Justice is . . .

(For Indians only. . .)

The first lesson we are taught about life
has something to do with dharma and karma.

“Dharma”. “Karma” two good appetizing
and rhyming words they may come in handy for classic poets.

Dharma they say is indefinable,
it is all encompassing
and yet untranslatable.

Dharma they say means
Justice, Integrity, Veracity,
Righteousness and Legitimacy.
Almost enough meaning for a word.

And you carry it on with yourself.
Dharma makes a versatile lucky-charm.
All your life, you blame things you don’t understand
on the word no one has ever understood.
Sometimes highly frustrated with the cruelty
and apathy of everything, you even resort to blaming karma
and you begin to trace past lives, ancestry
you bother about the enormity of trivialities
you start worrying about the petty lineage of everything
you happen to come across.

this insanity deludes you as you fret and fume over
descent—pedigree—wretched caste—and above all proper
marriages and the legitimate sons
and then it all comes to you

the truth, the truth about all this ****
the truth about Dharma
You remember the man,
the man Dharma,
for—the medium is the message.

You realize he is a bastard,
an illegitimate son.
Justice is Dharma.
Dharma is a bastard.
So you know Justice is. . .

Well, whatever. But still, blotted.
Blemished. And with Scandal for a middle name.
Perhaps all your hopes die and you stop all your expectations.

Or, perhaps you suddenly throw back you head
and laugh and laugh. . .
Whatever you chose to do
the truth hits you
when she whispers

‘Legitimacy is Illegitimate.’

(First published in Muse India)

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2 responses to “Justice is . . .

  1. Pingback: Index of poems « Meena Kandasamy’s Poetry

  2. Kiran Mascarenhas

    Meena, do you mean “chose” or “choose” to do? Is the tense change deliberate?

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