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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 

sprouting excavators

perhaps it hides in the voices

that lend themselves to answer

when asked

how often did you die

why do your buried harvests rise

like mosquito bumps

pricking the sleeping land

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.

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