You don’t know me,
but in the summer of 2019,
you met my friend—
she couldn’t stop talking about you:
a man who knew how to listen,
a leader who spent more time working
out of the spotlight than in it;
a scholar who’d learned the art
of switching autos mid-journey—
They trail me everywhere,
you told her, smiling,
Why should I bring them to you?
I was envious I hadn’t been there:
for months, I kept hearing your name
spoken alongside words like hero and hope.
When they put you inside, those words
were joined by rougher ones,
but don’t worry;
we have not forgotten.
I thought of you yesterday morning
as I passed by the PM’s residence
on the way to CP. The wind was cool
and smelled like a green living thing;
the Delhi sky was more blue than gray,
and clouds of bright yellow leaves
rose from a sweeper’s broom.
I thought: it’s springtime today,
but how long will it last?
My phone said Tihar Jail
was just 12 kms away;
at that moment I prayed
that you were near
an open window.
Alone at night, or on Delhi’s borders
we say your name when we pray or shout;
we have not forgotten you or the others,
we’ll welcome you all, when you come out.
I wish we could talk, under a tree,
I’d ask what you’d read, how did you cope?
I’d buy you a cup of special hot tea,
I’d ask what you think of heroes and hope.