Dalits, photograph by Marcus Perkins
Hearing of Dalit children burnt alive by caste Hindus in Haryana
We always put you to task You untouchables Sometimes, bored, tired We come for your children We come for soft flesh We come with hard skins Against skins crumbling Without a shout or fury We come with petrol in our brains We, combustible machines Born from hate’s factories The moment we learn who we are We know whom to kill It is our ancient duty, ancient pride We kill for old loyalties To our ancestors, gods, scriptures We need you to clear the dirt You are the dirt we need to clear The dirt in our heads We need you to cleanse us From dirty fears in our soul We foul our own death By the death we give you, You do not have bodies like ours Our bodies are caged hymns Swords sheathed by pride Our bodies are firewood We burn you like paper Your children burn like figs We burn what pricks our eyes We are born to gods Who burn with a mere glance If their pride is hurt — We learn from them We are an ancient civilisation Being ancient absolves us Of crimes we do in dark times You are our dark times Your freedom is our darkness Your children going to school Like our children Spells doom for ancient laws It’s your children’s turn It’s your turn, children, We need to burn your future For the sake of our past 21 October 2015
Manash Bhattacharjee is a poet, writer, translator and political science scholar from JNU. His poems have appeared in The London Magazine, New Welsh Review, The Fortnightly Review, Elohi Gadugi Journal, The Postcolonialist, and First Proof: The Penguin Book of New Writing from India (Vol. 5), etc. His first collection of poems, Ghalib’s Tomb and Other Poems (2013), was published by The London Magazine. He is currently Adjunct Professor in the School of Culture and Creative Expressions at Ambedkar University, New Delhi.
BBC News, India, Indian protests after Dalit children burnt alive in caste attack, 21 October 2015