By Saswat Pattanayak It was more than a coincidence that Sahir Ludhianvi was born on an International Women’s Day. His concern and respect for women was as much personal as it was political. For him, no one – and nothing – was more important than his mother Sardar Begum. Resenting her husband’s feudal properties, his mother had left that household and raised Sahir on her own. And Sahir grew up as an organic revolutionary against landlords and burgeoning capitalism of that era. And more importantly, as a progressive poet deeply aware of the capitalistic exploitations of women and the working class. An avid reader of Marx, Sahir early on was influenced by Faiz and Josh – prominent communist poets of that era. His early compositions included “Jahaan Mazdoor Rehte Hai” [Where Workers Reside]. In 1937, Sahir joined All India Students Federation (AISF), affiliated to the Communist Party of India (CPI) – committed to anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggles. He was expelled from both the colleges (in Ludhiana and Lahore) that he attended, due to his political …
Won’t the new year notice any difference
shall we keep on penalizing dissidence?
Call fellow travelers aliens, illegals, refugees
– or, with our inhumanity exposed
we can reattempt unity amidst diversities?
Modified – Dadri – Knock knock Who’s there? Your neighbor My neighbor who? Neighbor to trust – Godman – Knock knock Who’s there? Your Baba My Baba who? Baba, God, Man – Leader – Knock knock Who’s there? Your leader My leader who? Leader you can fear – Tolerance – Knock knock Who’s there? Your fan My fan who? Fanning a plane ticket – Patriot – Knock knock Who’s there? Your conscience My conscience who? Herr Herr Modi – Saswat Pattanayak, Peoples’ Poet, 2015
What about the promises this new year shall bring Ballads of scrutiny, merciless calendar sings Memories slurping away, with bitter windtongues Cruel time ticking away, sans any arbitrary stops Moments of endless reflections, for the years past us Stunning silence of missing airplanes, roaring blunders What if this, what if that, had we tried our best Could we have ended this bloody war, that electoral race A patriotic bunch in India murdering Gandhi again Revitalized danger, right wing fascist men Third World Project a dying form of irrelevance Playground for capitalists, turf for deathly dance Irreparable losses of beloved poets and thinkers too Baraka, Seeger, Stuart Hall, Marquez and Maya Angelou Decomposed pens, gloomy monotones, assessing the future Racist cops, hopeless masses, Millions March for better Have the twain already met, since the east seems like west Signboard reads; One united world take this radical test: When the monopolists unite across divisions they create Is working class too fragmented to effectively protest? Translucent agendas besieging chroniclers of history Russia, China and Iran appear to be …
Murder the Indigenous Slaughter those turkeys Thank the Indigenous Pardon that turkey No thanks Kill the dissenters Land of freedoms Celebrate survivors Build more prisons No thanks Demand gratitudes Columbus to Obama In lieu of guns, drones Such Thanksgiving drama. No thanks – Saswat Pattanayak, Peoples’ Poet, 2014 (Published in Gossamer)