THE MAN WITH THE SOLAR BRAIN
His brain awash with solar rays
The man with the solar brain
Walks past the cotton fields
And the mobile towers
Listening to the tweets and
The songs of extinct birds.
Extinct is he, a dead man walking,
But with solar winds
Colliding with his body
Packed in the barks of extinct trees.
He is the last man standing
In a field of dug up crops
And the rumble of a future city
Yet his pyre is yet to be lit
As he has his crematorium in the extinct sun.
Extinct corn, extinct buffalo,
Extinct water, extinct air,
The extinct man with the solar brain
Walks on bravely with a sun on his head.
The son of Solaris, the planet of dead green memories.
His phone rings, he picks up,
And from the phone flows out
That great evergreen Bollywood song
“Meri desh ki dharthi…” (Courtesy BSNL)
THE ARITHMETIC OF PROTEST
766 is a magic number, said the Greeks.
When you near this number all earlier numbers
Shed their wrappings and dance like flames.
On a blackboard in Statue junction,
I write this number
And calculate many permutations.
The pairs of feet that passed him by in a second
Equals 2 x 60x 60x24x 766 = 13,23,64,800, say 13 crores.
The 2011 census pegs the population of Kerala at 3.33 crores.
Which shows that Kerala trampled over him four times in 766 days, without seeing him.
That’s statistics for you.
I dig for more interesting data
like The number of idlis consumed in Ananda Bhawan for 766 days,
The number of beers guzzled in Hotel Pankaj in 766 days,
The number of coconuts burst in the Ganapati temple in 766 days,
The number of books bought in DC or Modern Book House in 766 days,
The number of makeshift hearths lighted for two Ponkalas,
The number of activists in the political rallies that end there,
The number of delegates who attended two IFFKs,
The number of connoisseurs at the cultural evenings in VJT Hall,
The number of people, who attended weddings in Sree Moolam Club,
The number of buses, cars, autos, bikes, scooters, cacophony
That passed him by for 766 days, without seeing him.
When a man is alone, he turns invisible.
So said Thiruvalluvar or someone or no one.
(A 25 year old man lay on the sidewalk in front of the Kerala Secretariat for 766 days, demanding justice for his brother who was beaten to death in police custody in a Trivandrum police station. It took Kerala 766 days to see him lying there on the sidewalk.)
THE BULLET TRAIN BY POET AADHAR NO: 9876 5432 1001
(THE WORLD’S FIRST AADHAR LINKED POEM)
The Shinkensan Model accelerates to
217 miles an hour, cutting journey time
to 3 hours from Ahmedabad to Mumbai.
Mukesh sings “ Meri gaadi hai japaani”
in a soulful studio radio.
Born post-war, Shinso Abe smiles
and waves and hugs like Hirohito.
This Bullet Train is the Brahmaasthra of the epics.
Or, the Narayanasthra or the Rama Bana.
Sometimes, it is a Mohanasthra
that drugs billions of people putting them in a daze.
There is another Bullet Train.
A 7.65 Calibre Make in India model
that passes through stations with strange names like
Pansare West and
its destination set in Bangalore
where it rockets through a pulsating heart.
This train now will pass through
Under skin arteries and veins and nerves
Tunneling through bone marrow and muscles
Till it comes to rest on a magnificent spine bridge,
perched like a toy train in a full moon night
till the slightest breeze causes the compartments
to topple into a depth less soul, one by one.
a black man
sat in the Tagore theatre
and an old man with a flowing white beard
sat next to him.
The Anthem was being played.
the rest stood up.
these two remained seated.
the black man asked the bearded gentleman,
“who da fuck’re you, man?”
the saintly man said,
“I’m Tagore..and who art thou?”
the black man said,
“I’m Bob Marley and I stand up only for my rights.”
HOW TO LYNCH A MAN
it’s really simple.
what you need first is a man,
preferably alone, poor or looking poor,
carrying no weapons and exhausted from work,
starving, and apparently belonging to a lower caste
or a muslim.
next you need a slogan.
it could be anything from har har mahadev
to jai durga or jai bajrang bali ki,
or even a modern one like bharat chodo
or go matha ki raksha karo.
next you need a reason.
this is the easiest part for reasons are aplenty
and you just need to pick one.
go matha is again handy.
the lynching is a bit dicey for a beginner
but after one or two outings you become an expert
hit his shoulders with a rod
and his knees with a log
which will make him crumple and
show weepy eyes to the news channels.
let him have his moment of glory.
then keep on hitting his torso
till he wriggles and screams.
then bring out the big knives
this part the veterans will do
chop his body at select places to put him out of action.
when he stops moving
turn his body with two or three kicks
and unzip your pyjama and pee in his mouth.
he will still be breathing in the pool of blood.
now douse him with kerosene.
throw a light on him.
step back to view your fiery installation
with the eye of an artist.
wait, he says something.
step close to hear him say in burning agony
“mother fuckers motherfuckers
burn in hell.”
turn to the crowd and
look he repented
he just shouted “vande mataram.”
THE SNOW GIRLS
The battle lines were drawn up.
The snow girls with books in backpacks.
The olive green troopers with guns.
An eagle perched on a white cloud
relayed the proceedings to Times Now.
A snow leopard in distant mountains
stopped its hunt and waited.
Even a Yak in Tibet stopped its grazing
and looked towards the west.
A Bollywood film crew shooting a song
packed up and left.
The world grew still.
The Dal lake grew still.
The waters in Jhelum paused.
In far away Kerala,
people waited for the channel debates to begin.
A hail of bullets mowed down the white harvest.
The olive green troopers advanced.
Each girl who fell held a red flower soaked in blood.
And a handkerchief on which was embroidered,
With Love from Kashmir.
About the poems
The poems here generally exhibit anger against the current state of affairs in the Indian State which is ruled by a political party wedded to its fascist notion of a Hindu nation which at the same time is a State that is so bewilderingly subservient to neo capitalist formulations that also encourage crony capitalism in a major way. The poems also speak against the political positions taken by the State in the case of self determination of the minorities and its antagonistic attitudes towards the marginalized people and poor farmers.
‘Snow Girls’ is a study of the army occupation of Kashmir and their confrontation with the school girls who pelt stones. ‘How to lynch a Man’ details a lynching of the kind done by the Sangh parivar hooligans. ‘Anthem’ is against the imposition of the singing of the National Anthem in theatres and a brief discussion between Tagore (who wrote the Anthem) and Bob Marley, the Jamaican reggae singer. ‘The Bullet Train’ is a poem against the killing of Gowri Lankesh in the context of the new Indo-Japanese Bullet Train project. The word bullet is used as a common metaphor. ‘The Man with the solar brain’ is a take on the recent farmers’ long march from Nasik to Mumbai. ‘The Arithmetic of Protest’ is on a different plane because it discusses how even our protests are pre-determined by group and party affiliations and the lonely man protesting on the street goes unnoticed.
Ra Sh (Ravi Shanker N) lives and writes from Palakkad, Kerala, and his poems in English have been published in many international and national online journals. His poems are collected in the anthology A Strange Place Other Than Ear Lobes and collection Architecture of Flesh published by Poetrywala, Mumbai. He has also been actively translating stories and poems from Malayalam and Tamil to English and vice versa, notable ones being Mother Forest, Waking is Another Dream, Don’t Want Caste.