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Thatha Kuzhandhai

KTM Iqbal

KTM Iqbal’s poetry was translated from Tamil as part of the 2015 Translators Lab organised by the Select Centre and Writers’ Centre Norwich. Iqbal’s poetry looks and sounds very simple, partly because he uses very few words. But there is, usually, more than a surface meaning. Iqbal’s poetry doesn’t rhyme, but he uses other techniques to ‘shape’ his poems, such as repetition or ‘echoing’, balance, and above all, vivid and linked images: they are often his way of giving a concrete shape to an abstract idea. These are two English versions of the poem ‘Thatha Kuzhandhai’, followed by a creative response to the poem.

Grandfather Toddler

Things more beautiful
I can find everywhere.
But can I find anywhere
The love you alone provide?

You are the gold coin
That dropped into the alms’ bowl
in my two outstretched hands.

Today I wobble
Tomorrow soon to a slow crawl.
You crawl today
Tomorrow you will saunter.

For you a baby walker
For me a staff.

When I consider our
miraculous differences
I want to laugh.
Just like you
toothless mouth
wide open.

Translated by Sulosana Karthigasu

Grandfather and Child

Your beauty is everywhere
but where is your love?

Into my two outstretched
alms bowls you fell,
like gold coins.

Today I amble,
tomorrow I will crawl.
But you crawl today
and tomorrow you will walk.

For you a pushcart.
For me crutches.

When I think of the marvel
of the differences between
us two,
it dawns on me to laugh –
like you –
toothless and open mouthed.

Translated by Shash Trevett

Grandma and Toddler

The six year old demands
Foreign fantasy, but the toddler
Is a realist; disdaining Duck
And Mouse, toy and tale,
She prefers to play
With my kitchen vessels
And fitting larger within
The smaller, threatens
To achieve the

Child’s play. Soon hunger
And sleep will end it. I will
Gather up the vessels
And re-collect
My three lost years
Of childhood
Floating through
The margin,
Patting her gently
On my lap.

By Sharada Bhanu

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