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May 21st 2020

The Blog thREAD

We lived through March as workers began their long trek home, without any help or guidance from their employers or those in power, with little money and a few belongings. They overcame their apprehensions of a dangerous walk over thousands of kilometres.
We, the privileged – watched the media coverage in despair, as many collapsed and died on the way. Or were run over by speeding trucks and trains.
We, the privileged – have read their obituaries in the media.
When they do reach their home-states, what will happen after a few months? Jobs and wages seem distant and elusive.
Cyclone Amphan today is being termed a Super Cyclone, raising fear with the destruction aftermath in 1999 and Cyclone Fani last May.

My poem ‘Landless Labourers’

Relevant today as Cyclone Amphan takes it toll in parts of Odisha, where the poem is set. Odisha has witnessed :

1999 Super Cyclone
2013 Phailin
2014 Hudhud
2018 Titli
2019 Fani


Dark times are making many more restless, unleashing sentiments by Humra Quraishi

New Delhi based poet – writer, Jayshree Misra Tripathi, wrote this poetic verse in the early hours of 28 March 2020. She wrote it in the backdrop of the harsh realities of the day. To quote her, “The images of migrant workers, carrying a few belongings, walking away from the city in throngs, has filled me with such dark despair. Another picture of an inhuman policeman making young boys, with bags on their backs, squat and jump a few paces at a time, to the border, fills me with shame. They naturally want to return home. There are no daily wages for them during the lockdown. No proper homes to live in. So, they walk to the bus terminus. The buses are full, so they walk on. I could not help but wonder what thoughts must be flitting through their troubled minds. How unkind are we in these desperate times – with the imminent fear of death from the COVID 19 virus? And what about those who live by themselves, their angst…?”

Here’s the poem by Jayshree Misra Tripathi titled Disquiet in Isolation:

“Are you scared
of being alone too long
with thoughts that spill over
from the past,
memories drowned,
you do not wish to dredge?
Are you scared
of being alone too long
with whispers from empty corners,
visions that float unbidden,
like dust rising with the breeze,
you cannot yet evade?
Are you scared
of being alone too long
tomorrow, with premonitions,
uncertain of the infrequent shadows
walking beside you, if any,
for they may all be unknown?
Breathe deeply,
Inhale, exhale-
Angst is just another word.”