7 min read

‘Whose name do I dare not utter?’ Lucilius cried: ‘Who cares

whether the noble Consul forgive my libel or not?’

But name an Imperial favourite, and you’ll blaze, a human torch,

bound upright, half-choked, half-grilled, your calcined carcase

leaving a broad black trail as it’s dragged across the sand.

- Juvenal, Satires 

It’s known to all which skill improves with trying

Finding out who to lie to or who’s lying;

Yet, or so, people fail to comprehend

Who is pretending and who is a friend.

What else but the journalist’s expertise

Could bring this vexing crisis to its knees,

But it’s also known what’s easier done

Between killing them and becoming one. 

Whoever said Truth will always prevail!

Must’ve been famous for thinking from their tail

For if they thought it right to use their head

We would have truer idioms instead

Something like There's no hope that you can clutch;

Sure, truth might be mighty, but not as much.

Or Truth’s hardly precious though it might seem gold

What’s truly precious can’t be bought and sold.

As now the age of misreporters is,

Of incumbency’s amanuenses,

Who, for a stake in power, or lesser bribe,

Will become any benefactor’s scribe. 

All those familiar with their deceptive deed

Are aware of the content of their creed; 

It’s unknown who first issued this advice 

By which modern reporters do abide: 

“Misinformation is a useful thing 

To hide failures of an impotent king; 

Should you wish to bolster a tyrant’s pair, 

Imaginary successes prepare; 

Exposés, true or false, are helpful plots 

To silence voices challenging despots. 

Once you have your audience by their necks 

You need not rely on exhausting tricks; 

Why would you endeavour to lies invent 

When you can tell half-truths with bad intent?” 

Truth-benders, scattered fog-like far and wide,

Shrouding daylight by inflating stupid pride,

Have made once sunny world so densely grey

The false night now admits no reason’s ray.

During day, a tyrant “What a night!” may bleat;

“What a night!” His loyal subjects will repeat,

Then add, in their zeal to impress their king,

“Darkening down the day is no easy thing!

Don’t suspect the ableness of our lord,

Not almighty, our leader is merely god.” 

The same reckless tricks all of them apply

Inviting brands to bed only to lie;

Compare foreign asses with domestic mule

And show how despots other nations rule;

They tell how oppressed other nations are

And how our only solution is war.

When they’re not lamenting the foreign fate

They turn to grill another party’s state;

They reveal how the opposition errs,

Citing the mistakes of their emperor.

Tricksters so expertly mislead the sense

They can make the trivial seem immense,

They can convince the masses they’re under threat

From all those who injustices protest;

If you challenge the unjust status quo

They’ll ask you to another planet go;

Those the emperor’s nakedness can see

Are charged with and maligned for heresy.

Pity, when lies secure sincere reception

Truth’s allies are accused of deception. 

It’s often hard resisting a liar’s charm

And therein lies its common, potent harm:

Like opium into its hunger it feeds,

Consumed enough it soon becomes the need.

If drugs be used for necessity’s sake

Who says that peddlers themselves don’t partake?

The addict I refer to is one such

He can’t stand his voice without narcotic crutch

Which may explain why he must always shout

To bypass his hearing or go sense without.

Like a gormint employee, lucked out in life,

Who comes home drunk to scold and beat his wife

Shit-faced Suzie, oppressed by home, on cable

Comes to screamly beat his chest and table.

Since he can bark, huff, howl, whine, he insists,

“Look! The freedom of expression exists!”

Then forgets to respect another’s right —

With junkies, confusion is a common plight.

People’s opinions he has purloined

And has several distasteful phrases coined

Like where he confounds the nation with his self

So that on people’s behalf he can yell.

He must have the public’s pulse under his thumb

How else does he their sense and judgment numb?

How did he find it? You needn’t even ask;

Shooting nonsense up own’s is his daily task.

Dumraj Chillvish, the dark lord of abuse,

Is rarely sober for want of an excuse

To peddle potent nonsense in place of news.

His ill-fangled form of prime time debate

Bigots love to watch, others love to hate;

There he only dogs and donkeys invites

To stage a bloody quarrel every night

Thus, in front of the expectant masses,

He a prior perversion surpasses.

Oh, Empathy! Look how you are being killed!

Fantasies of brutes are sooner fulfilled.

Brutes, yes! That they are humans, who can say?

To my knowledge humans neither bark nor bray.

As a second opinion let’s assume

What he peddles himself he doesn’t consume;

That the only reason every night he roars

Is that’s how you can reach the deaf and dumb crores;

By some wild chance, if ever this be true,

God help His Highness and his viewers too. 

His example has spurred many a fool,

Sell-out disciples of his nasty school;

Monkeys all, they have learnt to stand upright

And anchor their own circus every night.

When many heads comprise big media’s fame

Should one reporter shoulder all the blame? 

Who, by face and work, resembles a ball

That exists in a field to be kicked by all?

Who, in a constant struggle with his fate,

Prefers being a screw-all than a celibate?

Midfield anchor, always seen in offence,

Playing against his viewer’s intelligence,

Who changes his stance, rolling faster than light,

A troll by day and a journalist by night?

It’s Goalu! – When faced with a better troll

Mister is sooner found shifting his goal;

When his victim returns his feeble kicks

He falls back on defensive rhetoric.

It’s already very hard to lampoon

Someone bent on acting like a buffoon,

It becomes even more difficult after

He’s been established as the face of laughter.

This second hate-monger who daily flits

From one lie to the next, is a better fit

To leave society and go live among

The beetles also known to deal in dung;

For he’s already lived a modern dream

Having been immortalised in a meme,

Second and fourth letters now spell his fame:

Can one say “pimp” without thinking his name? 

Reverse detectives first a theory make

Then many proofs from fiction’s field they rake;

Such bright sleuths who can awful plots divine

Looking through stupid lenses at made-up signs

Are many, but none is better than he

Who bared Muslim invasion in UPSC.

My friends, be wary of such gifted gents

Who to gain TRPs slaughter your sense.

Like his brothers he plays jingoist tracks

But surpasses all in how much wit he lacks;

In the race of wits, the rest are halfway on,

Not him: he competes with himself alone. 

Then there’s one channel with that surgeon's knack

Who leaves scalpel inside his own buttcrack,

One would think that'd be all to out his wrongs,

But no! – Quacks pick halfwits to thrive among.

Since the only skill they need is deceit

Honest conduct would mean a wretched feat;

Yet, this channel has graded fittingly

Its own worth, on a scale from A to Z.

A wonder, indeed! But can one forgive

The way it creates monstrous narratives

By broadcasting as fact doctored content?—

Before proceeding, let's commend the gent:

The head physician on the mothership

Who once diagnosed new notes with nano-chips;

He, the possessor of the keenest sight,

Can spot jihad without the aid of light;

Even without a stethoscope around

He can detect an anti-national sound;

If recent X-rays do not a lie support,

He pulls out old, foreign, or forged reports.

Of his hateful lectures idiots are fond

As his treatment of patients exists beyond

The intersection of nuance and science;

Since he never joins these parallel lines

His logic appeals to every simple ass

(He's revered by the country's middle-class);

"Hindu patients wait; Muslim patients hide!"

He once declared – and no one was surprised.

"Sick Muslims equal a terrorist plot!"

But when it’s his colleagues then it is not;

Should a people better option elect

He quickly brands them a corrupted sect:

“You’re freeloaders all!” he had once decried

Like a dog whining over his wounded pride.

A varsity a tumour he decreed

Of gross delusion he thus sowed the seed

Students’ protests as some malignant ploys

He explained one night, condemning some boys;

A country in patriotism’s thrall

Still thirsts to raze universities all.

The quack misleads us time and time again

My friends! When will we stop trusting such men? 

If men mislead, can women be far behind?

They’re equally, if not more, full of wind.

Take the case of that dangerous disgrace

Who sports an untuned bagpipe for a voice;

Who’ve shut their ears and brains till further use

Think her baseless, tone-deaf concert is news;

Only those made of confusion and gas

Think noise is music, her show substance has.

Her favourite instruments to play are goofs;

She thrives on unpicking illicit proofs.

After all it's true, unless we forget,

Together, Madam and Peeve, her noisy pet –

Who isn't inclined to waste the nation’s time –

Lured people’s attention to a made-up crime.

How media, let it be never forgot,

Kept a tragic shipwreck senselessly afloat

Shamelessly blowing on a tattered sail,

They got a guiltless woman sent to jail

But not before slandering her name to hell,

And that of her friends and family as well;

They milked entertainment out of her grief

Leaving her crushed, broken like an autumn leaf.

Never forget that a young victim’s corpse

Was reduced to one of big media’s props;

Vultures all, tearing flesh off one carcass,

Got their thrill from making the people’s ass.

Remember also in this sickening plot

Madam and Peeve shared a notable spot.

Even the dead are not given a pass

This is the state of media, alas! 

More such creatures exist – but let’s not dwell

On them (who they are, we all know too well). 

Into these channels you should only tune 

If you feel bored with regular cartoons 

For indeed they a brilliant clown invite 

Who sings, claps, dances, and poems recites 

The intellectual peak of Ruling Party 

He is a constant presence on TV; 

He’s brought on to bring a comic relief 

And help the viewers suspend their belief 

About everything that by sense is tied 

So now, unhinged, they can be truth denied. 

From obnoxious gestures that made us wince 

And then some, he has come a long way since. 

From his vile masters, he’s mastered the craft, 

To deflect the truth, just act like a daft. 

But in his case he doesn’t need to act 

Fiction’s a poorer cover for a fact. 

But then again, those things elude the eye 

That exposed in overt nakedness lie. 

Let’s spare some space for that sick, rabid cult 

The actors of, or in themselves, tumult, 

A repulsive disease of internet 

An employment that special Indians get 

A latest class of the government jobs 

That pays for abuses sent and gathered sobs 

Army of cockroaches that hiding crawls 

Made of worthless social media trolls. 

Pathetic though they are, they’re not as bad 

As big media with their loose façade; 

Although, both groups are rascals through and through 

Trolls don’t pretend they’re champions of the truth. 

Let’s stop a while; surely it must be asked: 

Do people ever regret that they’ve basked 

In hatred or are they never aware? 

Are people victims or complicit are? 

Is it not true that the rise of a tyrant 

Occurs when people are extra compliant? 

Granted, in the absence of reason's defence 

Constant rush of nonsense neuters the sense,

Are people not obligated to ensure

If fooled once that they are not fooled once more? 

What dry wood is to a cheerful fire 

Gullible fools are to successful liars; 

What oxygen is to a healthy flame 

Wilful ignorance for liars does the same. 

The people who’ve had their senses dissolved, 

Could never be allowed to be absolved, 

Of ensuring our journey into hell: 

A nation made by people, by them it fell. 

A country can be said to lack reason 

When its students are thrown into prison; 

To meet ruin a country is fated 

Whose activists are incarcerated; 

And that country you know will sooner fail, 

With its poets, scholars, doctors in jail; 

But that country’s already gone to rot 

Whose journalists are often jailed and shot. 

Yet, worse isn't when brave truth-seekers die 

But when traitors of that sacred guild comply 

To make the nation conducive to death 

Of people closely allied to the truth. 

Now must I fear for my life being snuffed?

Hasn't media already done enough? 

Is calling out the present ill such a crime? 

That I be hanged and gutted for my rhymes? 

If that happens, in afterlife, I hope 

I can share a drink with Byron and Pope; 

To them my one regret I will express: 

I shouldn’t have picked the living to address. 

Should I have stuck to insulting the dead? 

Then I could’ve joined big media, instead. 

It’s hard for me to decide which is worse: 

Being killed for drafting an unlucky verse 

Or joining my subject’s immoral ranks? 

In advance, my assassins have my thanks.

Iskander Popaya, a law graduate from SCU, is a small-time baker and a big-time enjoyer of food, poetry, and the dreamscape of his hometown, Chikmagloor. His top three tried-and-tasted combinations include mint mayo and pakode; coffee at the end of a stressful day at cafe; a doobie and Sadhguru's videos.

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