Ink on paper by DHIRAJ CHOWDHURY
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  Two poems  

  Vox
  Vol I : issue 5

  Nirmal Verma
  N.S. Madhavan
  Lal Singh Dil
  Betty LaDuke
  
Arun Kolatkar
  Ashis Nandy

  Only in Print

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Lal Singh Dil

Photo by RAGHU RAI

Evening tide

The evening wears its familiar colours

The foothpaths are walking to the basti

The lake is returning from the office

after being shunted out of work

The lake is quenching its thirst for water

The city is walking towards the villages

Someone has lost all his wages

Another is wiping with his dhoti the

blood off the whip-marks

on weak animals

The evening wears its familiar colours…

They are walking away from land

That belongs to another

carrying their straw baskets

The long caravan is moving on

carrying the burden of rebukes

Along the long shadows

children are riding donkeys

Their fathers have dogs in their arms

Pans hang on the backs of their mothers

Babies are sleeping in these pans

The long caravan is moving on

On their shoulders are the bamboos of their shacks

Who are these Aryans, so starved?

Which India’s land are they

going to conquer?

The young men love the dogs

They know not how to love palaces?

Long starved, they are leaving the

land that belongs to another

The long caravan is moving on

What do they know?

How many are tied to posts

How many burned alive at the stake

Those who cannot leave the basti

The shadows of the basti trees move on

Someone is holding the legs of tired animals

Of tired loves

The long caravan is moving on

The brave tillers of the land walk away

With the burden of shovels on their shoulders

On the wild paths

The love of the fields was murdered last night

Flames rose from the shacks last night

The caravan moves on.

Dance

When the labourer woman

Roasts her heart on the tawa

The moon laughs from behind the tree

The father amuses the younger one

Making music with bowl and plate

The older one tinkles the bells

Tied to his waist

And he dances

These songs do not die

Nor either the dance in the heart…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Introduction The poems

 
Lal Singh Dil was the first member of his low-caste family to finish school. At university, he turned activist and joined the far left Naxalite movement. He now runs a highway tea-stall at Samrala, Punjab, and writes one-line poems to be painted on the back of long-haul trucks