Readers’ Lockdown Poetry

Image courtesy: Souvik Manna

— Abhik Bhattacharya
Don't you have a Balcony
Where from you can look into the desired Sunrise?
You deserve to see more. 
More than the Royal Constructions have denied permission for. 
You must be allowed to see the Horizon-
The changing colors of time,
The emancipatory kisses of sunlight and leaves.
You must have more. 
More than you ever thought of!
Perhaps Mountain-Ocean together! 
But No!
They are too rich to block your view!
Don't you have a Balcony 
Where from you can play Tagore songs?
As a Bhadrolok you must. 
You must preserve Tagore's authenticity. 
You are entitled to. 
You can count the numbers of violators
Crowding the roads to buy essentials when they are not asked for. 
'They are too ignorant to understand the Pandemic'
You say to yourself. 
You shouldn't look down. 
Look up- up- Up- 
Until you can find the rolling cloud with utter sophistication 
Merging with your romantic melancholy! 
You must enjoy your evening coffee! 
As a Bhadrolok you must.
Don't you have a Balcony 
Where from you can narrate your story of Paid Isolation? 
You are so Bored-
It is only your Balcony that gives you food for thought. 
You need a Pen and Paper. 
You may write. 
Perhaps A poem/ A Script/ Or may be an Opinion Piece? 
May be a Facebook Post condemning the 'Ignorance of Common Man'? 
You must write it. 
It is your Opinion that Matters! 
Take a Sip!
It is too Boring! 
Don't you have a Balcony 
Where from you can click the Photograph of a Sparrow 
That sat on your new sapling sowed for environmental cause? 
As an Environmentalist you must. 
You now need to put some hashtag. 
You think. 
Think for a long. 
You need some New Saplings. 
As an Environmentalist you must! 
Don't you have a Balcony?
Why have you thronged into the Roads in Numbers Risking Our Lives?
Don't you fear the Virus?
Don't you fear the Police at least?
Where are you going?
Do you have a Balcony there?
An armchair may be? Or an unarmed One At least?
Why are you going?
You must be disinfected.
You must be given proper lesson for violating the Norms- 
The Norms of the Balcony- 
The Balcony from where I will look down upon you- 
Will write poems/ prose 
And Words of Empathy!
In this Detoxified nature, 
Let me breathe. 
Let me breathe as the fear of Anthropocene goes away.
Let me breathe as the new flower blooms!
I must buy a New Armchair for My New Balcony! 


India is walking barefoot
— Rajendra Prasad
Translated from Kannada by Prathibha Nandakumar

All eyes are watching
from the balconies, courtyards
walkways, porticos and from
their interior thalamus.
They are watching.

From the roads to the Havelis
From Dolor’s Colonies
From skyscraper towers
and satellites
they are watching.

With eyes blinking and mind dead
Humanity Flickers hidden deep down
inside the somatic cell.
They are, finally, looking beyond
the windows, beyond
the glass and beyond
the frames.

The world class, indivisible, unique India,
is walking barefoot.
Carrying loads on its shoulder and hips
Wearing the beads of grief around its tired neck
Sunken eyes reflecting the country roads taking home
Clutching tender fingers of children
India walks, barefoot, in hot summer.

The entire cities and the country locked down
quarantined inside the house
Ignored, ridiculed, the hungry stomachs
go in search of a fistful of food.
Tens and hundreds fast turning into lakhs
with dreams shattered
India is walking barefoot

The pitiful offered water
The angry gave some steaming rice
The grieved collapsed
Some stood transfixed muttering
Alas, ayyayyo… Rama Rama

Now the balconies are making noise.
Plates, conch, drums and gongs blaring,
as if death is drawing closer,
having paid the toll
demanded by the pandemic,
India is walking barefoot.


— Ananya Guha

Now locked in homes 
we fight Covid
thousands fought till the 
other day;
by silently going home 
hundreds of miles away 
stop them, we shouted
this is reverse migration 
dangerous for them and us
but they continued, wept even
children, mothers, fathers 
and we shouted, blamed
but unlike them, did not weep.
Some said: how can you stop 
them from going home?
Others said, they are migrant workers
they will go home, this is reverse migration
they want the comfort of homes
Now, we are silent 
they have stopped going home
but the ones who started, have they reached?
It doesn’t matter, we are safely locked inside
Ours is adverse migration. 

A Song during COVOID-19 lockdown, March 2020 Delhi 
— Azhar Uddin Sahaji
Did you see…
Longing speaks louder in Detention;
Did you see 
Streets are empty 
Man is Caged 
Birds are Free 
Flying over the City!
Did you see, 
How blue is the sky 
But nobody to look up 
For a moment to pause
Flocks of man 
Walking down… 
Did you see an Exodus?
Do you recall Musa? 

Souvik Manna is a Kolkata based Freelance Photographer.
Abhik Bhattacharya is a doctoral research fellow at Ambedkar University, Delhi.
Rajendra Prasad is a Toto Award winning young poet with seven poetry collections in Kannada to his credit.
Prathibha Nandakumar is an award winning poet, journalist, translator and filmmaker, with 24 books to her credit. She writes in both Kannada and English.
Ananya S Guha is a writer based in Shillong. He works at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) as a senior academic.
Azhar Uddin Sahaji teaches English at Delhi University. He writes both in Bangla and English.