Bastar

And who are you?
Asks, she, in Gondi
What do you want?
She doesn’t trust
Outsiders like me
Who smile in Hindi
And scowl in English

That night
The hills echoed a Dorli song
About Jal, Jangal, Zameen
A thousand year old tune
Hummed by
Veer Narayan Singh
One last time
In 1857
Till he was hung

Now those words
In Gondi and Dorli
Want to be resurrected
And tell the tale
Of precious ores
Excellently
Extracted
Extruded
Manufactured in international factories
To create an amalgamation of alloys
Unfreedom
Unreason
Unrealities
Offered at a special discount rate
In the bloody memory of a million Adivasis


By Ramu Ramanathan inspired by 12/8 BSN seminar ‘Embattled Bastar: Seeking Answers

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