Your Turn, Children

(Hearing of Dalit children burnt alive by caste Hindus in Haryana)

We always put you to task,
You untouchables,
Sometimes, bored, tired,
We come for your children,
We come for soft flesh,
We come with hard skins —
Against skins crumbling
Without a shout or fury,
We come with petrol in our brains,
We, combustible machines,
Born from hate’s factories —
The moment we learn who we are
We know whom to kill,
It is our ancient duty, ancient pride,
We kill forold loyalties
To our ancestors, gods, scriptures,
We need you to clear the dirt,
You are the dirt we need to clear —
The dirt in our heads,
We need you to cleanse us
From dirty fears in our soul,
We dirtyour own death
By the death we give you,
You do not have bodes like ours,
Our bodies are made of hymns —
Pride sheathes our body of sword
We burn you like paper —
Your children burn like figs,
We burn what burns our pride,
We are born to gods
Who burn with a mere glance
If their pride is hurt —
We learn from them,
We are an ancient civilisation,
Being ancient absolves us
Of crimes we do in dark times
Youare our dark times —
Your freedom is our darkness,
Your children going to school
With our children
Spells doom for ancient laws,
It’s your children’s turn
It’s your turn, children,
We need to burn your future —
For the sake of our past

Manash Bhattacharjee,
21 October, 2015

Manash Bhattacharjee is a poet, writer, translator and political science scholar from JNU. His poems have appeared in The London Magazine, New Welsh Review, The Fortnightly Review, Elohi Gadugi Journal, The Postcolonialist, etc. His first collection of poetry, Ghalib’s Tomb and Other Poems (2013), was published in The London Magazine. He is currently Adjunct Professor in the School of Culture and Creative Expressions at Ambedkar University, New Delhi.