• India’s Orange

    Medha Singh

    September 21, 2017


    Paul Klee, "Tower in Orange and Green", 1922/ Image courtesy metmuseum.org


    A dream swells up inside me

    like a flooded, wrathful river.


    Kayoed by the heat of a pink star I see

    it refuses to set quietly into the dusty horizon,

    and insists on staying, as they let it, in Finland–

    gazed at by bewildered girls

    on drugs in a still pond.


    There I lie, at its behest, dizzy, immobile, befuddled,

    keeled over, face on rugged surface, my firebrand

    heart and in slow-mo, my weak nose thwacked

    by some unforgiving piece of earth, as I drop.


    Ritual of passage

    into the subconscious.


    Lo, a new world finds my feet:

    I’m the sky, in my chest, a procession

    of ecclesiastical fruit bats float

    over, into the firmament above India gate,

    and unable to stop at the thought:

    what pigeons do to humans under them

    what bats don't.


    As the sun is spilling over the crown of Jama Masjid,

    in this dream I sight The Devil sighing

    regretfully, atop its red sandstone and white marble–

    structure and color, dervish together under

    the stubborn, brilliant, sun that once

    belonged to Dylan Thomas alone.


    Meanwhile, The Devil–

    He’s had a long night, and no sleep.


    Whispering to himself, ‘What have I done?’

    He holds his head in his hands, turns

    and lunges forth to grab my collar,

    "What’re you doing here?" with one fist,

    and with the other, an open palm, gesticulates



    "The savage victory of India's orange

    clad henchmen, pure as the Ganga in 2017,

    clean as the khaki that adorns the genitals

    of their cult! Those who will

    not be named among the likes of you

    for fear of…"


    trailing off, he disappears

    into thin smoke.


    I’m awake.


    I shake my head in despair:

    even The Devil is sad.

    He has a sense of justice.


    Medha Singh is a poet from New Delhi. Her first collection of poems Ecdysis (2017) has been published by Poetrywala, Mumbai. Her poems have previously appeared in NetherMuse IndiaBeyond BordersThe Bombay Literary MagazineThe Journal of the Poetry Society, and several others. She is​ currently​ Editor-at-Large at Coldnoon.

    Donate to the Indian Writers' Forum, a public trust that belongs to all of us.