September 19th

Protesters Rally against the violence at JU

It wasn’t a remarkable day in the beginning,
The morning lecture was droning on,
Some of the kids bent over their notes,
While others whispered at the back.
Like every class of university students,
We were just another lively batch.

A few were huddled close near the gates,
Some stood idly by, scattered around the place,
Here and there, you could see them talking,
Or clasping their hands, in pairs, walking,
Laughter in there voices, eyes sparkling.
As sunshine rippled across the small pond,
A soft breeze set the leaves above swaying.

It was a peaceful protest led by the students,
Standing in solidarity, they were heard singing.
Earlier in the afternoon, a politician had trespassed,
Into the sacred grounds of knowledge and education,
They had marched, with arms and security guards.
Uninvited they were and illegally forcing in.

Hired goons were gathered from the local neighbourhood,
A typical case of gloating their muscle power.
Sent to create a ruckus, to instill among us a sense of fear,
For fear begets hate and destroys all that we hold dear,
Willing most into conformity, and weakening the rest,
Leaving us trapped in such a miserable state.

Paying no heed to the rules of propriety,
Like dogs they chased down those trying to run away.
Like bullies they stomped into our rooms, breaking chairs,
Smashing boards and dragging students by the hair,
Out of libraries suddenly shoving them into the chaos everywhere.
They fired shots in the air, taking pleasure in numbers to scare.

You would think maybe at least now the police would care?
But we couldn’t have been more utterly wrong.
They turned their backs when needed were they the most.
Hiding behind their uniforms, they let the mob rampage,
Pelting stones at the protesters, anti-nationalists they called those
Students who had stood up to resist, raising slogans in the air.

They shut down the electricity inside the campus,
In order to bring the situation in control, or so they said,
And yet students were seen beaten by sticks and bricks.
Instead of protection, they received only police brutality.
The News channels turned blind just then conveniently,
Radio static noises could be discerned in the broadcast.

The night was cold and perhaps ceaselessly long
But undeterred they waited and sang along
Mere kids they might have been but indomitable within
They resisted the fascist regime all alone until
September 19th, remained branded in our minds
Burnt into our memory like a scar that won’t fade easily.

Written in memory of the incident of police brutality and organised vandalism by members affiliated with political parties that took place in Jadavpur University on September 19, 2019. This is an extremely personal poem, I request readers to maintain sensitivity while commenting on it. Thanks for your kind support as always!

Mother’s Love

Credit: Pixelbay

Mother, why do you cry?
As I look up at your bloodshot eyes
My lips tremble, but I have learned
To gulp down the betraying tears
That threaten to spill one by one.
It will be alright, mother, I want to say.
I too want to hug you tight, you know
Like I see the other kids my age do
At bus stops and school gates in the noon.

Mother, I love you, you know that right?
But I know better than to anger you tonight.
Hastily so I scrub the dinner table clean
And proceed to wash the dishes that pile in the sink
I remember each little detail about you, you see
I know just how hot you want your tea to be
To keep the peace undisturbed, it’s what I must do,
For you make sure every time I’m wrong,
I know just how out of discipline I had gone
By leaving scalding marks on my wrists of
Punishments that I must have simply deserved.
Because, surely, you did it only out of love.

Mother, are you upset with me?
My little sister, she doesn’t understand why
Mother, she cannot cook anything tonight.
But it will be alright, let me take over, don’t worry
You see, at twelve, I have grown up quite a lot.
I can take care of you and my sister and I
I can light the stove and set the pot aflame,
I will keep our home running just fine.
Nobody will notice anything amiss, I promise.

But through the corner of my eyes,
Sometimes, I steal a few glances at you.
Catch you busily talking on your phone.
I try not to eavesdrop, but your voice drifts near me
How can I ignore then, the words that seem to pour out
You say you want to get rid of me,
Of my sister too, as quickly as you can do.
You wish we were dead or never even been born.

My eyes start to blur, but I shake my head.
No no, mother still loves us, right?
She is only angry and doesn’t mean it really.
We must have been two very naughty little girls,
Or else why would she be so furious at us.
What could it be that we did wrong this time?
My hand stirs the pot, but my mind wanders beyond.
Should I hug you now and say sorry?
Or maybe I should go to our basement, face the wall.
Maybe tonight I will be punished more than ever before.
I won’t mind it though, for I know we will be together
This is how you love us after all, isn’t that so mother?

This was inspired by a true incident of child abuse that I came across online, the victim used their social media platforms to express and describe their traumatic experiences. I’m not sure if they got the help or therapy they needed, but I wanted to write something after knowing their ordeal. This is my personal understanding of the amount of agony any child might go through when their primary care giver turns abusive instead of being supportive. I want this to be both a tribute to the survivors, as well as an appeal to our better senses so that when we see another child carrying this burden, we might be of some help to them. Thanks for reading this rather long poem and additional notes in the end.

Moth II

Three little moths once flew into her mouth,
Shrugging, she gulped them down whole.
Fluttering they had finally settled down,
In three separate corners of her heart.
Dispensable little creatures of the night,
What harm could they do to me anyway?
So she thought, hardly a threat really.

For one by one they soon turned into dust,
Leaving their tiny bones jingling in the hollow ribcage.
Until only one of them remained alive,
Surviving as if by luck till the very end.
Gallons of water she swallowed everyday,
Breathing in air and breathing out again.
Gusts of wind shook the walls inside of her,
And yet the tiny moth stubbornly stayed.

Stretching its wings out now and then,
As though preparing for its last flight,
Like a persisting itch it remained behind.
Slowly growing, though trapped it was,
Counting seconds with every beat of her heart.
Wistfully, she stared at the evening twilight.
As days passed she grew afraid of the night.

Looking in the mirror, startled she was sometimes,
For there it was, something brown and hairy.
But soon she forgot it, nightmares maybe.
Often she stood at the edge of the balcony,
Wishing she could jump off and fly away.
But funny it seemed later and so she laughed it off.

Even in her dreams now she seemed to grow
A pair of wings and a long curled antennae
Strangely familiar she thought, though
To what exactly she couldn’t recollect.
Now and then she sat by the fireplace,
Watching intensely as the fire crackled.
Mysterious it seemed and how beautiful,
Those orange tongues dancing up and down.

Compelled she felt momentarily,
To reach out and touch those flames.
But she dared not do that, and yet,
Terribly drawn to it she was.
As the flames of the fire rose up higher,
Her eyes stalked their every move.
Involuntarily she smacked her dry lips wet,
As a sudden urge grabbed her from within.

Trembling slightly she stuck out her tongue,
Tasting the fire, a bitter almond taste.
Reminding her of dried leaves, burnt pine cones.
Slowly she watched, wrapped in suspense.
As the fire danced on the tip of her fingers.
Quickly it travelled up the hems of her skirt,
And whoosh her hair caught that same red.

She twirled around and laughed in wild glee,
Watching the fire coming alive on her skin.
Her eyes were still wide open with wonder,
How bright it really is!
The smell of burnt pine cones lingered,
As a single moth rising from the last ember,
Fluttering, flew out through the window again.