Translated from the Tamil original “Gnanam” by R. Rukmani
The child in my womb wanted to know,
“Amma, what is an atom?”
“What would I know about atoms?
My love, I know nothing about such things.
Ask me, instead,
about jasmine flowers
or dew drops dancing on the tips of grass,
the hanging nests of weaver birds
or the cuckoo's song.
These things I can tell you about, my love.
My little one started to ask,
"Amma, Jasmine flowe....”
Oh my god!
What deluge is this? What destruction!
Hell fire cracks and splits open the sky.
As though competing with the sun
a huge fireball rolls down
like the demon Kabandan
gobbling up everything in its fold!
The thunderous sound of a million drums
tears into my ear drums.
Somewhere far away,
millions of humans – lucky beings – evaporate.
The enemies of the earth
have churned up a poison
that spreads through the universe.
Corpses, living beings
brains and hearts,
trees, the grass, flowers
baby sparrows, earth worms –
they all die
or live on as dead
It's all over....
'No', they say,
'This is just the beginning'
So our unborn children too…?
Dear God! My child!
and their unborn children…
Shrunk and deformed,
corpses that breathe
contorted, distorted human beings.
We are with child.
The doctors tell us-
'It is all in your hands – the decision.”
For the first time this freedom to decide!
But no, this decision is a forced one.
do forgive us
My love, forgive me
So many of us,
lined up to kill our children,
yet to be born.
It’s my turn now.
The doctor comes close.
My little one lies there in a faint.
It is the shock of the explosion.
Suddenly she awakens and starts to speak,
“Amma, tell me
about the flowers,
the grass, dew-drops,
sparrow- nests, cuckoo's song!”
I say to her,
I know nothing at all about such things.
The only things I know of
are atoms, disease
and the way in which
your life was snuffed out.