Khairlanji 2016

An early preparation for the nationwide commemoration of its tenth anniversary that will commence shortly


Into the mosaic of atrocities: and the atrocity of being in such a mosaic:

A sociologist exploring the intersectionality
of gender, law, caste and postcoloniality, calls me
and says she wants to organise a two-day conference on Khairlanji
for the oncoming tenth anniversary of the atrocity
I can’t help it if it all rhymes—perhaps that’s the way history sings
when Navayana is asked to collaborate with a private university
built with the money made by impoverishing adivasis
If you feel strongly about it, speak loudest of your own complicity
for the need to parade guilt as historical necessity is a good deflection strategy
(To those late to the story, here’s a link to wiki
and here, to the book we published—let me plug, oh let me, let me)


Everyday life is just dull prose, invariably
When told as it is—just ordinary—
it stakes a claim, immodestly, to the condition of poetry
(read Lionel Fogarty—who jabs at the meanings of words ranged neatly by Aussies—
sorry, some footnotes sneak into the body
even if they present themselves parenthetically, hyperlinkedly)
In my lightened head, I’ve also to carry the idea of Rahul Soni
sweating in Jodhpur, reading my poetry, telling me frankly
that I must watch out for the overuse of the sound eee
It seems to ring in his head annoyingly, persistently
Chastised, I drop a few from my last poem, hastily
I now try to focus simply on the telling of the story
and tell myself what I shall tell him this time, with the force of rhyme:


For Kashmir, bloody Kashmir, I’d made up a thumri: me-too restlessly
My friend Arif Pari told me it was bahut buri, done so badly
The eee of the buri stayed as a shard of sound in my heart, heavy
However hard I sing freedom, I’m a happy slave to an affected sensibility


An interlude enforced by an anticipatory thumri:

I’ve never really had your love
but I’ve already prepared myself to let go of you:
When I finally touch you, will you transcend the words
you will write about the touch, and touch me
once, just once, without the garment of words?
Will you give me your breath at the time of love?
Will you give me the salt of your sweat kissed by the moon-swelled sea?
Will you let me fade with the note your being will sing, even if vulnerably?
Will you let me lie in the last light you’ll see before you sleep?
Will you let me be the first thing you’ll see when you wake by my side?

On this earth, sleep during the day, and keep a vigil on the night


Will we ever tire of wondering how we divert ourselves with poetry
and rhymes that are plain silly, toasted in the lap of unearned, forced leisureli
ness, and the laziness that comes with it, free?

In this mangled mosaic of atrocities, we’ll learn to make love on a wide bed of blood
And we’ll gape as always at the infidel sun that abandons us every night
only to return every morning, swearing upon its own light new lies about constancy


Sunday, 7 August 2016, New Delhi

featured image : details from “Khairlanji” by Savi Sawarkar from the first edition cover of Anand Teltumbde’s Khairlanji: A Strange and Bitter Crop (Navayana 2008).


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S. Anand Written by:

S. Anand is a poet and the publisher of Navayana and the co-author of Finding My Way.

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