i met a man in a thek in Salboni
at the helm of a sprawling Sal forest.
we drank together for hours and hours
and as the haria with its milkwhite
tentacles slithered into my brain
strings of words slurred out like
peacocks brandishing feathers.
i narrated my whole life to him like
coins being poured out of a jar. i told him
all kinds of things, wonderful experiences,
adventures sprawled across an entire atlas.
it really makes you think about life, you know?
i told him about that time i went to europe
and turned instantly into a pot of gold. i told him
about wild parties full of mirth and messy
anecdotes with friendly neighbourhood police vans.
you gotta be there to believe it, i said. it was
really quite something.
then he told me his stories.
memories of Kalaboni, of Salboni,
of Lodhasuli and Laukhapra,
of Jitusol and Lalgarh
and the massacres of Jungal Mahal.
he told me about his people,
working the fields with bullet holes in their hearts.
friends who were murdered, raped,
minds shrouded scarlet with terror
and left like animal carcasses on the highway.
the CRPF sets an example for
the undeserving people of Jungal Mahal.
to chisel into stone the
hukum of the state:
you are shit under my shoe.
you are powerless,
you are disposable,
and we are your enemy.
so what could he do to escape those
who build fly ash palaces
out of the flesh of kisans?
well, he and his family of six
they ran deep into the sal forests
and they hid for weeks on end
with nothing to eat
and nowhere to live
and nothing to drink
the fucking dew
that settled on sal leaves
at the crack of their balding jungle's
vengeful, napalm dawn.
these memories simmer constantly in his veins
like grapes ferment to form wine
and i will drink his red haria willingly.
this was made for United Students' Democratic Front, the student wing of the PLGA (Peoples' Liberation Guerrilla Army), an indigenous army consisting of farmers, hunter-gatherers and radical students fighting the State of India, to keep their forest alive and away from mining moguls, rapist cops and corrupt politicians.
learn more here :
a must-read, as written by Arundhati Roy: https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/walking-with-the-comrades/264738
thek: a traditional place where people generally sell and consume homemade alcohol.
haria: rice-beer, a common drink found in India's countryside.
all these words are Bengali words. and this poem is based on a true story.