Dollhouse by G V Krishna Rao, Translation from Telugu by G R K Murty

Amma, Amma! I shall tell you something!


Go to your father, he is sitting idle.


Nanna won’t listen!


I have lots of work. Tell your nanna.


No, I will tell you only.


I won’t listen… am I the only one idle?


You must listen.


I won’t.


I will cry, then.


Why not, do it before your nanna?


Oh! It might turn into true crying.


Would become the same here too!


Why would you spank me? I haven’t thrown the tumbler in the water tub. Haven’t messed up the water in the vessel. Haven’t touched Nanna’s pen. Nor did I spill the ink. Like a good child, I have been to the school. Why then, you would spank me?


If this pestering goes on unstopped, what else … won’t I …?


Ah! Looks like you would really spank me?


Oh! Sure.


My amma is very kind … she would never spank me. Even if I didn’t behave, she would simply laugh it away... would grant anything that I ask for.


Who is your mother!


At every damn silly thing you yell! Oh! Great, Amma! Am I to take your name! No way … What hope!


Oh! We have a kid too. Never would he misbehave. Ever cheerful and playful. Even if spanked, would never cry at the rooftop…


Oh! What a silly fellow! Won’t nag …. Won’t cry … What then, would he be! If he comes to our school, we would give him peanuts and bits of jaggery to chew, you know!


You think we would send our boy to play with your mischievous lot?


Ha! Honour him with vermillion.


Do the same with your amma!


Oh, no!


Ha! No one else is good … other than you and your amma.


Oh! What a cheat you are!




Said you have no leisure, no respite from work. Who is then talking with me all along?


Still, remember?


Will I forget?


Smart enough! That’s why you remained in class two for two years!


Amma, why that boy’s hair is that grubby!


Boy, who?


Oh, that fellow, Venkanna’s son!


Ha! For you too he became Venkanna!


Did I say anything wrong? Everyone in the school calls him so!


Shouldn’t call him by name, my dear … must say, ‘Venkayya bava’.


Why they all call him so?


Poor folks! They are like us. But recently … went broke … and thus, became one among the commoners, for the whole village.


What do you mean by ‘broke’? Venkayya bava and Punnamma akkayya look alright, aren’t they?


No, the creditors took away everything they had.


Why did Venkayya bava kept quiet? Didn’t their son cry? Had it been me…?


What would you have done?


I would have got them bashed by my father.


His father could not bash them.


Didn’t he complain to Pantulugaru? He would have whipped their backs with his cane.


Oh! They would simply pulp your teacher.


So sorry! By the by, the hair of Venkayya bava’s son looks so dishevelled! Doesn’t his mother comb it?


Poor folks, they don’t have money. So his mother goes out to pound paddy. Who is there to comb his hair?


That’s what I say! Their son roams in harsh sunlight. Look at his face –  it looks like a burnt-out pancake! You thrash me if I go out to play even for a while! Why don’t you spank him?


Would they keep quiet if I spank him?


So, am I the only easy target for you?


He hawks cattle under the hot sun and makes money. What would you get roaming under the hot sun?


Pinching the neighbour kids, I would bring complaints!


That’s it!


That’s ok! But she doesn’t give him anything to eat. Doesn’t send him to play. Nor does she send him to school. Is Punnamma akka not a good woman?


Oh! No, she is good. But when there is no money, where from she would get all those items?


You mean, with no money, nothing can be obtained!


That’s right! You should save every pie that your dad gives you.


Amma…. How money comes?


One has to labour sincerely.


Venkayya bava, Punnamma akka and their son, all of them, are working hard. Why then, they don’t have money?


Yes, they don’t have.


Well then, Nanna is not working! How come, he gets money?


Nanna lends money for interest to others.


Will it not run out if we simply sit and eat without doing any work?


When given on interest it grows.


How does it grow?


I don’t know, ask your nanna.


Suppose there is no money at all?


How would you then get chocolates, food and education?


For food, it is ok if we cook rice. To have rice, we must have paddy. If we till the soil, transplant the seedlings and harvest them after they grow, you get paddy. So, for paddy you need not have money. And if the teacher teaches we get education. Why then money is needed?


But people do have money.


I will say, ‘no need for money; it no longer is exchangeable.’


Would people keep quiet if you say it is no longer negotiable? They will bash you.


I would declare it invalid after I become an adult. Then no one can bash me. Instead, being grown-up, I myself would bash them.


They would complain to your dad, then?


Yes, that’s to be thought over…. Amma, can you do one favour … cajole him … tell him … I am playing after doing my lessons … why strike the boy … surely he will remain quiet if you say that…


It’s alright to say that if your dad is not watching your deeds … but how am I to say when he is seeing everything?


You say so much! You fool me and akkayya … can’t you just close his eyes from behind for a while?


Why do you laugh?


How about your teacher’s cane, then?


I will go to school before anybody comes and break it into two.


Once you eliminate money from the world, everyone has to work?




You too?


Yes, me too … I would give chocolates, coffee, toys – all kinds of toys that swing, dance, run, and jump … to everyone who asks for them.


Then what would happen to ammas and nannas?


I will shove them away. If they are around, they spank kids. They make them cry. Don’t allow them to play, even. So, I won’t let them be around. Forgot to say, I shall throw out the teachers and their bettams too.


If squabbles come up among you?


Why quarrel, when we give everyone chocolates and toys equally. No small toys to some and big toys for some others – all are equal.


Hey! Listen, your school bell is ringing.


Oh, my god!  Might be the second bell, must run fast.


Arey! What’s that?


What! It’s the slate!


Why are you taking the big slate? What about your akkayya!


Oh, no!  Akkayya … I don’t care!


What did you say? Leave the big slate there and take the small one.


What did I say? Didn’t I say all are same?


Oreai, oreai! 



Bommarillu, Dollhouse, was first published in April 1941 in the anthology of short stories Chaitraradham published by the author. The translator read the story in the book G V Krishnarao Rachanalu, Vol VI, pp 120-124, Prabhasa Publications, Tenali, 1999.

Dr G V Krishna Rao (1914-1979) a scholar, poet,literary critic and essayist, belonged to Tenali, Andhra Pradesh. Dr Rao published three long poems: Varudhini, Sivaratri and Yugasandhya. He wrote four novels, a volume of playlets, two plays, a collection of short stories, and a critical survey of the Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna's Vigrahavyavartani, The End of Discussions. He also translated Plato and Kant into Telugu.

His playlet, Bikshapatra, Begging Bowl, was proclaimed a 'National Play' and was translated into sixteen Indian languages and broadcast through All India Radio. His last play, Bomma Yedchindi, The Doll Wept, portrays 'a clash and crash of ideas and ideals' rather than personalities, which 'leaves the audience in a subdued mood of sorrow'.

Keelubommalu, Puppets, his maiden work (1951), has been acclaimed as one of the outstanding novels in Telugu. In yet another novel, Papikondalu, Papi Hills, he advocates that 'natural truth' is better than 'didacticism.'

G R K Murty worked in Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University and later with the Bank of India, and is presently with IUP Publications (A Division of ICFAI). He has authored six books, on economics and related fields. A collection of Telugu short stories translated by him, Selected Stories: Tripuraneni Gopichand is published by CP Brown Academy, 2010.