This poem was written in Tamil by Saba Muthunatarajan. It was translated into English by N Gunalan.




அம்மா ஒரு குப்பைத்தொட்டி
குப்பைகளைக் கொட்டும் தொட்டி!
வேண்டாதவற்றை வீசலாம்
எச்சில்பண்டத்தை எறியலாம்

அழுகியவற்றைப் போடலாம்
கழிவுகளைக் கொட்டலாம்
குப்பைத்தொட்டி வாங்கிக்கொள்ளும்!
பின் நாற்றமெனத் திட்டலாம்
வீச்சமென மூக்கைப் பிடிக்கலாம்
எக்குத்தப்பாய் ஏசலாம்
குமட்டுவதாய் முகஞ்சுளிக்கலாம்
குப்பைத்தொட்டி தாங்கிக்கொள்ளும்!
ஈக்கள் மொய்க்கும்
பூச்சிகளும் இன்னபிற பறவைகளும்
தத்தம் பங்குக்கு அசிங்கம் செய்யும்
எறும்புகள் ஊறும்
நாய்கள் நக்கிச் செல்லும்
சில வேளைகளில்
பசியில் கடித்தும் குதறும்
குப்பைத்தொட்டி பேசியதேயில்லை!

Trash Bin


Mum's a trash bin
A vessel to dump rubbish
We can throw unwanted things
We can throw leftovers
We can throw rotting food
We can throw waste
It will take in everything
We can scold that it stinks
Hold our noses to the bad breath
Speak irreverently
Twitch our face to the nauseating smell
The trash bin will endure
Flies will dart about
Insects and some birds will,
For their part, make a mess
Ants will crawl
Dogs will lick and leave
In their hunger, they might bite off parts
But never once
Does the trash bin talk back


This poem was featured in the anthology Living In Babel, published by Canopy.

Saba Muthunatarajan is the Executive Editor of Tamil News and Current Affairs at Mediacorp, Singapore’s leading media broadcaster. Initially an engineer, Saba switched over to the media industry 17 years ago upon realizing that his true passion lay in Tamil. He began work on his first poetry anthology after his mother passed away in 2012. The anthology was entitled Ammaavukkaaga (For My Mother), and was released on Mother’s Day 2014. His second poetry anthology is entitled Ahathin Muham (Face of the Soul). Saba is a member of the Tamil Advisory Panel of both the Singapore National Library Board, and the Singapore University of Social Sciences, and the National Translation Committee’s Resource Panel, under the Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information.

N Gunalan is Head of Tamil News & Current Affairs at Mediacorp, Singapore's main broadcaster. His journalism expertise spans various platforms, including television, radio, print, and digital. Gunalan has served as an adjunct lecturer at several Singapore tertiary institutions, teaching modules in journalism and public relations. He is also involved in community work as a member of the Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee, which supports activities promoting the use of Tamil language. Gunalan holds a BA from the National University of Singapore and an MSC in International Politics of Asia & Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London).