after Ganpati Bal Yadav
I do not call myself a peasant writer
salty-throat singer. The many people
looking to warm the dismissal of the self
wrap their chinks dressing
in skins pincered from those
battling to survive birth. Sitting like a
wonton for wrongdoings
and excused in the hope
of blooming. A case of attempted
which slips by like the steerage ghost
watching dancing limbs reanimate
a few thunderstrikes shy of death’s door
and not in a ninety-seven-year-old cyclist
plowing to meet a journalist
poised to unwind his tale from the cobwebs.
the tires have jotted it running
borders underground but we don’t look
for germination here.
and not in the turning circuitry of his pedal
that still holds the clockwork
pre-motorcar urge to be somewhere
as it did when the country turned
its citizens inside out and lay
perhaps it hides in the voices
that lend themselves to answer
how often did you die
why do your buried harvests rise
like mosquito bumps
pricking the sleeping land
Note: This poem was written after P. Sainath’s article on India’s last living freedom fighter, Ganpati Bal Yadav (1920– 2021), published on PARI.
Spatika Jayaram is a student at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, pursuing an Integrated Master’s in biology, who also likes to experiment in writing and poetry. Her writings have been published in Sublunary Review, Verse of Silence, The Alipore Post, Brown Girl Magazine and The New Verse News.