"The Prime Minister comes on TV wearing a mask and only speaks in Hindi": Three poems by Meghna Prakash

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"The Prime Minister comes on TV wearing a mask and only speaks in Hindi": Three poems by Meghna Prakash

Poetry by Meghna Prakash

It’s all a numbers game

In a country of 1,387,297,452 people
42,800 affected with a virus
that has killed 1389 Indians

41st day of lockdown all over India
269 days of lockdown in Kashmir
without the internet. I am tweeting about how

The PM’s international trip costing
22 crores per country
2021 crores spent so far
on international diplomacy
As the country (economy) burns

Like the migrant’s home
40 million migrants in Covid-19 lockdown
200 people killed by hunger

Mothers drowning with their children
In rivers or at the hands of abusive husbands
315 cases of Domestic Violence
reported in April alone.

3 million sex workers affected
The government budget and society
Has screwed them off their money

In this game of snakes and ladders
The privileged are climbing
with poisoned snake tongues

JNU fees hike makes it 60,000 a year
25 students brutally attacked
Protesting for the right to education
0 arrests made so far
Their wings clipped by the Right

200 injured in the Delhi Pogrom
51 people killed, 35 Muslims.
Since when do the dead have faith?
Or are the religious being killed?

Thousands of women sitting in protests
At Shaheen Bagh, now cleared off because
Of the Pandemic.
The clampdown in the guise of a lockdown

It’s all a numbers game.
Your bank account decides
Whether you’re the snake
Or the rat in its belly.

***

Politics

1. There has been no food in the house for 2 days now. The child is wailing, she wants her mother's milk but her mother's breasts are empty, and her face crayoned with purple bruises.

2. Hindus refuse to collect food from Muslim volunteers. Their hunger swelling up their rage.

3. My people got shredded like string cheese and the grater is politics.

4. A grandma holds the Buddhist flag and prayer beads and chants Om Mani Padmeham.

5. The farmer eats plain rice for two months, his vegetables have started to rot.

6. A sex worker walks up to a police officer on the street unafraid of a pandemic. It will kill her slower than starvation.

7. Radha tapes a newspaper over her used sanitary napkin and wears it again. It's either that or her child's pending uniform fees.

8. The Prime Minister comes on TV wearing a mask and only speaks in Hindi. The Tamilians like me are frantically searching for a dictionary.

9. Tap your chest thrice and say 'All is Well', 'Acche Din Aayenge'.

10. I am writing a poem in a used book because there are no fresh pages for my words. It's history repeating itself as I watch the world crack like a beetle nut.

***

Pandemic will Pass

What is home if not our bodies mingling in sweat, your mouth on my mouth, our bodies sliding and twisting, falling into a river, fishes swimming in a small pond, not missing the ocean, making wild love to pass time. Your hands on my waist, I forget that we are chained to a Quarantine in bed.

But the fruits are disappearing, the sun is scorching my skin, and the house is a mess. The sheets are stained, my hands are now wrapped against my knees, I am a slow sigh away from falling apart. I have to see you go to miss you, but we have orders to not leave. I am terrified of the temple sounds of your breathing, I don’t want this love to become a prayer, but it is now a war siren. My flesh only has your flesh to turn to.

rotting apple
a farmer carrying a bag
on hunched shoulders

***

Meghna's work has previously been published in Scroll, Kritya Journal, Ethos Literary Journal, The Swaddle, Half Baked Beans, The Caravan, Why Indian Men Rape, Indian Express, HT. She runs a platform called Poetry Dialogue where she curates poems daily.

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