Skip to content

Month: April 2021

Reel for Delhi in Springtime

When I tell you what it means 
to me to live in Delhi,

I won’t use trending music
or a dozen flashing photos

approved by the Ministry
of Tourism—

just a few words 
to conjure images--

that pair of young women 
brushing shoulders 

as they sip tea on the edge 
of the dusty maidan— 

or the thin, strong man
in the next lane over

who right now
is stripping off his shirt 

as he assesses a growing 
pool of stinking water—

and on a good day,
this might be enough

to get you to consider 
one or two simple ideas:

we can remake this world;
we can, and we must, my friends.
Leave a Comment

Abolish the Delhi Police

-for Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita

Maybe it’s just habit,
but even all these months after
they locked down the city
and took away friends of your friends,
sometimes you still float away 
at that moment when light’s fading 
and the first bats are flying;
and when you wake with a start
it is already dark—
you’re not sure where you are,
but you hear the door bang—
and then you’re relieved 
to find it’s a friend 
who wants to play cards—
or the newspaper man,
bringing the bill—
not someone who’s come
to take you away:

we don’t need police,
they spread only fear.
Leave a Comment

Questions I Don’t Need To Ask

Do you struggle against 
the deepening dark
because you read 
Marx or Ambedkar?
Or was it the bus driver
who whispered in your ear,
or the teacher who failed you,
or the neighbors who 
forced you to say, 
‘Everything is fine’?

Or was the way 
the world treated your parents—
or was it the way 
they still loved you?
Leave a Comment

Excess Demands (or Why Such a Shortage of Justice)

Do not call us terrorists
for protesting bad laws,
or jail us for laughing 
at gods or Amit Shah.

Let us love those we love;
don’t tell us how to pray;
and when we do equal work,
give us equal pay.

In jail, grant us straws,
if we tremble when we drink—
warm blankets when it’s cold,
and books so we can think.

Do not molest us or beat us
(in jail or in undisclosed locations
before you take us to jail.)

Do not torture us in any way:
no broken bones or bruises,
no solitary confinement;
we need space and time to sleep,
water and soap to wash.

Tell our families where we are.

Do not take us in the night
to a field or flyover,
and then shoot us before our trial.

Do not shoot us in broad daylight
and then call us terrorists.
Leave a Comment
>
Send this to a friend