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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 37, New Delhi, August 28, 2021

Comrade - 1978 poem by Prabhakar Gangurde Astitva - translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

Friday 27 August 2021

by Prabhakar Gangurde Astitva, Aurangabad, 1978

Don’t expect revolution from those living corpses,
comrade.
First you
become their beacon.
The revolution that
will flash like lightning
and not be extinguished in any storm is still far far
away.
Don’t be in a hurry for revolution. You are still very small;
your ability to resist
the atrocities, boycotts and rapes that go on every moment
has become nil,
comrade.
Tomorrow’s sun is yet to rise;
sleep undisturbed until then.
Take the fantasy out of
your daydreams.
What will happen
from simply waving the red flag
over the many colors of reality?
In showing the way to violent revolution take care
of your own existence, comrade.
I’m worried about you,
not knowing
what will happen tomorrow.
The sun will set.
Where are you going
with your existence in the dark, comrade?
Don t be so impatient,
there are some boundaries to sacrifice. From a thousand sacrifices
what will be accomplished?
This is the
story o f each generation.
Why give to one generation only
the sacrifice o f all generations? Comrade don t be so anxious,
don t worry about me.
Now I have awakened,
I am moving in blazing sunlight. Come...
You won t come with me
you won*t embrace me.
I have tiger claws scattered
all over my body.
They won t pierce you.
I f they pierce you it is
certainly not for your sacrifice comrade.

(Dalit poem of the late 1970s; translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar. The “ tiger claws” in the last section refer to the weapons used by the Maratha king Shivaji to kill the Muslim chief Afzal Khan in an embrace at a meeting in which both were planning treachery.)

Reproduced From: Reinventing Revolution: New Social Movements and the Socialist Tradition in India I Gail Omvedt. 1993 by M. E. Sharpe, Inc.

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