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Friday, April 2, 2010

Nanna, Nadi (Daddy, River)

Original in Telugu:

Satyam Sankaramanchi

Translator: GRK Murty

Seethayyas nanna1 passed away.

     It is not that Seethayya is a kid. Yet, Seethayya, though in his thirties and having fathered four children, is overwhelmed by sorrow with the passing away of his nanna. Like a kid, he cried terribly in fits. The minute it dawned that his father is no more with him to share his agonies and ecstasies, he felt alone in the worldfelt a void in his heart, an emptiness in life.  

Nanna is no more. Nanna, who was there yesterday, is not there today. Nannawho, bathing at dawn, wrapping himself in a neatly washed dhoti, used to sit everyday in the verandah leaning against the pillar and meditate on godis no more. There is no nanna for him to say, I shall return soon from the market, while going out. Today, the pillar in the verandah is standing alone, all in sadness.   

Nanna, of what time? 

Nannawho, during childhood, when Seethayya was three years old, lying flat on the floor, keeping him standing on his bosom by holding his tiny hands, making him recite,   Tharangam, tharangam, thandavakrishna tharangam2, while he was merrily pounding him on his bosom with his feet, and rejoicing at it, encouraged him to stamp on his bosom again and again, hugging him fondly and kissing him longinglyis no more. Nanna, who, as Seethayya had grown a little farther, took him to the Krishna river and placing him on its bank bathed him, scrubbing all over his body, is no more. Nanna, who, when he insisted on swimming, put him in the water and as he splashed his hands in water held his belt in the hand, and taught him swimming, is not there today. As his nanna then swam across the river holding a wooden plank, he, lying on the plank, used to go to the middle of the river. It was his nanna who taught him how to navigate through whirlpools, how to stroke in strong currents, how to avoid gushing water, and how to swim with his hands while lying on his back in the Krishna. 

Nanna got new knickers and shirt stitched for him, distributed sweets to fellow students, at the time of his admission to school, and then handed him over to the teacher. By noon worrying, Kid has not come home yet, nanna, without even having his lunch, would come forward to meet him and fearing his feet might burn in sun, lifting him on to his shoulders, used to get him back home. In the nights, placing him along his side in the bed, nanna, making him tell everything that had been taught in the school, making him recite the poems again, used to put him to sleep by patting. As he grew up, nanna showing him their fields, taught him ploughing, transplanting crops; and thereafter handing over the farming to him, went around the village telling everyone proudly, Nothing to worry, my son can take care of everything. Despite nanna passing on the lordship over everything to him, Seethayya was still a kid before him. Every trivial event he used to tell his nanna—“Today, we shall put labor for weeding in the farm nanna! Isnt there too much of chilly in the coconut chutney, today, nanna? Saying, Dhobi is of late applying more indigo to clothes, and setting right nannas dhoti, massaging his feet, pulling his fingers gently and fondly massaging all over his nannas body, Seethayya, like a child used to clasp nanna. Nanna listened to his every word. Hummed smilingly. As nanna thus hummed, he felt as though he was hugged close to his bosom and blessed by him

Who would now hum? 

Who would now caress his head? 

Someone from the relatives is saying, Why, he had everything, he is the blessed one! Brought a Lakshmidevi-like3 daughter-in-law into his family. Seen three grandsons. Caressed a granddaughter. Handing over the lordship of the house to his Sri Ramudu-like4 son, passed away worriless. Maharaju!

These words could not console Seethayya. He has become fatherless, he wants his nanna! In the backyard, crying inconsolably, Seethayyas mother faints. Regaining her consciousness, she walks to the Tulasamma5 and swoons on Tulasammas pot saying, Amma6! painting you yellow everyday with turmeric paste and pasting saffron over it, I prayed to you! You snatched away my pasupu, kumkum7 amma! Wasnt there a bottu8 on my face ever since I was born? Can I see my face that has now become, sans bottu, an epitome of sadness in the mirror? How then can I show it to others?
Seethayya stares naively. He searches for his father all around the house. Someone else is comforting his four children. With the passing away of Nanna, he feels at once aged and old. Someone among the relatives hurries everyone uttering, Lucky are those who passed away. Come on! Get up! A lot is on hand to do. After performing nannas funeral rites, Seethayya comes to the Krishna for a bath. Its the same Krishna! The Krishna in which his father bathed him! The Krishna in which his nanna made him swim, made him somersault. Saying, drinking your water all through his life nanna passed away, I am also living by drinking your water, I need nanna, Seethayya cries. Seethayyas body is the Krishna. Seethayyas breath is the Krishna. Seethayyas blood is the Krishna. Seethayyas life is the Krishna. Seethayyas tears are the Krishna, Krishna is mingling in the Krishna. Krishna is asking the Krishna for nanna.

The Krishna is flowing fully. Listening to Seethayyas words, it is flowing gently. Consolingly moving forward. Flowing away as a sigh. Flowing caressingly. Flowing away speedily as though time will not stop.

The great stream, stretching and stretching, is flowing away.

Humming, Na Na the stream is rushing away fast.

Seethayya is saying, Nanna! Nanna!

Listening to him, Krishna is rushing away saying, Na Na …”

Saying, Na Na …” fresh water is flowing in. 

Whispering, Na Na it is moving away.

Again fresh water, Na Na …” Again and again fresh water, Na Na …”

The incoming and outgoing water is saying something to Seethayya.

Heard, Nanna! Nanna. Thats not Seethayyas call. Nor is it his tone. Whose tone? Whose call is it? 

Seethayya listens attentively. It is the call of his sons. 

Whispering, Na Na, the water that flows down before him says to Seethayya: Poor father, passed away. Natural! Youre pining for the nanna, who is no more. Remember, you are the nanna of your sons.

Na Na …” the Krishna gushes in and gushes out.


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