Those who want to move up in society
hold fear and caution in their hearts.
They also hold in their feet the art of climbing mountains
and fording rivers.
And yet, we, who chose to rise,
become companions of hill spirits.
To rise above caste
we need the blessings of the hill spirits.
That is the reason why
we tried to cross the stream
between the hill and the plain.
There were no boats. The river spirits had burnt them all.
The oars lay scattered on the soft sands.
We tried to escape caste
but were bound and helpless.
The fair skinned river monsters returned.
They gave us boats and the route up the hills.
We saw the sea and an alien wet earth.
We placed our rights over mind, intellect and land
on the shoulders of the fair people —
they were our guardians now.
One day, we rose above society — we lost
roots, identities, lands, rivers, ourselves.
One day, we rose in society but were again
bound in the web of centuries of chain.
The fair guardians were the centres now
and we were calm dots somewhere in their perimeter.
Ask history. History knows.
The poem is an excerpt from the author’s new book Postcolonial Poems, published by Red River publication.
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