Jute Skinning

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What are they doing in the ditch?
Are they admiring themselves?
Or are they skinning and washing jute?

In this plastic age, who tells them to cultivate jute?
Are they abandoned by their Chennai-bound brothers?
Or are they tied to their traditional harvesting?

Is the yield good or bad?
How is the market this year?
Will they make a profit out of their labour?

I don’t know, as there is no news
Of cultivating, cutting, retting jute
In the newspaper or newsroom.

Abandoned people, abandoned hopes,
The cost of fertilizer and pesticides multiplied,
Beels are dry, but they will sow jute again.

They are not bonded labourers, I know.
But, are they free?

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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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