Saturday, Oct 01, 2022

Poem: Happy Independence Day

The poem is written in protest against the death of a Dalit boy who was allegedly beaten by his teacher for drinking water from the earthen pot meant for the upper castes in Rajasthan’s Jalore.

Representative image
Representative image Getty Images

Why are you still sleeping, munchkin?
Can't you hear the beating drum?
All are independent again
Independence of killing you in your name.

Why are you not waking up
See the birds flying in the sky
Your friends are playing in the field
Won't you watch them playing,
maintaining a sacred safe distance!

Wake up little boy
Wake up from the sleep
You're not allowed to rest in peace
You have many lessons to learn
Of dos and don'ts.
Stand alone in the separate line
And chant the praising song to the country
Today is Independence Day
Can't you see!

Wake up obstinate boy
See school bell is ringing
Can't you see?
Why are your eyes red, little boy?

Don't wake up, boy
Never, ever feel thirsty again
You're not permitted to be thirsty
Don't wake up child
Sleep, sleep in peace.

Now, you're all secure, dear countrymen 
A dead child will not ask for water again.

(Moumita Alam is a poet from West Bengal, who speaks for marginalised voices.)