Oru Paattu Pinneyum by Sugathakumari Is A Wake-Up Call

ഒരു പാട്ടു പിന്നെയും പാടി നോക്കുന്നിതാ
ചിറകൊടിഞ്ഞുള്ളോരീ കാട്ടുപക്ഷി
മഴുതിന്ന മാമര കൊമ്പില്‍ തനിച്ചിരുന്നൊ-
ടിയാ ചിറകു ചെറുതിളക്കി
നോവുമെന്നോര്‍ത്തു പതുക്കെ അനങ്ങാതെ
പാവം പണിപ്പെട്ടു പാടിടുന്നു
ഇടരുമീ ഗാനമോന്നേറ്റു പാടാന്‍ കൂടെ
ഇണയില്ല കൂട്ടിനു കിളികളില്ല

As I read through these lines, that have a peculiar lyrical rhythm, I am taken back to my school days when this was taught to me.  The recital of Sugathakumari teacher’s poem ‘ഒരു പാട്ടു പിന്നെയും’ made all the school kalolsavams complete. As I ponder upon a million little things, the grief and sorrow that is entrenched in these lines resonate and shakes the core of my heart. A deranged bird on a deserted tree singing of her sorrow and her pain, how futility embraces her songs, yet she sings and blends with the music slipping away from her painful reality. 

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‘ഒരു പാട്ടു പിന്നെയും’ is not just about the poetic brilliance of the renowned poet; In its revolting imagery, she paints her concern for environmental destruction. Sugathakumari known for her environmental activism and her key role in the Silent Valley protest evokes a sense of collective responsibility to protect our environment. Deforestation paired up with destruction in the name of progress took a toll on the environment and this pattern of recurring destruction is still taking place every year either through unsolicited bills or through urbanisation. 

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Sugathakumari’s poetic skill was in rendering issues of social-political significance by adding a sense of individualism. As one reads through these lines, the pain transfers from the bird to us, giving us a sense of prolonged catharsis. It is in this sense of the pain – as one’s own- that one finds the motivation to raise their voice for the affected. Sugathakumari’s rhetorics inturn adds metaphorical loftiness instead of the loftiness of the language.

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One can’t decide if it’s the abandonment by her children or the non-resonance of her poignant song that hurts the solitary bird.

ഇരുളില്‍ തിളങ്ങുമീ പാട്ടു കേള്‍ക്കാന്‍ കൂടെ
മരമുണ്ട് മഴയുണ്ട് കുളിരുമുണ്ട്
നിഴലുണ്ട് പുഴയുണ്ട് തലയാട്ടുവാന്‍ താഴെ
വഴിമര ചോട്ടിലെ പുല്ലുമുണ്ട്
ആരുമില്ലെങ്കിലെന്തായിരം കൊമ്പത്ത്
താരുകളുണ്ട് താരങ്ങളുണ്ട്
ആപാട്ടിലാഹ്ലാദ തേനുണ്ട് കനിവെഴും
സ്വപ്നങ്ങളുണ്ട് കണ്ണീരുമുണ്ട്

Sugathakumari then takes a philosophical stance, her signature mode of answering the unanswered.  If not the comfort that is provided by the home, by the family, there are trees, the rain and several other ecstasies of nature, she says. What seems like the glare of hope in a superficial reading, is actually an irony that glances at the gradual loss of our natural treasures brought upon ourselves by our own gluttonous actions. When humans betray humans, one turns to nature; the embodiment of spirituality. But what if there is no tree, rain or the chill of the winters to find solace in?

Also Read: AKKITHAM ACHUTHAN: THE MAN WHO SPOKE THROUGH POETRY

Human beings have always turned to nature or to God to answer the unanswered.  This constant need for a deus ex machina gives us an agency to manifest our own insecurities. On this note, Sugathakumari’s poem ‘ഒരു പാട്ടു പിന്നെയും’ takes the tone of a subtle confession. 

As the bird sings of her broken wings, gently giving in to the solace of pain without tempting hopes of the future, our false perspectives dissolve in this air of mourning. The last stanza, therefore, is the reiteration of Sugathakumari’s own statement “enkiluminnum jeevithame njan snehikunnu ninne” (despite this, life I love thee). 

An emotional journey that ends with an epiphany, that is what ‘ഒരു പാട്ടു പിന്നെയും’ stands for me. Not extending a note of condolences for the poet who couldn’t get enough of this life as her words will stay timeless and full of life.

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