and to benefit from learning

If you walk on the path

permitted by God

your ego will be subdued

This is a type of prison

If you dwell therein

Your sins will be rinsed

Such joys manifold

are there in the next world

There are two worlds

One is fake

The other bestows grace

Give up this

which makes you forget

the next world!

God’s will (pp. 24-25)
Fruition of mango

The lush leaves of the bodhi

The labour of the oxen

The luxuriant grove

-All God’s will!

The fly flies

The fire flickers

The undesirables forgotten

All God’s will

The dethroning of the ruler

The woman flowers

The fruiting of flowers

The tongue tastes

All God’s will

It gave fruit yesterday

It gives fruit today

Will it give fruit tomorrow?

or will it wither today?

All is God’s will

Price of milk powder soars

Forlorn are children’s souls

All wasted!

The creator will make way

How many built mansions

And paraded with retinue

aides and escort?

For all of them thousands gathered

and dug a grave seven by four

Whether you wear

expensive silk sarees

or receive a guard of honour

with band music

when the destined day dawns

your body on the bier

will reach the grave!

Whether you shed a sea of tears

Whether you’re turned to the grave

you never sprout again

Where’s the great poet Bharathi?

Where’s the great Castro?

Where’s Abdul Kalam

the gem among scientists?

Such was the fate of great men

You were here yesterday

Where have you gone so soon?

February 14 (pp. 37-38)

You gather in nooks and corners

You touch and jostle

No harm you say

“He’s a lion” – she dotes

“She’s gold!” he adores

Unmindful of hunger

You spend midnight hours

Chatting merrily

Inhaling the odour of sweat

whispering sweet nothings

on the phone!

In Art galleries

On balconies

Masquerading as decent people

In parks and groves

Under cover of trees

Hiding from prying eyes

of mothers and others

What did you get?

from stolen kisses?

And how come that in ten months

you’re with child?

Women fall in love

Men cross the limits

God gave you the gift

and the family honour blown to bits

Long live love!

Women beware!

Don’t be trapped in hasty encounters

and ruin yourselves!

Lover – Husband (p. 39)

Lover : Her skin is wax-like

Husband : Decaying skin – she’s eagle

Lover : When she speaks, it’s music

Husband : Her voice is poisonous

Love : Heart cuckoo like, eyes blossom!

Husband : Heart dries; sleepy eyes scorch!

Love : Long to unite

Husband : Wish to run away

Love : Marveled at her black hair

Husband : Scared of buffalo’s tail

Love : I’ll look at her face for Peace

Husband : At the sight of her face, I vomit

Lover : I squander money

Husband : I stare at her

Love : She is the light of my life

Husband : She is the abyss of my life

Love : She’s an angel never seen before

Husband : She’s a shrew never seen before

Love : If I get her, I’m Lion

Husband : Because I got her, I’m a donkey.

Food (p. 40)
When food is ready

What a fuss,

What a waste!

If the tongue touches

A chip of arecanut

Or a wedge is stuck

In the furniture

Gray hair in the comb

They’ll come to have meals

Won’t spurn the company

of a corpse

But will come with the hope

of having a meal!

The obedient (pp. 55-56)

Wherever I pointed a finger

and asked for something

You would buy it for me

saying “Whatever you want I’ll buy

You can keep and play!”

You would be sweet

You would embrace me saying

“My darling son!”

Unending love

that never dries up

innocent at heart

pure as jasmine

Dear mother you suckled me

You fed me

Every day you showed me

novel interesting things

As you fed me

you showed me the moon

and lifted me heavenward

Whenever I cried you cried

Whenever I laughed you joined me

Whenever I was tense so you were

You reflected me

Darling mother

How can I repay you

for all what you did?

To my father who rocked the cradle

To my mother who fed me

keeping me on her lap

I will be enslaved

all my life!

Recompense (pp. 57-58)

Though the learned, the artistes,

friends, kith and kin

come to my aid

and build mansions for me

Can they match my parents

who always wish me long life

from the bottom of their hearts?

A painted house

with tiled roof

designed as we desire

what joy can it give

if you parents aren’t there?

Even if you tour

countries around the world

and choose one

to settle down there

What comfort can it give

if your parents don’t dwell there?

Solitary darkness (p. 61)

I am between

The tall coconut –tree

and the neighboring punnai

Eyes dazzled

I gaze at the sky

The sound of rain drops

The peal of thunder

The breeze fondling my moustache

I love to eat pittu with fried fish

Wheezing darkness

God’s grace

possessing solitude

feel like sipping rasam

As lightning cleaves darkness

heart beats faster

Pooh, You! (pp. 81-83)
Beauty, nectar

Honey, doe

Stream, destiny

Thus unceasing

Sleepless I adored you

Neither discerning dress nor odour

River or desert

bier or pest

awake or dreaming

truth or falsehood

I was in love

Park and fragrance

heavenly bliss

News and fiction

“Our marriage is in the offing!”

you said

Pressing finger tips non stop

I sent you SMS

and you responded

That was a joyous world!

“You’re my life

I am just the body

I am the crop

You’re grazing

If not for you I’ll die!”

So you uttered words

coated with nectar!

Stealing from the family

I became the watch dog!

Will the cock’s crow wake us up?

or the clock’s tik –tik usher in the dawn?

I kept sending SMS

Time fled past

Whenever you were not with me

time crawled

Your thought was sweet like candy

One day I sent a message

“What news? What’s happening?

Respond immediately!”

You were silent

I was on pins!

Then you said

“I came here to learn!”

I was ablaze!

I became a feather

I started dying

I forgot you

Then I gathered my wits

I was about to drown myself in deep sorrow

to be ensnared in defeat

when I saw at a distance hope- life?

It dawned on me

I don’t need you

to attain Knowledge

I don’t need you

to stand in the street

I don’t need you

to sell my honour!

You’re always an irritant

Trusting woman is folly

Trusting myself is strength

Enough being beaten

Wait and see, I’ll rise again!

You were once sugar

You treated me like fodder

To me you will always be fire

Get lost!

The life of Lions (pp. 84-86)
The horse flies in the world

The earth rotates fast

Through cohabitation

a new life is born

Although progeny is thus spread

there are people

ignorant of propagating their species

Unable to beget children

some grow old renouncing kith and kin

and become ascetics

If you know not to live or to rule

you could take poison

but can you lose honour

seeing your wife

living with a neighbor?

Is it worth living

exacting dowry from the woman

Who agrees to live as your wife

If you cannot beget a child

Life and worldly livelihood are meaningless

The poet Avvai denounced

“The one who has nothing

is despised by his wife

even by the mother who begot him

His word has no validity”

Nothing to match

Avvai’s simile!

You know to beget children

You know how to make money

But you don’t know to uphold good conduct!

You vomit children all over the world

but you don’t know how to bring them up!

Woe to the world!

A fragrant marriage

is marriage of two hearts!

Having contracted it

why on earth are you at home

and she abroad?

Why marry at all if you can’t earn your living?

In speech you’re a lion

But your life is zero!

Where’s your conscience?

A woman consecrated to you?

you lend her for an income

and wander like a wolf counting money!

Mean dog that you are what life for you?

You starve

your wife carries your seed

She begets a boy in ten months

You sell it ten seconds

What life for you?

You bicker with your in-laws

You wrangle over purchases

You cannot get on with people

What life for you?

There should be dowry

There should be land

Must earn capital

Must live as a family

Should beget children

Should sleep peacefully

Should join in Union

Live in harmony with kin

Confer with them

Thus in a new world

You should taste

they milk of happiness.

Cruel dharma (pp. 87-88)

“The one who owns nothing

is despised by his wife

even by his mother

His words are not heeded”

So said Avvai

The world praises not

the women who has no husband

It has no good word for her

It will denounce her

It will stone her

It will club her

It will strike her

She offers her body

She becomes a bin crows seek

she bares her breast

Mouth reddened chewing betel

Cuckoo – like she calls men

for her sustenance

She roams the road inviting men

The liaison results

in conception – a baby

Her body needs rest

Her baby needs the milk

that flows from her

That done

She has to hawk her body

Poverty drives her

to bare her breast in bed

To satisfy her hunger

she endures a living death

earning a few rupees

for the child’s milk

No heavenly comforts

No worthy family life

No renunciation

Abandoning exacting dharma

Casting away all merits

She is down- and – out

Virgin theft (p. 89)

Pollen falls

Buds open

Bees come knocking

Flower drops rector

Daily at dawn

It feeds on the flower

It touches it, provokes it

The second month of the year

The bee plants its pollen

on the flower

Grief stricken, the flower dies

The bee leaves slowly

The female heart (p. 90)
Moon faced beauty

Forehead crescent like

tresses forest like

Sole of her feet

soft as cotton wool

You were created

to theses specifications!

Yet how come

your heart is steel like

or yam that won’t boil?

What was sown yielded (pp. 94-95)
“What has happened to the monsoon?

It rains untimely

People are confused

The sun penetrates the head

boils the brain

It chooses a fibre from hell fire, scorching us

We long for rain

Not a drop!

Gone is the time when monsoon meant floods

Nowadays monsoon means dry scalp

and fainting people!

Summer no longer means unbearable heat

It now means pouring rain!

Seasons have changed

Jugglery by humans

are now the order of the day!

Through the gaping mouth of the atmosphere

fall poisonous gases!

Man caused all this

The Holy book of Jeefril says so

But nobody pays heed

We are deaf

How then could there be just solutions?

Don’t curse! (pp. 96-97)
Meddling with the I-phone

you transform reality into falsity!

You messed up the exam

Don’t curse the teacher

If you wrap your body

with unwoven cloth

Won’t it slip down?

Should you curse the unfinished cloth?

Eye-lashes painted black

Lips painted red

You’re captivated

by the milk-skinned doll

once acquainted with her you find that

when the paints are washed down she’s false!

Why curse her?

It was you who was blind to the real

It was you who courted the false

Incapable you are

Why curse the real?

Everything is our handiwork

Sins are what we commit

False deeds infect us

True deeds ennoble us!

Disaster (pp. 100)

The sea rises

and floods the town

God, save people perish!

Save them from becoming corpses!

When the cyclone hits

When huge trees catch fire

You will understand

the meaning of disaster

You board the catamaran

venture out to the sea

A strong wind hits

and your catamaran capsizes

you’ll then know what disaster means

Heavy rains cause floods

which enter houses

and we seek shelter

When the sun is too hot

the forest catches fire

The land dries up

We flee from disaster!

Let’s celebrate (pp. 106-107)

O, Ramzhan month

we welcomed you

as a golden chariot

as the monsoon cloud

as our treasure trove!

Now you’re leaving us

like dissolving water!

Our Imān was unrefined

You chiseled it

Hereafter everything will be blasted

God, let your grace save us!

Three times during the first ten

Sometimes during the second ten

Once during the last ten

We wept and prayed

And the redemption we sought

All is being washed away

by the wild river

We roam the streets

looking for coloruful cloths

to dress ourselves up

We look at six hundred

and chose two hundred

Isn’t monstrous when near by

Jahan Noor is starving

Arumugam usually goes this way

Have we ever invited them to our house?

If relief is given at the mosque

we squabble

we apply

Where is the history of

Nabi’s comrades heading for?

If this is how we have to celebrate

We don’t want such celebrations

Those who give are not losers

Those who receive are not content

Those who prevent the givers

will never prosper!

There’s no future for those

who ruin others!

Let’s give

Let’s celebrate

Let’s dress well

Let’s give to the poor!

Ego (p. 110)

As the river mingles with the sea

the body thinks it’s a lion

While you’re on the boat

if the sea surges up

your ego ebbs!

As a beautiful poem is born

the poet’s mind turns haughty

imprints ego in his heart

Stop the dead man and talk

all your ego will subside!

History will not stumble

in the seven - fold world

If anyone claims he won’t fall

let him learn the history of the fallen!

His ego will be deflated!

Learn the Scriptures

What’s the difference

between the humble

and the loud – mouthed?

Your ego will ebb away!

Teachers’ day (pp. 111-115)
Invade all Evil

Demolish Evil

Be benevolent to the guileless

Give cloths to the naked

Pay heed to my call

God, bestow your grace

so that I can compose poetry

in flowery Tamil

The colour of the great Nabi is pink

So is the hue of husked paddy

So is the will that blossoms from my Poetry

The first line is for my teachers

whom I salute three times

and salutations to my followers

Finally to this great assembly

who will hear this poem

Aslāmu Alaikkum

Address the heaven

Wrap yourself with heaven!

Set your eyes on Earth

Wear gold jewels!

Raise your voice musical

Blessed is this day which is gem–studded

Let’s honour our teachers!

We forger our teachers whose mind is preoccupied

with what to teach tomorrow

We forget our teachers

who teach us by the wayside

When he advises us:

“Children learn well!

Live well,

Yours is tomorrow’s world!”

We murmur: “Phew

What has he achieved?

Has he reached Mt.Everest

or the depths of Mariana?

He philosophizes :

“You’re caskets of gold”

But he has no roof over his head

He journeys by bus!

When he says

“Cut your hair short”

“He belongs to the stone age!”

we murmur

“Your conduct will elevate you

Guard it as your life!”

My friends grumble :

“To hell with Valluvar!”

Don’t you know

the words of our elders

like the fruit of nelli

tastes sour at first

but sweet later

Only those who are ignorant

of the direction of Knowledge

and the greatness of teachers

engage in foolish talk

Think of the scholars of yore

the methods they employed

to acquire knowledge

close your eyes and reflect

our hearts will bleed

Hold your guru’s umbrella

wash his footsteps

squat on the floor in front of him

and learn

That was the golden age of Knowledge

But in modern times

the teacher goes looking for his student

holds his hand seats him on a chair

and teach!

This is student centered education

What good can this bring?

The guru is scared of his pupil!

Is this desirable?

The sculptor finds a crude rock

chisels it and fashions it into a statue

The viewer forgets the sculptor

and loses himself in the beauty of the artefact

The pearl fisher

sinks to the ocean bed

and fetches the pearl

The people admire the jewel

but forget the risky labour

that sought it!

Those who climb the ladder

to reach great heights kick it down

Our teachers are forgotten sculptors

Forgotten pearl fishers

kicked ladders!

Our teachers helped us

to hold our chests erect

Let us hold them high

in our esteem!

“Remember those who gave us salt”

says the proverb

Let us cherish our teachers All our life

(Read at Jamia Naliemia on Teachers’ day)

The weeping heart (pp. 119-120)
“My stomach blazes!”

I would say

“Thambi you can’t stand hunger”

-you would echo

and serve me thosai with sambol

Then you would scrape stale rice

from the pot to satiate your hunger

after cooling my churning stomach

You were the one concerned about my hunger

saying “Eat well and go!”

you would stuff my belly

Though you were my mother’s ma

I always had priority

I can no more hear

your endearing call, Kanna!

But I am sure

in my house at the spring of heaven

you will say “You can’t stand hunger”

and feed me milk, fruit and honey

My heart weeps

and I offer you this poem of tears!

(Dedicated to my grandmother)

Simmering experience (pp. 121-122)
Though it’s dull evening

the sun continues to spit fire

I am trapped in its alluring beauty

I struggle and stammer as I chose the words

for this poem

The dog licks the faded skull

of an ox to satisfy its hunger

The breeze carries the stench of dead fish

Do I complain?

Mannar is always cloudy

Even by accident

Heavy rain won’t descend!

In blazing summer the sky won’t darken

And in the lagoon

masari and nethali perish

God, have mercy

give us wealth

and a cool climate to survive

this cage of fire!

Farewell (p. 124)
Guru, you brought us up

You praised us

Your words lulled us

You bathed us in the

Springs of Knowledge

Praising you and welcoming you

is the debt we repay

You were the candle

that shed the light of knowledge

dissolving yourself

Like a sculptor you chiseled children

lifted them in your arms

and lit the light of knowledge

we are only repaying it!

In the afternoons and evenings

our teachers worked untiringly

Brothers, rally round to bid them farewell

What’s the wound?

What’s the cover?

What’s life? What’s history?

Our teacher ordered rational knowledge

and presented it to us

Let’s sing his praise sky–high!

Lunch (p. 125)

Fish form the high seas

good tamarind sauce

and bandakka in lime

with country rice

The waggling duck

Heading for the water

the hen digging the earth

raising a cloud of dust

The home garden

fortified with fertilizer

rich in pomegranate

guava and banana

O Lord, you have bestowed all this

on us to be relished!


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