Kerala's Breast-tax

“Breast-tax”: A Poem by K K Remakanth


Blurred memories can smile as well.

Seashells washed ashore with rugged teeth

Retain the tumult of the sea by the remembrance coast

I am alone among the trees

And they speak history.


In those days

A breast wrapped in plantain leaf

Soaked with blood was sufficient

To block the gaze of the caste lord


But to screen my gaze today

An eye wrapped in plantain  is needed

I don’t want to be blind

I just want to see without paying tax.


It is a continuation

White milk gushing forth

From the eye that does not see

Those who sucked on it became

The spectators and undertakers

From the fading eye flowed saline tears

The eye may see

But those having it may not.

Translated from Malayalam by Ajay Sekher

K K Remakanth is a young poet in Malayalam.  His first anthology is titled Nagarathile Mazha (Rain in the City).  He may be reached at:  or   +91 9048531634.

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