• India 2019: Everything Drowns, Except This Poem

    K Srilata

    October 25, 2018

    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?

    Vasudha Thozhur, ‘Travelogue – The Aesthetics of Tragedy II’

    Everything Drowns, Except This Poem

    I am standing in a country I know like my skin. 
    The rain is falling slim and sweet,
    on crisp butterfly wings,
    on the singing minds of people,
    and since there are windows
    left carelessly open,
    the rain is falling in a gentle slant on books,
    on the words inside them.

    I am standing in a country of many-hued umbrellas.
    In it, not one word,
    not one poem,
    is allowed to drown.

    I am standing in a country I once knew like my skin.
    The rain is falling like knives,
    snapping the wings of butterflies,
    and the singing minds of people.
    The rain is falling like hard slaps on books,
    until no words remain,
    except the ones, wet and angry,
    which have sought shelter inside this poem.
    I am standing in a country of broken umbrellas,
    where everything drowns,
    except this poem, wet and angry,
    that insists on living.

    Read more:
    India 2019: The Nation I Want and the Nation I Don’t Want
    Anand Teltumbde: “The foremost task is to save India in the 2019 elections…”
    India 2019: Three Poems

    K Srilata is a poet, fiction writer, and professor of English at IIT Madras. Her collections of poems include Bookmarking the Oasis, Writing Octopus, Arriving Shortly and Seablue Child. She co-edited the anthology Rapids of a Great River: The Penguin Book of Tamil Poetry. Her novel Table for Four, longlisted in 2009 for the Man Asian literary prize, was published by Penguin.

    Donate to the Indian Writers' Forum, a public trust that belongs to all of us.