India 2019: The Great Leader’s Shadow
November 23, 2018
From the Editors:
Is this the India we want?
A country in which citizens are murdered or attacked for being rational; for being critical, for raising a voice of dissent; for just being themselves, Muslim or Dalit or women. Intimidation, threats. Hatred. Lynching. Sickening violence. Students and teachers given the choice between being leashed in thought and word, or being hounded as seditious. Institutions built over the years weakened. The economy and development turned into exercises that mock the needs and aspirations of most people. The secularism, the scientific temper and the rights promised in our Constitution subverted every day. Our democracy, our India, frayed.
But this is our country. It belongs to us, and we belong to it. We have each other for support. We have our poems and songs and films and essays and fiction and art. Our diverse voices.
What is the India we want?
Listen to our fellow citizens speak of the country they don’t want and the India they want on the series India 2019 on the Indian Cultural Forum and Guftugu.
Image Courtesy: Harvard Art Museum | "Steamer 'Odin' I (Leviathan)," 1917, oil painting by Lyonel Feininger
The Great Leader's Shadow
I went to see the great leader’s statue
but it was too hot, so I stepped
into his shadow. Immediately I could hear
the tinkling of a stream. When my eyes
adjusted to the darkness
I made out a young boy standing
close to me, along with his goat.
He smiled at my surprise.
He spat out the blade of grass
that he was chewing and said
it takes a while to get used to the shadow;
you’ll be able to see more and more
as your eyes fill up with the void.
There are many of us here
and more keep coming. We spend
most of the day under the shadow
and move across the landscape
from west to east.
Where is the stream, I asked.
Oh, that’s the sound of all
the streams that went dry, he said.
Are you a ghost, I asked,
and then seeing the hurt in his eyes,
I mumbled that it was unhealthy to live
away from the sunlight.
The boy smiled again
and lifted his foot.
The sun was shining
under his soles.
That is where the grasses were growing.
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