Tag Archives: India

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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The Gods wake up

Another worst things with the Gods is that
They sleep most of the time—
                          (they don’t even dream).
If you happen to go near heaven:
It is a very noisy boring place.
And all that you get to hear there are—
Thirty three million synchronized godly snores.
                          (The Goddesses snore too).

The Gods sleep right through the prayers
Performed by the Brahmins—
                          (maybe they find it boring).
Births, Marriages, innumerable yagnas,
Brahmins take the center-stage, all the
Gods skip. Also, “Om” is now obsolete—
a kind of recurring mosquito buzz.
                          (Besides, Om is ©opyrighted).

At times, the sleeping celestials do stir.
Gods always get excited over funerals—
                          (they are kind of necrophilic).
The loud drums lead the dead to eternal sleep,
Ancient noises herald the escaping life.
This deeper music shakes the skies.
That’s when the Gods wake up.
                          (Just to receive the dead.)

We will rebuild worlds

We will rebuild / worlds from shattered glass/ and remnants of holocausts.

Once impaled for our faith / and trained to speak in voiceless whispers / we’ll implore / you to produce the list / from hallowed memories / of our people disgraced/ as outcastes / degraded / as untouchable at / sixty-four feet / denied a life/ and livelihood and done to death /

in so many ways it would take / an encyclopedia to describe and steven-spielberg / or some-such-guy to produce the special effects for a blockbuster version /

not just the stories of how/ you charred to death forty-four of our men and women and children / because they asked for handfuls of rice/

electrocuted children to instant death because they played in your well / and other ghastly carnages

but the crimes of passion/
our passion/ your crimes

poured poison and pesticide through the ears-nose-mouth/ or hanged them in public / because a man and a woman dared to love/ and you wanted / to teach / other boys and other girls / the lessons of / how to / whom to / when to / where to / continue their caste lines

and we will refresh your mind with other histories / of how you brutally murdered and massacred our peoples / with the smiling promise of / heaven in the next birth / and in this / a peace that / never belonged.

We will wipe away the / sham of your smiles / that appear and / disappear like commercials on prime time tv / smiles that flash across / botoxed faces / smiles that crease / plucked eyebrows / smiles that are pasted and / plastered to your lips/ smiles that sell yourself / smiles that seek to / sell us into soulless worlds.

We will singe the many skins you wear to the world/ the skins you change at work / the skins called castes and / skins called race / the skins you mend once a week / the skin you bought at a sale/ the skin you thought was yours / the filthy rich stinking skin you thought you could retain at bed.

Shorn of style / and a hypocrisy named / sophistication / there would be nothing for you to do but gape at our combat gears.

We will learn/ how to fight/ with the substantial spontaneity/
with which we first learnt / how to love.

So / now/ upon a future time/
there will be a revolution.

It will begin in our red-hot dreams that surge that/ scorch that / scald that sizzle like lava / but never settle down never / pungently solidify.

It will begin / when the song in the sway/ of our hips/ will lead us to dance and sing/ and stand up straight / put up a pretty fight/ redeem and reclaim/ the essence of our earth.

It will begin / as our naked bodies / held close together / like hands in prayer / against each other/ like hands in prayer / set to defy the dares the /diktats the years the terms / the threats / that set us apart.

It will begin / as we give names to our children and/ give names to our / inward anger and aches and / name ourselves / with words of fury / like forest fires / with the words of wrath / like stealthy wildcat eyes / that scare the cowards/ in power /away.

It will begin / the way thunder rises in our throats and / we will brandish our slogans with a stormy stress and succeed / to chronicle to / convey the last stories / of our lost and scattered lives.

It will begin / when the oppressors will wince/ every time they hear our voices and their sparkly silence will never be taken for a sacrament.

It will begin when never / resting we will scream / until / our uvulas tear away and our breathless words breathe life to the bleeding dead and in the black magic of our momentary silences / you will hear two questions / India, what is the caste of sperm? / India, what is the cost of life? and the rest of our words will rush/ in this silenced earth / like the rage of a river in first flood.

It will begin / that day when / we will pay /
all that it takes / for the dangerous price of love.

Prayers

In an arid land of arid human minds
Caste, yet again authored a tragedy.
He, disease wrecked, downtrodden,
long-ago skinner of animals, sets out.
Ten days of Typhoid, and a partial recovery.
Enough reason to thank some God.

He drags himself clumsily to a nearby temple.
Sadly, of an Upper-caste God.
Away from the temple, he bends in supplication.
Says his last prayer—Unwelcome Gratefulness.
To a God who (anyway) didn’t help him recover.
Innocent Acts of Undulating Faith spurned
Anger. Retaliation.

An irked Rajput surged forth
and smote the untouchable with a iron rod.
He, warrior caste lion couldn’t tolerate
Encroachment. At the temple. By a Dalit.
Deathly howls of a feeble-voiced
rent the air, fervently seeking holy intervention.
God, Lifeless as ever—watched grimly with closed eyes.
In resigned submission, the sick man’s Life was given away.
Caste—crueler than disease, emotionless, dry, took its toll
Confirming traditional truths: Dalits die, due to devotion.

Unanswered questions remain;
Agony is not always a forgotten memory.

Life teaches: there are different Gods at different temples.
One solitary thought haunts recollection day and night.
Where did this poor man’s sixty-five year old soul go?
To Heaven – to join noble martyrs who died for a cause?
Or to Hell—where the Gods reside, making Caste Laws.

(First published in Kritya)

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)

Becoming a Brahmin

Algorithm for converting a Shudra into a Brahmin

Begin.

Step 1: Take a beautiful Shudra girl.
Step 2: Make her marry a Brahmin.
Step 3: Let her give birth to his female child.
Step 4: Let this child marry a Brahmin.
Step 5: Repeat steps 3-4 six times.
Step 6: Display the end product. It is a Brahmin.

End.

Algorithm advocated by Father of the Nation at Tirupur.
Documented by Periyar on 20.09.1947.

Algorithm for converting a Pariah into a Brahmin

Awaiting another Father of the Nation
to produce this algorithm.

(Inconvenience caused due to inadvertent delay
is sincerely regretted.)

(First published in The Little Magazine)