• India 2019: Three Fragments

    Devanshu Mishra

    December 21, 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.


    Susan Rothenberg, Galisteo Creek, Oil on canvas, 1992 | Image Courtesy: Metropolitan Museum of Art

    -I-

    India
    I have no change to spare,
    please forgive me
    India four bloodied tenners
    and a five-rupee-coin from '02
    but I think we always knew
    you'd outlive me
    I love what you've done with your hair
    but डरती थी, बाल गिर जाएँ तो??
    India I have exactly three questions
    and they are क्यों , why and काएँ-कु?
    These दिल्ली nights get cold but
    only in places
    India this nagging insistence on names
    is silly, learn to read faces
    तारीख पर तारीख has made
    our ventures seem dated
    India let's change our relationship status
    to Complicated.
    India I think I ran into you on the metro
    but it might have been a trick of the light
    India I'm still broken up
    about Hashimpura
    India I'm sorry I never learnt to fight
    And I'm sorry my mood keeps swinging
    between faux sentient and retro
    and I'm sorry I banged up your car
    and your scooter, and our economy
    and I'm sorry I don't appear more penitent
    and I'm sorry we never reached the stars.

    *

    -II-

    India I remember the G.K. Books taught me
    your rich and glorious history
    I wrote down state names and capitals
    to memorize 'em, but the bit with the rivers
    remains a mystery. Is the Yamuna the one
    that resembles your liver? Do people still
    deposit their sins in the गंगा? India it is
    more blood than water at this point
    India और भई सब ख़ैरियत? सब चंगा?
    Whenever you are done bcc: eyeing that joint
    Two drags apiece and then screw-these-guys,
    Home. India you're too crowded to make me
    feel this alone. Who decides what becomes
    of the myths of our childhood?
    What words mean more than some kindness
    and a smile would? But India we both know
    You and I are too far gone. Fat fish mucking up
    a small fucking pond. But India, here's
    my notes on the Great Beyond: it's whatever
    helps you get through the long, dark night.
    India cutting short somebody's days over it
    is the exact, diametric opposite of right.
    You misspelled sickular, but let's
    blame it on 'em presstitutes! India
    your dynasties don't give a shit
    for the destitute. India it's them damn
    anti-nationals.  Them damn anti-nationals
    with laptops. And placards. And pens.
    Some students. Some teachers. Anyone
    who knows how to spell dissent. Anyone
    fielding on the leg side (or off side, if
    the batsman identifies as left-hand).
    And the batsman, if he identifies 
    as left-hand. Help them, India, with
    firm elbows and a deft hand and
    some rugs on their sobbing heads
    we can claim are not recent. India
    your infants bawl naked, it's not
    decent. India your queues are starving,
    let them eat mud. India we're
    here to thrash and eat and we're
    almost out of cud. How do these
    protesters find us, India? They mean to
    sink and undermine us, India,
    these blog-ranting-non-chanting-
    drinking-smoking-fornicating-kissing
    (in public?) degenerates. India let's
    count our lost and missing while
    your moral fabric regenerates.

    *

    -III-

    India we're nearly done here
    and you can probably tell me
    exactly what I am. India soy
    is no substitute for chicken
    or ham. India don't worry, though,
    the only B-word I'll abuse today
    is brother. India finish up that bottle
    and I'll get us another. India I can
    already see strangers congregating
    around a future stain on the pavement.
    Will you please whisper my name while
    they're screaming of depravement?
    I know, I know, the correct form is 'depravity'
    India the word of the day is gravity.
    I am Perumal Murugan and I'm M.M. Kalburgi
    I'm the snap in the गर्दन of a सोने की मुर्गी.


    Read more:
    India 2019: Everything Drowns, Except This Poem
    Anand Teltumbde: “The foremost task is to save India in the 2019 elections…”
    India 2019: The Nation I Want and the Nation I Don’t Want

    Devanshu Mishra is a poet writing in Delhi. He has been nominated for the TFA awards three times.

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