Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Jeet Thayil / Malayalam's Ghazal

Editor's note: Jeet Thayil was born in Kerala, India, and educated in Hong Kong, New York and Bombay. His poetry collections include Gemini 2 and, English and Apocalypso. My most remembered and favourite lines of Jeet are below.
"where they (my lips) touched your skin, there would be constellations in your face, and world upon world in your absent body."

Malayalam’s Ghazal
Listen! Someone’s saying a prayer in Malayalam.
He says there’s no word for ‘despair’ in Malayalam.

Sometimes at daybreak you sing a Gujarati garba.
At night you open your hair in Malayalam.

To understand symmetry, understand Kerala.
The longest palindrome is there, in Malayalam.

When you’ve been too long in the rooms of English,
Open your windows to the fresh air of Malayalam.

Visitors are welcome in The School of Lost Tongues.
Someone’s endowed a high chair in Malayalam.

I greet you my ancestors, O scholars and linguists.
My father who recites Baudelaire in Malayalam.

Jeet, such drama with the scraps you know.
Write a couplet, if you dare, in Malayalam.

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