Who keeps me company in these premises?
The blue sky above,
oceans of thoughts within,
a shut door and a lock hanging outside,
wide open memories and the patience I’m so used to, inside.
Are there no human beings here?
In which sense!
This is solitary confinement to my soul
Trees with fruity minds and flowery hearts,
birds like my urge for freedom
waiting on the power line
to rise up into the sky
Other prisoners find time
to stealthily peep in through the crevices of the door.
‘Convicts’ sneakily wish me
On pretexts of calling me for court or mulaqat.
Nobody should meet me,
Those around me should not speak with me.
A forced peaceful coexistence
with Congress, culture and the black market.
Those speaking with me can’t understand my words;
those who understand can’t get my anguish
The shadow of this block
Is prohibited to fall on the other.
Who is here to keep me company?
A sealed radio and censored newspapers;
If the news of an encounter that is only really fake
is edited out, that is a newspaper.
In the solitary silence of the night
jailmates from their radio send me
the passion of Pyasa and the agony of Malleeswari;
Stars tossed in packets of jasmine
(they get stones in marijuana packets from the street outside).
If you tune the radio for news here
You find only… death.
Death-fang on life’s struggle,
a forced end to the dreams of the youth.
Waiting is the only company
to the tears that swirl in me.
Elongated, sleepless nights,
sound of tracks in the books
that run on my tongue;
It isn’t the noise from the fan,
But the outrage of waterfalls within
Black letters turn to red blood cells,
they enter me and give me renewed strength.
As a person who’s slept amidst rails
after intense running,
I wake up with broken nightmares
amidst the crisis of day and night.
As emotion pressures my blood,
my mind in wet thoughts
beats Choma’s Drum.
I imagine the phoenix
turning to ashes in the peace of a graveyard.
In the movement of the locus between dawn and dusk
who keeps me company?
Foresight supplies breath;
Conviction on Naxalbari.
17 September 1986
Malleeswari – a popular Telugu film of 1950s, a favorite of poets for its lyrical beauty
Choma’s Drum – a novel of K S Karant, made into a popular film Chomana Dudi, famous for violent drum beat