Gems of Telugu poetry – ‘ChaaTuvu’ (7/1)

Gems of Telugu poetry – ‘ChaaTuvu’ (7/1)

pagaraku vennichchinachoe
nagarea ninu magatanaMpu naayaku leMdun?
mugu raaDavaaramaitimi
vagapeaTiki jalakamaaDa vachchina choeTan?

పగరకు వెన్నిచ్చినచో
నగరే నిను మగతనంపు నాయకు లెందున్?
ముగు రాడవారమైతిమి
వగపేటికి జలకమాడ వచ్చిన చోటన్?    (In Telugu font)

if you show your back to the enemy
don’t the heros of manly valour laugh at you?
In all we are three woman here;
why you grouse now at the place of bathing?

Chanamma and Polamma – these two women belonged to 13th Century AD. Chanamma was the wife of a person of great valor named Rana Tikkana, who was also known as Khadga Tikkana. Polamma was his mother. It was Chanamma who told the above ‘ChaaTu’ poem and thus became the first woman poet to tell a ‘ChaaTu’ poem in the history of ‘ChaaTu’ poety in Telugu language, as popularly believed. The story behind this ‘ChaaTu’ poem reads as under:

When a feud was on between the forces of Katamraju (king of Erragaddapadu) and Manumasidhdhi (king of Nellore and on whose behalf Rana Tikkana fought), one day unable to bear the onslaught of Katamraju‘s forces and the havoc it was wreaking on his forces, Rana Tikkana somehow escapes from the battle field and runs back to home.  When he asked his wife, Chanamma, to arrange for a bath, she, coming to know all that happened, was very much displeased with her husband’s behavior and as a way of showing her dissent, arranges the place of bathing keeping there all the things that a woman commonly uses for bathing and in such a way that it looked as if it was a woman who was going to bathe there and not a man. On seeing the arrangement, Rana Tikkana feels deeply hurt at the suggestive humiliation and asks his wife as to why the arrangement was made in such a way that a woman was going to bathe there, when in fact it was he, a male,  who was going to bathe there. It is popularly believed that Chanamma then told this poem in reply to his question, suggesting that with him and they both put together, it was as good as they were all three woman in their house and hence the arrangement was made like that.

This is the first half of the story. The remaining half of it narrates the way Rana Tikkana‘s mother, Polamma, too humiliates him by telling one more ‘ChaaTu‘ poem with a view to criticize him for his unmanly and coward deed and encourage him to go to the battle field and to fight till the end.

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