Sunday, 3 April 2016

Human, Too

I am a human too.

I killed my mother, my father says.
Lying abed, without a doctor anywhere near, she died
Two days after giving birth to me.

That kind of thing, you know, happens every day
When you live in a village in the forest
And the nearest hospital is
Far, far away.

Where was my father then?
Gathering tendu leaves for the contractor
For so much a bundle, because without them
He and his wife would not eat that night.

That sort of thing, you know, happens every day
When you live in a village in the forest
And the labour laws
Are far, far away.

I grew up without knowing how to read and write
Without shoes on my feet
And I never knew if I would have something to eat

But that, you know, is as it is
When you live in the village in the forest
And the nearest school
Is far, far away.

My father died and he left me in debt
And the money lender said
His kindness would open for me
As wide as I opened my legs.

The politician came, and he made a nice speech
Surrounded by men with guns
Things would go well, he said
Roads and power, schools and jobs

All would be ours, and more besides
If we only voted the right way.
The elections came – and we never saw him again
Not once to this day.

I had a fiancé, he was my love
And we had planned a life together
Far away from this place
Far away from disgrace
And we would be happy.

The miners came, they came dressed in suits and ties
And they said our land would be theirs
If we gave it to them, they might pay something.
If we did not, we would pay everything,
They said, and went away.

The police came, they came with their guns
And they said the men were Maoists, took them away
A trigger squeezed in a field
Blood and death in a field

And my love was gone, my dreams were done
Burned away like mists in the morning sun
By the squeeze of a finger.

But things like that, you know, happen every day
In the villages of the forest
Where the law is a weapon to fear, and rights
Are all far, far away.

The death squads came, they came in dead of night
They burned the roofs above our heads
It was a Maoist base they destroyed, they said
And they would take us to camps, far from our lands
Far from our lives, far, far away.

The Maoists came, as they said they’d come
And they did not point guns at anyone
They told us instead
That the future they offered was red

Victory would not come today
They said, victory was far away
But ever step was one step closer, they said

And they told me

I am a human too,
I am a human too.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2016

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