AN EMBLEM NOW
I'm here for a few days, Bapu said
No place now to step--- in this country.
I know my photo hangs in courtrooms
Government Offices and banks
But no place to step--- in your hearts.
I know your wallet is full of notes
With my famous head, some of them forged.
Look, how dark the marks are under my eyes
I'm smeared all over with coatings of corruption.
Surely some ominous plague has seized this country
My head reels even to estimate how badly it is abused.
I know the foreigners admired my eyes, my aquline nose
Broad forehead, my manly chest and strong limbs
I candidly expressed my sex and diced with abstinence
I had long crossed the maze of Indian hypocrisy
And had slept with young women to prove my point
I had many questions to resolve far and wide
I was a leader and fought weaponless wars
I was okay having won many a defeats
I'm here for a few days, I tell you again
If India was a soul for me, it no longer is
I've just become an emblem on stamps and currency notes
I find that I'm still in circulation, thank you!
Truth is experimental as was his life
Truer were his struggles and strife
In South Africa, a civil warrior without anger
A no-nonsense lawyer, activist, a sane avenger
Took beatings and threats without stupid fear
A book changed his life, was it only Tolstoy?
Changed his suits and boots for a strange ploy
To resume his crusade in India, waiting
For a leader, to kill the Goliath with a sling
For he was brave-heart and a shield-less hero
The oppressed country wanted this oarsman to row----
His fiery speeches, his charisma and rustic charms
Mesmerised the masses, no weapon in his arms.
Arm and arms? Arms only to rotate the Charkha
Weave your own clothes, wear Khadi, voiced our nation's pa.
Reads simple; yes he veered towards the frugal
Knowing that his country is poor,ate roti and dal
At his Sabarmati Ashram, the leader-saint
Was solving the riddles of life, morality's taint
Became the whole heart of India and harijans
While the cohorts wined and dined with British fans.
Bapu's clarion calls could only unite the masses
The chosen leader who forced the British lions to eat grasses.
Non-violence was his watch-word, was he Jesus?
Was he Hindu,Muslim,Christian or a cool cool Bindaas?
Boudhayan Mukherjee is a frequent contributor of poetry and travelogues to Outlook, having five published books of poetry books, short stories and translations. Published extensively here and abroad. The latest verse to come out : The Muse Of Software- clad Body. Taught Creative Writing in English at Indira Gandhi National Open University.