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Mainstream, VOL LV No 19 New Delhi April 29, 2017

Protesting

Sunday 30 April 2017

I’m a poor mortal dwelling in a city ghetto,

working hard for a living all day long;

what I earn suffices only for daily needs.

Induced by a fellow dweller next door,

I take part in rallies to augment income.

The return is not bad: free transport,

food packet and a fixed amount of money

just for the sit-in till the end of the day.

 

On rally days I’m taken to the big ground

where I squat with others in an enclosure,

listening to full-mouthed rosy promises,

raising slogans, clapping hands in applause

till the last speaker delivers his speech;

and, then, I come back home, tired, bored.

But I find I make almost the same money,

sitting in the venue, as I do working all day.

 

Rallies, processions, demonstrations continue.

Strangely, I start feeling a sort of change

taking place within me: a voice articulating.

I refuse to acquiesce in the outside world,

wanting to say something loudly, protesting,

demanding that I’m heard, my wants met.

I steadily come to believe: to protest is to live, 

propelling life’s eternal struggle to move ahead.

—A.K. Das