Beyond The Beaten Track: Offbeat Poems From Gujarat (Heritage Collection)

A Fool’s Habit (Ramanlal Vasantlal Desai)

One fool likes to worship
as many gods as the stones he sees.
Another is equally foolish
breaks every stone icon he sees.

So much noisy arrogance
the power of knife and dagger enormous.
Fifty-three years passed applying tilak1
and fifty-three multiplied into many hundreds.

A thousand years spent together
all were wasted in mental darkness.
Squat owls facing one another
look everywhere you find scoundrels.

Men of muscle are considered heroes
bearing arrows, guns, and spears;
battle over name and religion
take the lives of so many innocent.

Incite those to murder brothers
to Akha all of them are butchers.

1 Auspicious mark on the forehead.

એક મૂરખને એવી ટેવ (રમણલાલ વસંતલાલ દેસાઈ)

એક મૂરખને એવી ટેવ, પથ્થર એટલા પૂજે દેવ.
બીજો મૂરખ ભેગો થયો, પથ્થર મૂર્તિ તોડી રહ્યો.

છરી કટારીનું બહુ જોર, તોર તુમાખી ભારે શોર.
તિલક કરતાં ત્રેપન વહ્યાં, ત્રેપનમાંથી ત્રણસેં થયાં.

હજાર વર્ષો ભેગાં રહ્યાં, એ સઘળાં અંધારે ગયાં.
સામેસામા બેઠાં ઘૂડ, જ્યાં જોઈએ ત્યાં કૂડેકૂડ.

વીર બન્યા જાણે એ મલ્લ, તીરતમંચા ઝાલી ભલ્લ,
નામ ધરમ, ધિંગાણાં કર્યાં, નિર્દોષોના પ્રાણ જ હર્યા.

શૂર ચઢાવી મારે ભાઈ, અખાને મન બધાં કસાઈ.

Category in Beyond The Beaten Track



Here, too, is Akho, especially in the opening line. But the foibles are contemporary, and the poem bites deep both the image-worshippers (guess who) and icon-smashers (guess who).

About The Author

Ramanlal Vasantlal Desai, M.A. (1892-1954) was born in Shinor and later moved to Vadodara for education. He joined the service of the then princely state of Vadodara, and retired from it in 1948. In the early 1950s he traveled to Austria and then to Soviet Russia. Although he never participated in the freedom struggle, he had affinity for Gandhian ideology. Desai was better known as a novelist, playwright, and short story writer of the Gandhian era than as a poet. In his novels he explored a large number of social issues. He published two volumes of poetry. He also did translations. He was a recipient of the Ranjitram Gold Medal.