Translated from the Marathi by Sakshi Nadkarni
The veil on my head slips to my shoulders,
Thus, I shall go to the bustling bazaar,
Holding a cymbal in my hand,
a veena slouched upon my shoulder,
Who dares to stop me?
I’ve spread out my wares in the market of Pandharpur—
Now pour oil upon my wrists.
Jani says, I have become a slut,
Setting out for your home, Keshava.
Janabai (1258-1350) was a Marathi religious poet, born in Gangakhed, Maharashtra. Though she never had any formal schooling, she composed around 300 high-quality religious verses of the abhanga form. Sant Janabai has a revered place in the minds of Marathi-speaking Hindus who belong especially to the warkari sect.
Sakshi Nadkarni is an English graduate from St Xavier’s college in Bombay, and defines herself as a reader, primarily, a writer and translator, peripherally and a seeker, eternally. She is invested in the celebration of South Asian voices and likes to work at the intersection of ecocriticism, indigenous and postcolonial studies with a keen interest in vernacular and translated literatures, gender studies, and alternative subaltern histories. Her work has appeared on the Indigenous blog, Monograph Magazine, Contemporary Literary Review India, and Life OK magazine.