The Bane of Widowhood by Bharathidasan

Untended lies here, dear elders,
Ripe at the root, the jack-fruit!
The cool round moon
Is considered to be something terrible.

Alas! unkempt lies the flower garden
Earned for its cool southern breeze !
The garland of fragrant flowers.
Lies rejected.

They tabooed as unworthy of being sought
The supple fruit that savours health,
They proscribed as vile venom the vibrating notes
Given by the graceful veena strings.

They proclaimed as unworthy of being worn
 The crown most fit to don the head ;
They forbade that we should not even touch            
The golden pot of curdled wholesome honey!

Women in whom are perfected
All the categories of joy, their status,
Here, is like this, dear elders,
And none is ashamed of this!

On the death of her husband, on the woman’s head,
They put the onerous burden of widowhood;
And they forbade her, thereafter,
Never to seek for her a companion.

Just as man, on the death of his wife, seeks  
A different spouse, so, too, should women
Seek a different partner, on the death           
Of her husband. So let’s proclaim to the world.

"As soon as the shaft is freed, it seeks
Its target", and so does our love; Tell me
If there exists anywhere else a race
Alive that hasn’t shot its arrows of love.

Empty the space that is void of love
And the earth moves because of love!
Baulking the loving hearts of women
Is like turning life upside down.

Do not stop with vile widowhood
The heart where love wells up
Do not consult the holy scriptures
To join the shoulders of a handsome mate.

Translated by  S. Raman

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