Mudlark Flash No. 98 (2015)

Manash Bhattacharjee

Dalits, photograph by Marcus Perkins

Dalits, photograph by Marcus Perkins

Your Turn, Children

Hearing of Dalit children burnt alive by caste Hindus in Haryana
We always put you to task
You untouchables 
Sometimes, bored, tired
We come for your children 
We come for soft flesh
We come with hard skins  
Against skins crumbling
Without a shout or fury 
We come with petrol in our brains
We, combustible machines
Born from hate’s factories
The moment we learn who we are 
We know whom to kill 
It is our ancient duty, ancient pride 
We kill for old loyalties
To our ancestors, gods, scriptures 
We need you to clear the dirt 
You are the dirt we need to clear 
The dirt in our heads 
We need you to cleanse us   
From dirty fears in our soul  
We foul our own death
By the death we give you,
You do not have bodies like ours 
Our bodies are caged hymns 
Swords sheathed by pride
Our bodies are firewood   
We burn you like paper 
Your children burn like figs 
We burn what pricks our eyes 
We are born to gods 
Who burn with a mere glance 
If their pride is hurt — 
We learn from them 
We are an ancient civilisation 
Being ancient absolves us 
Of crimes we do in dark times
You are our dark times 
Your freedom is our darkness
Your children going to school  
Like our children 
Spells doom for ancient laws 
It’s your children’s turn
It’s your turn, children, 
We need to burn your future
For the sake of our past 

                                                      21 October 2015

Manash Bhattacharjee is a poet, writer, translator and political science scholar from JNU. His poems have appeared in The London Magazine, New Welsh Review, The Fortnightly Review, Elohi Gadugi Journal, The Postcolonialist, and First Proof: The Penguin Book of New Writing from India (Vol. 5), etc. His first collection of poems, Ghalib’s Tomb and Other Poems (2013), was published by The London Magazine. He is currently Adjunct Professor in the School of Culture and Creative Expressions at Ambedkar University, New Delhi. 

BBC News, India, Indian protests after Dalit children burnt alive in caste attack, 21 October 2015

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