You can read the original poems in Tamil here.
68th PartingFor Kandasamy and Latha,this is their 68th parting.The first two timesthey had individuallyconsideredattempting suicide.The next eight timesthey said goodbye to each otherwith lots of good wishes.Once, as he was looking on,Latha cut her palm with a blade.Once Kandasamy smashed and brokethe TV set when a song they had usedas their private code came on.Once Latha did not wipea treasured trace of their parting:her glasses wet with tears.Once Kandasamy burnt to ashesthe shirt to which she had gluedherself during their first kiss.Latha (four times) and Kandasamy (once)had also sobbed and wept during their long-distance liaisondrenching and damaging their laptops.Without meeting her at all, Kandasamyonly sent her emails – that was one half.Latha failed to see him whileshe was looking at him –that was another half.They had each parted from the other, suspectingthe other’s fidelity to their mutual love:Latha thrice and Kandasamy thrice.(These include the timeAnushka appeared in his dreams half-naked,a scene that Latha witnessedin its entirety).Because Latha blurted out her suspicionwithout keeping it in her heart,Kandasamy got one chance to part.Because he left her in that fashion,Latha got one chance to start a fight.Even when they were together,Kandasamy had stayed awayfrom her seven times.Latha was not so bad, after all.Because another man had wooed heronce,that woman of exemplary virtue left twice on her own,to punish Kandasamy.They parted in their hearts too –once because Latha wrote poetryand eight times because Kandasamydid not read her poems.One day, to get rid of her nuisance once and for all,Kandasamy stood before god and complained.That very night, dancing possessed,Latha won him back.When their relationship went from grossto subtle, he closed his Yahoo! account(opened especially for her sake) seven times.To compete, Latha deleted him from her listand cut him off six times.A few more partings eludeeven their own memories.“68 is a lucky number for partings” –Kandasamy is trying hard to retainthese words of the astrologer, renowned forpicking lucky gemstones from planetary positions,in his memory. This time, Latha does not look foreven a worm or an insectto be her emissary.69th, 77th and 88thpartings await thempatiently.May death, slatedfor their 90th parting,be not in a hurryto jump the queue. Translated by N Kalyan Raman from the Tamil poem, 68-aavathu pirivu by Perundevi Screensaver I’ve kept a hibiscusas the screensaveron my phone.No matter if it is day or night,the flower is constantly in bloom;that’s nothing special, of course.We can playfullyraise or lowerthe brightness of the bluesky in the background.Why, we can even changethe very colour of the sky.The hibiscus in this screensaverhas a shinier look and feelsmore intimate thanthe old hibiscus, pale red and crawlingwith ants, in the backyard,and its compact skyfits right into my palm. Translated by N Kalyan Raman from the original Tamil poem, Thirai Paadhukaavalan by Perundevi Time this time Though fleeting moments liehidden, always, withineternity, let us notknow eternity as a collectionof moments when wefound the treasure,heard of the accident orfirst tasted the saliva of a kiss.While blessing us with its one handof lifespan, with its other handlifedrags us forwardrudely.After losing us amid festive celebrationsof goodwill, it retrieves us lateras sick or unwanted persons,as refugees in flight fromnations, classes and genders.Innocent flakes of time nod off to sleep every now and then;whenever that happens, just as Gilgamesh who soughtthe boon of immortality lost itin uncontrollable sleep, we lose all.Eternity, though, never blinks.It reckons our every stepas pieces of bread offered dailyat the feet of sleeping Gilgamesh.With some sharp and deadly pointof cruelty, charity, betrayal or love,this tiny speck of time triesto draw us inside ourselves.With eternity, though,we lost the battlethe moment we were born. Translated by N Kalyan Raman from the Tamil poem, Kaalam ikkaalam, by Perundevi