ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Blogging Competition Shortlisted Entry
By Rushati Mukherjee, 21years, Kolkata
so the other day i was asked to write about #Indiaat70.
I started. had it been that many years already? since the chains creaked and broke and the crumbling palace was left minnowed and behind us lay a graveyard and thus india was born?
in front lay virgin land. the elephant stood. with the grinding masses of screams and blood
a massive moving thing with crowds glistening toiled through the Ancient world.
the elephant had rules and we followed.
I. it would not be ridden by a queen. queens don’t ride they sit.
II. riders had to fight. they would spit and drink blood and spurn flowers for poison and death.
III. riders had to own. they would ravish lands and people and nobody could stand in their way.
IV. riders could not love. they could not cry. they could not be broken. they only broke.
V. queens had to be hidden. they were wrapped in flowers and trapped in glass and were hard-to-find. they could not look up. they could not bleed. they bled in silence if they did.
VI. queens had to be bought. they were bought and sold in the markets of eyes. they could be torn and beaten and melted and burnt then asked not to tempt. they were erased if they did.
VII. love could not be love except in the not-other form.
VIII. you could not be you except in the yes-this-one form.
IX. those at the feet would stay at the feet. thighs and heads were out of bounds.
X. those at the head would stay at the head. the head could be reached but the stairs could not be found.
but then someone screamed about the blood.
bodies dropped and bodies flowered.
drops unknown littered and bones seeded the ground.
it was brutal but for the blossoms’ sake we forgot the dropping dead.
and so the world turned and the 70th sun shone upon us.
we have grown like weeds around the elephant’s ground.
hidden, snaking out from between the cogs, floating on the oil. we are afraid.
we are born of blood and bones. our dead scream within us. yet
all we can do is sing. we are creeping up from the ground, reaching towards the sky:
sometimes our tendrils wrap from under the wheel
wracking it, stopping it with the petals of our love.
the elephant bellows, stalled. its rust-lungs don’t work.
it can’t breathe, it can’t speak. from somewhere tears well up and spring:
they run down its metal-tusks, glistening: it is changing, it is changing!
we are more than the names we are called, whisper the weeds.
we are the most beautiful of the creatures of the earth.
we are your friends, your families, your favourite people.
we are everything dreams and nightmares are made of.
we are flowers, not rust. we are the beauty the world needs.
chukka-writer. woman-builder. gay-teacher. trans-coder.
the elephant is bound by the most beautiful weeds the world has ever seen.
traps of muscles bind it, squirming: and then/do you hear it?! and then:
a thud a (thud) thud (thud):/ i think i heard a heart!
machine grows lungs and lives and the weeds/ become a tree and then a grove
towers and flowers and becomes/ a forest:
wide, love-brimmed, teeming, spreading, spreading, conquering the earth:
blossoming we take root and rise up and make love
to the vast open sky we have made:
this is my india. this is my freedom. this is my dream.