01 January 1970

Poems: I Am Not Untouchable

'I am not an untouchable; but, better you ask your own soul if you are worth touching,' pens the poet.

A man under a tree...
A man under a tree... Samit Das

The rose land

My mother said
not to go to the pastures
through the rose farms

As I carelessly crossed them
the tenderness of roses
stained my parched skin
with the petals and thorns

I was walking into the wind
blowing from our mango tree

I walked through the grassy ridges
staring at the distant flowers 
blossoming in our land 

The cool air touches like a newborn.
I notice blood on my hand 
and sweat under the neck and armpits;
they gave out a scent that I can't understand.

To carve the roots of green
to protect the identity of the land
my parent's shadows were buried beneath 
the pieces of conch and shells
were dancing in the air beside the corn stalks.

Counting the footsteps of some deers, 
picking the feathers of peacocks,
I reach the middle of our farm
under the mango tree's shade
I stand beneath a branch
and offer feathers to a stone.
We call it a goddess.

Then I
throw my glance at insects,
they are fighting for flowers

The enchantment of flowers
erases the mountains and trees,
unknowingly I turned into a statue of a scent
for the butterflies and honeybees.

The flowers in our field seem like roses 
I feel tenderness in me,
bewildered at the magic 

After a few hours
The noon turned into a light pink
The water stored in the field pits
the petals float that my mother burnt 
years ago when she set fire to my book

I felt strange 
farmland wears the new dress
with the colourful wings of insects
same as like our Banjara women do

I do not move, peeping trying to escape
the rose magic

What will be done to a rose?
on banjara land 
the tribe don't care about roses
"only green is beautiful to us"

I am not an untouchable 

I am not an untouchable; 
but, better you ask 
your own soul if you are 
worth touching. 

The air you breathe
is dampened with 
our blood and sweat.

The house you sleep in, 
each brick of its wall
has the traces of our hands — 
not only those, 
but also the book of history
of rocks and trees

The food you eat
has been thrived in our flesh, 
and excrement, 
of our animals and children. 

I have touched everything 
before you ever did.

(Ramesh Karthik Nayak (b. 1997) is a BANJARA (Nomadic aboriginal community in South Asia) writer from India. He is one of the first writers to depict the lifestyle of the Banjara tribe in literature. His writings appeared in Exchanges: Journal of Literary Translation - University of IOWA and Poetry at Sangam.)