Here is a small poem by Nana Patkar (yes the well-known film/stage actor) that I had come across long back, in one of his interviews. I don’t even remember where on when, just that I had copied it down because I had liked its simplicity and depth. Today I picked up that diary after a long time and felt like translating it. With due apologies to Nana …

The poem’s name, if it had one, was never mentioned in the interview, so I’ve christened it saavali. Read the note below if you don’t know Marathi.


tired to the bones
he slept peacefully
by the roadside;
a rock for a pillow

later sometime
he got up suddenly
the stone
was hurting

you were such a comfort
for a while,

he said to the rock,
why are you hurting
me now?

i was always a rock
it replied
for a while
you had turned

The Original:

saavali by nana patekar

Note: Saavali in Marathi means shadow/shade — although in the poem it is used additionally as “comfort” the first time around (which is not a very standard usage, to say the least — as far as I know, that is), and the poem has played with this double meaning very effectively. Obviously I couldn’t do that in English. As a result, the end lacks the punch of the original, and some of it is my limitation; can’t always blame the medium.


5 thoughts on “saavali

  1. atrakasya says:

    lovely poem – it is interesting that its from nana patekar – a chap who has mastered the art of transforming himself – whether it is a stone or a cool shade.
    I hadn’t caught the pun on visavala and savali, till you pointed it out – neat 🙂

  2. Captain Nemo says:

    When I read the original, I could somehow relate to it better as I tried an impromptu translation of the poem in Kannada and could make out what the poem is attempting to communicate. The rock itself being comforted by the shade the man was casting on it while using it as a pillow. I dont know where I’d read this before or when but the idea is reprised somewhere else I think [ a strong sense of deja vu ] but for the life of me cannot recall…
    An excellent translation nevertheless, and I agree with you that the core idea is diluted because of a lack of similar idiom in English…

  3. asuph says:

    m/w, atra: thanks 🙂
    cn: there are layers of meaning in this, like any good poem. btw, now i’m not even sure if that was original nana patekar poem, but i do remember having read him mention that he wrote down those lines. maybe mumbai riots time…


  4. Varsha says:

    This poem defines life…….in few lines. Reality is the same always, its our perception….the way we see it that appears true to us….which is not. Excellent.

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