Mohandas Karamchand

(written after reading Sylvia Plath’s Daddy)

“Generations to come will scarcely
believe that such a one as this walked
the earth in flesh and blood.”
   —Albert Einstein

Who? Who? Who?
Mahatma. Sorry no.
Truth. Non-violence.
Stop it. Enough taboo.

That trash is long overdue.
You need a thorough review.
Your tax-free salt stimulated our wounds
We gonna sue you, the Congress shoe.

Gone half-cuckoo, you called us names,
You dubbed us pariahs—“Harijans”
goody-goody guys of a bigot god
Ram Ram Hey Ram—boo.

Don’t ever act like a holy saint.
we can see through you, impure you.
Remember, how you dealt with your poor wife.
But, they wrote your books, they made your life.

They stuffed you up, the imposter true.
And sew you up—filled you with virtue
and gave you all that glossy deeds
enough reason we still lick you.

You knew, you bloody well knew,
Caste won’t go, they wouldn’t let it go.
It haunts us now, the way you do
with a spooky stick, a eerie laugh or two.

But they killed you, the naked you,
your blood with mud was gooey goo.
Sadist fool, you killed your body
many times before this too.

Bapu, bapu, you big fraud, we hate you.

(First published in The Little Magazine)


16 responses to “Mohandas Karamchand

  1. I liked it!

    I like Gandhiji too and may not agree with you in toto but I like criticisms/critiques of hallowed icons just the same.

    I love rhymes too and this poem had enough to interest me.

    You are so young; I feel bad because I wanted to a writer but some wrong decisions in life and here I am in my late 20s still without my first book!

    I will visit some other time and read your blog(s) to my heart’s content. By the way, you may read excerpts from my first poem (on Ambedkar) here:

    Vikas Gupta,
    JNU, New Delhi-67

  2. Arul Jerome Kirubakaran

    Nice one. Impressed. In the name of protecting the hinduism, He betrayed thousands of so called Untouchables. To him political freedom was more important then Social freedom. India is not free, The freedom we say we achieved at the stroke of midnight hour on 15-08-1947, hasn’t perculated to the millions even today.

  3. fuckin rude,

    gandhi is the greatest man the world has ever seen

  4. mam dis s sundar. am doing my 3rd yr aeronautical engg at MIT.. and dis s simply great.. superb.. expecting more in this new genre.. criticising the so called mahatma.. who actually betrayed the hundreds of thousands of untouchables.. i think these people are indoctrined since the beginning. too hard to make them know the truth.. hats off to ur work mam..

  5. pariahs – is this an english word? Havent heard of such a word.

  6. Impressive…hitting hard where it matters.

  7. Me and my classmates are doing an assignment on this poem!

  8. @Rigya, you are the third girl from your class to contact me. Awesome, today’s young people! All the best with your assignment.

  9. Pingback: Musings From The Empire « Oi With The Poodles Already

  10. Hello Meena,
    My name is Norbu and I am a final year Masters student in English Studies from IIT-Madras. Firstly, let me just say that this poem got to me instantly. Fantastic poem. But I couldn’t help but notice the striking similarities this poem has with Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy”. In fact I have written a paper on Sylvia Plath’s “Confessional Poetry”, with special reference to her poem “Daddy”. I guess your last line, “Bapu, bapu, you big fraud, we hate you” strongly resembled the sentiment expressed in Plath’s last line when she says, “Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through”. Coming to my questions, firstly, how much of an influence does Plath’s style have over your poetry? Secondly, with reference to your poem, have you used Gandhiji as a symbol for your frustrations with regards to an “authoritative male figure of the Hindu household” and as a symbol for the inability to truly recognize and at times an almost patronizing attitudes of non-Dalits, to the problem of untouchablity? Or is it a direct jibe at the figure of Gandhiji himself? This is because in Plath’s poem, she is not actually referring to the actual figure of her father but as a symbol of the “authoritative male figure” that looms large in her life (her husband didn’t help her cause either). Apologies, for this long-winded question but I couldn’t help but be facinated by this aspect of your poem.

  11. @Norbu, pls see first line of this poem… It was written when I was 17, just as I had finished reading Plath’s “Daddy” and was blown away by the idea.. Gandhi represents both the Daddy figure of the male/Hindu/Indian establishment which is Mohandas himself.

  12. yeah i am aware of it…but the resemblance was uncanny…and your adaptation of those ideas and molding it to the Dalit context… I must say are very original….so that is what struck me more than anything. Thank you for your response and once again brilliant poem. This was the first poem I had read by you and poems such as “Mascara”, “Their Daughters” have been a fascinating read!

  13. I am aware of the first line. But it was just that the resemblance between the two was uncanny, though I must say the adaptation of Plath’s ideas and molding them into the Dalit context has been handled in a truly original way. Thank you for your response. This was the first poem I had read by you and your other poems such as “Mascara” and “Their Daughters” have been a fascinating read.

  14. nice meena ,one of my friends who knows my dalit background had commented ,during an debate argument -that he understood why I did not like gandhi-at that time I didnt even know why I was supposed to hate Gandhi-but later on I came to know why.

  15. Most powerful poem, expressing the pain of Dalits and real face of biggest enemy of Dalits. No other leader did as much harm to Dalits as this idiot did.

  16. If you are celibate, you know it. You don’t go around sleeping with naked women to prove your celibacy, either to yourself or the outside world. Hindu Yogis never did that kind of stuff.

    And did he ever pause to think the psychological effect it would have had on the poor 17-year old girl, with whom he was sleeping ?

    In any other country he would have been hauled up for pedophilia and perversion and not allowed to mix with the rest of the society till he had satisfied the psychiatrists monitoring him.

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