1. मातृभाषा की मौत/ Matrabhasha ki Maut/ Death of the Mother Tongue
In the very mouth of Mother
Mother tongue was imprisoned
and children grew up
demanding her release.
Mother tongue had not died naturally
She had been assassinated.
But Mother never came to know this.
Before the possibilities that showed
Dreams of rotis
For her children
Mother had clenched her teeth
And beneath the dreams of those morsels
Mother tongue was crushed.
Mother believes even today
That the death of the Mother tongue
Was a mere accident.
2. क्यों महुए तोड़े नहीं जाते पेड़ से?/ Kyon Mahue Tode Nahi Jate Ped Se?/ Why the Mahua is not Plucked from the Tree?
Mother, why do you wait all night
for the mahua to drop?
Why don’t you not
just pluck all the mahua from the tree?
Mother says –
They live in the womb all night long.
When the time for their birth comes
They fall by themselves to the earth.
At dawn, when they’re soaked in the dew
We pick them up and bring them home.
When the tree is going through
Labor pains all night long
Tell me, how I can
shake the branch hard?
Say, how I can forcibly
pluck the mahua from a tree?
We just wait
Because we love them.
3. प्रार्थना का समय/ Prarthna Ka Samaya/ Time for Prayer
For a long time we’ve been told
That the cause of hunger, disease, and poverty
Is a lack of faith in God.
‘Why in this vast crowd
The best part of the better crop
In the stomachs of a handful of people?’
They responded —
‘They are the Chosen Ones on this Earth.’
The food due to many
Is stuck in the bellies of a few
For several days.
This is the miracle of God!
But what about those who remain?
Sickness and hunger is the price they must pay
For not proving true to the faith.
When it was time
For us to stand together
Against the injustices
That were being committed against us
We came out in thousands
With our children.
Leaving behind our forests
We turned towards the prayer hall.
All day long we sat there
Staring blankly at the preachers.
Generations turned but not our conditions.
And then, we were told –
‘Transformation demands sacrifice’
So we emptied our pockets
And sacrificed everything
Our soil and our language.
The congregation kept screaming –
Miracles happen from above.
So we lifted up our closed eyes
While the roots of the illnesses lay below.
With folded hands we prayed for transformation
And thus we learned
How to join our hands unquestioningly.
We were torn apart –
When half the people took to the streets
We kept praying
And looking to the future
For, we were told
Heaven is somewhere out there.
Then defeated one day
We gathered to discuss
How enough is enough –
That we must rise
Against our predicament –
Right now, at this time
For the future is here
Right here, in this moment.
From many different directions
In many different voices
The bells gonged
To declare –
‘The Gathering is over,
It’s time for prayer.’
4. समय की सबसे सुन्दर तस्वीर/ Samaya ki Sabse Sundar Tasveer/ The Most Exquisite Portrait Of Time
That society in which
the womanhood in a man
is murdered bit by bit
the woman inside that man
is also only able to save herself
by running and finding refuge
in a university.
It’s only in a university
where the youth
while studying history, geography, math
learn to change the world
and step out of their homes
not only for their own
but also for the rights of others.
Slowly they learn to become
from man to human
They begin to know and understand
as more than just bodies.
The youth of the university
raise their voices for the rights of man
Save a man from becoming
a machine for the system
Explain life’s reason to the man
who like a corpse
goes from home to office
and from office to home.
In a soulless society
which teaches men to violate women in gangs
And stays silent after each woman’s murder
Where the ritual continuing for centuries
requires that women studying and fighting together
in a university
surround the man to save him
from the cruel sticks of the police.
Only the university
can offer the example
of making a better world.
Only from the university can emerge the image
that beautifies this earth –
The most exquisite portrait of time.
5. जब वह प्यार करता है/ Jab Wah Pyar Karta Hai/ When He Loves
When an ordinary man
Is in love with someone
He loves everything about her
Her speech, her silence
Her laugh, sadness, joy
He starts loving everything
That she loves even a little bit.
But what’s going on these days
When anyone claims
He loves someone
That same man is scared.
That whenever anyone makes a claim about loving
Someone is always killed.
Whoever declared they loved a woman—
She was killed.
Said that girls should be safe—
They quickly became victims of rape.
Said rivers will be cleaned—
They were polluted even more.
Said trees would be protected—
Jungles were handed over to the lumberjacks.
Declared love for nature—
She was disfigured even more.
And what did he do himself?
He joined the killers and laughed.
Now when some are
They love this country
Then that man is scared again, worrying—
Behind this shield of love
What all will they do with this country?
To whom will they sell it?
Against whom they will spread hatred?
Who will get murdered?
When an ordinary man
He is unable to reveal his love
Even after many efforts.
Today that same man is scared of each man
Who comes out on the streets
Screaming his love
For this country.
6.सहयात्री/ Sahyatri/ Co-travelers
Look my marriage has been hanging there
for several years
Like a medal on the wall
And you emerge occasionally from behind that medal
Like a guest.
Once I used to think
In love I have become you and you I
But one morning your I woke up and went its own way
And my I was left somewhere here stranded
Writhing in pain that
We couldn’t become ‘we.’
What did I want?
I had desired, that you walk alone
That I, too, could walk alone
And even then we could walk together.
I wanted to see the world from the eyes of man
And I wished you could come to see me
From the eyes of woman
Sometimes you could know me like me
Sometimes I could know you like you
And sometimes both of our eyes
Could look at something at once
And jump together with joy!
But walking you remained
And I too became a traveler.
I wonder why
With our journeys
We could not become
7. मैं पुरुष पैदा नहीं होता/ Main Purush Paida Nahi Hota/ I Don’t Get Birthed A Man
I don’t get birthed a man
This world makes me man
The womanhood inside me
Is killed slowly since childhood
This is how gets chiseled
8. क्यों काटे जाते हैं पेड़/ Kyon Kate Jate Hain Ped?/ Why Are Trees Cut Down?
They want to drag the trees
into the mainstream
But do trees uprooted from their land
ever become mainstreamed?
This is why trees are cut down.
9. पृथ्वी हो जाता हूँ/ Prithvi Ho Jata Hoon/ I Become Earth
Revolving all around you
I become earth
And bits of me
10. इंतज़ार/ Intezaar/ Waiting
They are waiting for us to become civilized
And we are waiting for them to become human.
11. पहाड़ों के लिए/ Pahadon Ke liye/ For the Mountains
Those who sell their honesty
For bits of money
Can hardly understand
Why some people give their lives
For the mountains.
12. स्त्रियां जब लड़ती हैं/ Striyaan Jab Ladti Hain/ When Women Fight
When men fight
They leave behind everything and
Just walk away
Go the border
Come out in the street.
But what do women do
When they fight?
Fighting they safeguard everything
the men have left behind
Fighting they raise their children
They love the men
So when they do not return
The women descend into the streets
And transform themselves
Into an indefinite strike.
13. धूल में खेलती लड़की/ Dhool Mein Khelti Ladki/ Girl Playing in Dust
One day she was dragged away from the children
who played in dust and mud.
She asked why she couldn’t play with them anymore
She was told that those with whom she was playing
games of house, lentils and rice
are all boys, and she a girl.
The parrot-faced piggy bank
from where she’d taken out all the money
And walked afoot for half an hour to the fair
To buy the pot, wok, bowl, and plate
made out of clay
Were all thrown away in a corner
And she started cleaning
real plate, glass, pot.
People kept saying –
Look, what a sweet girl
The kind of girl everyone wants
Who can wash the polluted vessels of the entire household
Day and night
Sweep the floor and cook rice for all.
From the screen of the window she looked
The boys with whom she once played
All of them were growing up
Coming of age
With a plump little baby girl playing in her lap
Only she was left behind somewhere
Dreaming of playing again in dust
Making homes in sand, cooking rice in the mud.