Election Time in Bengal

A leader has come to grace the town

Poles, bars are tied with party flags

People wear a festive look,

Hymns fill the air of tea shops, bazaars, malls

Policemen hurry and scurry

Corners and roadsides are empty

Aliens and outsiders are pushed to the town’s edges

Life-size cutouts, posters, flags,

Boards and festoons are on every hand—

Parents guarding NEET centres

Beggars keep on begging

Harlots keep faith in the morning rays

Scrap collectors collecting tins and tarp

Masons are building blocks for Babus

Flower-sellers are readying for the day

Aam admis are waiting in an endless queue for

A look at god’s escort rally

Roads, lanes, and by-lanes are closed

Fields filled with sweaty faces, frail limbs

 Khakis on sides with nylon ropes in hand

A meal and a flag

A booth is safe; a panchayat seat won,

A Banerjee has come

A Bhattacharjee will win

A Chatterjee will rule for days to come

And hamid, sarif, haradhon, mahato

Will kill mates in god’s name

Or catch a south-bound train

Or rot at home

(Previously published in Indian Periodical on 4 June 2023)

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Freevoice

I write because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, said George Orwell. As a writer, I never kowtow to the whims and dictates of the sacred godmen or godwomen, the political bigots and hypocrites, dealers of laymen, the dishonest and self-serving intellectuals, traders of religions, the betrayers of ‘other’ Indians who eke out a living by their sweat, who are living in fear for being lynched for this and that.

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