Adhavan Deetchanya
(India, 1964)   
Adhavan Deetchanya

Adhavan Deetchanya (born 1964) is a Tamil writer of poetry and short fiction. Since his first book, Purathirunthu (1996), he has published three collections of poetry: Poojjiyatthilirunthu Thuvanum Aattam (2003), Thanthugi (2005) and Adhavan Deetchanya Kavithaigal (2011). He is also editor of the magazine Pudhuvisai. Born and raised in Utthamachozhapuram, near Salem, he works currently as a cashier in Hosur in the state of Tamil Nadu.

The poem (translated by K. Srilata and Subashree Krishnaswamy) featured in the ‘City’-themed 15 November 2011 edition of PIW India is a delicate construct that works on more than one level. On the one hand, it is an affectionate portrait of a father, a man who has clearly known hardship and appreciates the value of thrift and economy. This is a familiar figure in any culture of the world, and yet the poem’s skill lies in the subtle way in which it also evokes a specific context. For around this protagonist the backdrop of a world in transition gradually heaves into view. One senses a largely rural or semi-rural landscape in southern India yielding to a familiar brand of urban dream – one of standardised building complexes and housing colonies.

And yet, even if there is an apparent change in ethos – as tamarind seasons and harvests give way to the new urban township – some social realities aren’t levelled out so easily. What makes Ambedkar colony any different from its counterparts? Why does it sell for a pittance, despite its convenient location just a stone’s throw away from the bus stop? The difference is slyly evoked through a litany of names of major political leaders (in which entire political histories and caste backgrounds are encoded): Gandhi, Anna, Kamaraj.

Thus there is no overt statement about Dalit politics in the poem until it reaches the last line of biting irony: “Even land has a caste”.

© Arundhathi Subramaniam


Adhavan Deetchanya Kavithaigal, Sandhya Publications, Chennai, 2011
Thanthugi, Sandhya Publications, Chennai, 2005
Poojjiyatthilirunthu thuvangum Aattam, Sandhya Publications, Chennai, 2003
Puratthirunthu, Tamilnadu Progressive Writers Association, Hosur, 1996


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