Friday, May 20, 2022

"I Am An Anti-National…Count Me Out"

In the name of patriotism, do not demand my complicity for your endless crimes. I want to secede from this sickness

I am an Agmark 100% anti-national. I am an anti-national. Please go ahead and prepare a prison cell for me. Keep in mind that I have a slight preference for solitary confinement. I do not want to play the role of cheerleader for a caste society that massacres an entire Dalit village in one night, a police force that colludes in such killing, a political system that justifies these atrocities, a court mafia that allows oppressor-caste culprits to walk away and a nation that allows this nightmare to happen again and again. I want to secede from this sickness.

A nation of mass graves in Kashmir and mass rapes in Bastar can cease to exist. The murders by your military and paramilitaries hold your India together, and since this puffs you up with pride, I wish funeral dirges replace your national anthem. The change in music will change your appreciation of the situation.

For a poem about the father of this nation, I had my books burnt. I no longer address Gandhi in poetry, I resort to the coarsest curses that my mother-tongue provides. Advertised as India’s greatest freedom fighter, his killers today call themselves India’s greatest patriots.

The Constitution may be celebratory, but at the end of a day, its implementation depends on a judiciary that quotes and upholds the Manusmriti. I have nothing but utter contempt for these courts and criminal jurisprudence that targets Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims.

This is the glorious nation whose farmers are pushed to suicide, whose workers are beaten up on factory floors, whose university campuses are laid siege by the police. Banks here exist for the sake of corporates who control the state. In the India where the 1% owns more than half the wealth, national pride is available on a supermarket shelf.

Soaked in the blood of each of the girl children who were not allowed to be born—and that is one woman like me killed for every ten men you see in this country of a billion people—the Indian tricolour has lost its moral fibre. Nation of female genocide, no flag can cover your shame.

I wish to have nothing to do with the idea of an Indian nation. In the name of patriotism, do not demand my complicity for your endless crimes. Count me out.

Meena Kandasamy is a poet, writer, activist and translator. Her work focuses on caste annihilation, linguistic identity and feminism. She has published two collections of poetry, Touch (2006) and Ms Militancy (2010). Her first novel, The Gypsy Goddess was published by Atlantic Books (UK) and HarperCollins India in 2014.

(The views expressed in the Freedom Series are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of ‘Outlook’ magazine or its journalists.)