June 2017        

A poem that could make a difference

Gabriel Rosenstock introduces and translates another poem from the Indian sub-continent
“Pandu, the Masseur in Goa” by Abhay K is a previously unpublished poem that every tourist should read. I’d very much like to see it as a poster poem in airports around the world.
     Its raw immediacy strikes home. Its message is unavoidable and unambiguous. I love the irony in the line “this time I’ve voted for the opposition.” As if that’s going to make one damn difference! But this is a poem that could make a difference, that could change our attitude—and the way we all behave when we take a holiday. How many poems today manage to do that? I suppose you could call this type of poetry “exposure poetry.” Well, then, we could do with a lot more of it.

Pandu, the Masseur in GoaPandu, Suathaire i nGoa
My name is Pandu,Pandu is ainm dom,
I am a masseur from Kolhapur,Is suathaire mé as Kolhapur, i stát Maharashtra
in the state of Maharashtrai stát Maharashtra
 
I can do foot massage, head massageIs féidir liom suathaireacht cos a dhéanamh, suathaireacht cinn
I can massage your genitalsd’fhéadfainn do bhaill ghiniúna a imchuimilt duit
I have been massaging since past twenty years,táim i mbun suathaireachta le scór bliain anuas,
 
mostly Americans, English and DanesMeiriceánaigh is mó, Sasanaigh is Danmhargaigh
but now the beach is full of Russiansach bíonn an trá lán de Rúisigh anois
and I don’t know much Russian sadlyníl mórán Rúisise agam faraor
 
My fellow masseur met a Swiss womanbhuail mo chomh-shuathaire le bean as an Eilvéis
they got married and went to Switzerland,phósadar agus chuadar chun na hEilvéise,
now he asks me give him a massage (chuckles)Iarrann sé ormsa anois suathaireacht a thabhairt dó siúd (scig-gháire)
 
I work here only six months in a year—ní oibrímse anseo ach sé mhí in aghaidh na bliana—
October to May, then I go back to KolhapurDeireadh Fómhair go Bealtaine, ar ais liom ansin go Kolhapur
to work in the fields, to grow vegetables and fruitsd’fhonn na goirt a shaothrú, glasraí is torthaí a fhás
 
earlier I used to sell grass, opium and drugsroimhe sin bhínn ag díol raithní, óipiaim is drugaí
not any more, it has become too dangerousní dheinim níos mó é, tá sé ródhainséarach anois
but don’t worry, I still have got some contactsach ná bí buartha, tá roinnt teagmhálacha agam i gcónaí
 
I can get you whatever you want—drugs, womengheobhaidh mé rud ar bith duit is mian leat—drugaí, mná
please let me give you a massage,lig dom suathaireacht a thabhairt duit,
please don’t tell anyone what I am telling youná hinis d’éinne led’ thoil an méid atáim á rá leat
 
the beach shack owner does not pay mení íocann úinéir an bhotháin trá mé
he does not give me food or any drinksní thugann sé bia ná deoch dom
I pay extortion to the police every monthíocaim sracadh leis na póilíní uair sa mhí
 
all I earn is from massages I doníl de theacht isteach agam ach an tsuathaireacht
so please let me massage you,lig dom suathaireacht a thabhairt duit led’ thoil,
this time I’ve voted for the oppositionthugas vóta don bhfreasúra an babhta seo
 
look at my finger tip, the dot of Indian ink,féach ar bharr mo mhéire, ponc de dhúch Indiach,
they will give licences for five yearseisíonn siad ceadúnais ar feadh cúig bliana
to run the beach shackschun na botháin trá a rith
 
Government did nothing much in the past six years,níor dhein an Rialtas mórán le sé bliana anuas,
I am building a home here in Goa, I have taken a loantá tigh á thógaint anseo agam i nGoa, tá iasacht faighte agam
and have to pay a huge sum as interest every monthagus suim mhór a híoc agam mar ús gach mí
 
please let me give you a massage,lig dom suathaireacht a thabhairt duit le do thoil,
my family will die of hunger back in Kolhapurcaillfear an teaghlach den ocras thoir in Kolhapur
be kind, take pity on me, let me give you a massage.bí cineálta, bíodh trua agat dom, lig dom suathaireacht a thabhairt duit.

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