A Bard's Family

Purananuru 159

My mother grumbles,

" I've lived too many days and years.
Still my life isn't coming to an end. "

She creeps about, taking little steps,
with a stick for a leg.
Her head of hair a scatter of threads,
eyes dim,
she is too old even to walk to the yard.

And my wife, her body gone sallow, is troubled
by pain and sickness;
breasts fallen,
squeezed and devoured by the many children
all about her;
needy, she picks the greens
in the garbage dump
hardly sprouting
in the very spot she had plucked before,
boils them in water
without any salt,
eats them without any buttermilk.
She has forgotten the look of well-cooked food.
Wearing unwashed tatters,
my wife who loves me
goes hungry,
blames the order of things.

You can make their hearts happy:
I know you are known for giving
like a raincloud

that pours with thunder and lightning
on wide fields
scorched and plowed by hunters
where millet, sown with rice,
is unable to ripen to rich dark grain,
arrested by the heat.

You can make my whole hungry family happy.

Yet, I'll take nothing,
not even a killer elephant with high tusks,
if it is not given happily.
But if you are pleased, and give
to please,
I'll even take a crab's-eye.

So, Kumanan of the sharp spear,
lord born in a clan without a stain,
famed for its victories,
show me your grace
I ask you,
as I sing your praise.
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