Who Will Answer To Us, Sir?

A poem that shames the destroyers of adivasi culture. Translated from Hindi by Bhumika Chawla D’Souza.

Sarna flag is not just a flag but the whole life of Adivasi society(Artwork by Dr Anju Kumar Sahu)

How deeply you get hurt

That when a temple, mosque, or church is destroyed You keep for centuries alive

The flames of revenge and grudges.

But to those, to whom forests are a sacred space, Who will answer for their destruction, Sir?

For ages, you’ve been at this business of ‘religion’.

But those outside your purview, They know their forests, worship them, It’s where they live and where they die.

How dare you barge into

Their sacred spaces with your boots? Those countless lives of innocents

That you have taken in the name of progress: Sir! Who will answer for them?

Those living in the hills and forests, They’re not rustic castaways,

But Adivasis, the first dwellers. Why, on their own native land,

Do you turn them into untouchable castaways?

Why with your sundry beliefs and faiths Do you keep coming this way?

And if you must come

Why bulldoze their culture and religion with your own?

You have been in cahoots in every age With those who destroy their sacred space Pray tell, Sir, who indeed will answer

For all this loot and plunder?

What kind of religion is yours?

At each other’s throats you are forever. And Nature, who feeds and nurtures you, Even her you would not spare?

We will fight to the end of days Against this very culture of yours.

But just let us know,

This earth that has been destroyed, Who will answer for that, Sir?

(Dedicated to the indigenous peoples of India, the Amazon and around the world, fighting to save their jungles).

Translated from Hindi by Bhumika Chawla D’Souza