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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 27, New Delhi, June 19, 2021

Prisoners of Conscience | Sagari Chhabra

Friday 18 June 2021, by Sagari Chhabra

What would be
The work of conscience
In our times;
Is it to lift the debris
From those we left behind;
Assuage their wounds,
Ask with knees and head bent low,
O, how did I neglect you so?
The migrant labour;
Calloused hands, blistered feet,
Grief that took to the street;
How did I leave you alone
To face this searing heat?
The man who trudged
Carrying his mother on his head,
Searching for a hospital bed;
Where should he cremate the corpse,
But give it a burial soaked with tears,
Down the Ganga now a hearse,
Carrying dead bodies in its flow,
This is the way loved ones now go.
At night he wonders
Could they have built
A health centre at his village;
But we went instead for a global pillage;
A seat at the high security table,
Sans hospitals, pensions
But a Central Vista stable;
Free rations up to Diwali,
Till you are able;
Some charity,
But for the sake of clarity,
Let me say,
He slaved both night and day,
All he does now is to pray;
Give us the India
That still embodies
The dreams of those
Who fought for our freedom;
For the kingdom of God
Is where the last child resides,
She presides
Over the future of an entire civilization;
Slowly comes the realization,
May these poetic lines
Be prayer flags in the wind,
Waving inwards:
If we do not do the work of conscience
We will remain
Prisoners of that conscience.

Sagari Chhabra - 16th June 2021

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