• India 2019: The Great Leader’s Shadow

    Salil Chaturvedi

    November 23, 2018

    From the Editors:

    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?

    Listen to our fellow citizens speak of the country they don’t want and the India they want on the series India 2019 on the Indian Cultural Forum and Guftugu.

    Image Courtesy: Harvard Art Museum | "Steamer 'Odin' I (Leviathan)," 1917, oil painting by Lyonel Feininger

    The Great Leader's Shadow

    I went to see the great leader’s statue
    but it was too hot, so I stepped 
    into his shadow. Immediately I could hear 
    the tinkling of a stream. When my eyes 
    adjusted to the darkness  
    I made out a young boy standing
    close to me, along with his goat. 
    He smiled at my surprise. 
    He spat out the blade of grass 
    that he was chewing and said 
    it takes a while to get used to the shadow;
    you’ll be able to see more and more 
    as your eyes fill up with the void. 
    There are many of us here 
    and more keep coming. We spend 
    most of the day under the shadow 
    and move across the landscape 
    from west to east. 
    Where is the stream, I asked. 
    Oh, that’s the sound of all 
    the streams that went dry, he said. 
    Are you a ghost, I asked, 
    and then seeing the hurt in his eyes, 
    I mumbled that it was unhealthy to live 
    away from the sunlight. 
    The boy smiled again 
    and lifted his foot. 
    The sun was shining 
    under his soles. 
    That is where the grasses were growing.

    Read more:
    India 2019: A Self-Reliant Nation
    India 2019: दूसरा बटवारा 
    India 2019: Death of Democracy – An Inevitable Possibility under Capitalism

    Salil Chaturvedi writes short fiction and poetry in English and Hindi. He lives in Goa. His recently launched book of poems, 'Ya Ra La Va Sha Sa Ha' is available at pothi.com and Amazon.

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