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Apathy in the Time of Amphan

Apathy in the Time of Amphan

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My country still churns poetry out of mutilated migrant labourers.
The skeletal remnants of a metropolitan do not stir the nation’s conscience.
Death lies snuggled in the palms of my state,
destruction kneaded on the cold skies.
Humans lie like scattered petals on roads and roofs.
Artistic stimulation for some.
Ghost buildings are standing like cardboard boxes,
perforated by the needles of a storm;
like empty rides in an amusement park
of macabre revelry.
Lonely survivors are blinking like owls from their nests in pitch-black darkness.
Mosquitoes are having delectable meals on our blood,
apathy among people across the country is engulfing our souls.
Electricity wires lie entangled like the yarn in a loom,
parapets plummeting here and there like jigsaw puzzles.
Waterlogged potholes on broken streets,
lying like flecks of rust on old iron sheets.
Faint shrieks of distant nighthawks fading into darkness.
This cruel world sleeps around me like a roof of fallen dreams.
The fumes of downfall are stuck like a cancerous lump in my throat.
A part of the nation lies in wet ashes.

My country still churns poetry out of mutilated migrant labourers
because the mishmash of our grief and pains do not seem sufficiently suicidal.
Our reality died when that man switched over to a different channel on the television
at the slightest mention of the apocalypse we survived.
“Come on, child. Some people are struggling in stagnant waters,
Drowning like cereals in a bowl of milk.
Why didn’t they bolt their doors tight against the storm?
Why did the mutilated labourers choose to sleep on railway tracks?
Why did people in Vizag gulp down styrene as if they were feasting on free winter buffet?
Why did nine people want to die in the same well?
The plebeian mind is always a capsule of absurdities, child.
Take mental notes of what you are watching:
the national exodus,
ceaseless cries of unfed children sinking into the country’s heart
like static from dysfunctional radios,
tigers dying in the mangrove forests,
unemployed people staggering at imaginary gunpoint,
wasted mornings visiting them like the harbingers of death-
spin a fantastic tale in your upcoming essay competition.
Morbid sufferings sell well.”
We exist nowhere but in the nightmares of that ten-year-old:
like paralysed superheroes
with hand fans in our broken fingers,
and blood running in rivulets
down mechanised faces;
like corpses with eyes gouged out,
heads bent stiffly with rigour mortis.
My mouth still tastes of the blood of my people
and the skeleton of Calcutta pricks under my feet.

My country still churns poetry out of mutilated migrant labourers
because disarray in Bengal is not poetic enough.
We are still numbered voters in national politics,
squeezed till we melt into blood and vapours.
Helicopters flying above our heads;
it feels like we are stranded in a tuneless ocean
with no exact and measured space between life and death.
Dams on our unrhymed resilience have broken free,
brine has flooded our eyes
and houses in Sunderbans.
The slaughtered Sundari trees are no longer ‘sundari’,
or beautiful, in the coloniser’s language.
Our fingers are numbed with pain,
hair ruffled all over the place,
limbs ripped off in thousand uprooted trees,
lives parched dry between two rods of electrodes.
We are immune to the poison of indifference we have for breakfast
but my veins often start swelling,
threatening to burst with anger at the universe
when I am displayed as the subordinate regularly.
Strength is not always destined
to where weakness craves for it.

While watching transparent clouds veil the sky again like fine gossamer,
I am wondering if the resignation is a choice.
I want to talk the world to silence,
and will myself to an alternate universe.
There I would live
with splintered memories of Bengal’s beauty in my heart.
Because my country is still busy churning poetry out of mutilated migrant labourers.


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