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Mainstream, VOL LX No 22, New Delhi, May 21, 2022

Pick a Wave | Badri Raina

Saturday 21 May 2022, by Badri Raina


O citizen, un-besotted by zeal,
Un-fathered by the state,
Between the heat wave
And the hate wave
Take your pick;
Torched by the two now
Smoulders the captive republic.

Neither the all-out sun nor the bellowing
Saint knows the pinch
Of price rise.
Once the Gorgon has spouted,
What son of woman
May blubber otherwise.

Have you no work, have you no food,
No plaster for the broken bone,
No cooking oil, nor firewood,
No sympathetic microphone
That may your throttled syllables
To the lord of the master race make known?

Then plunge politic into the wave
That the sun’s wrath supercedes,
Be among the master race,
The favoured among the starving weeds,
Strike a blow for national pride,
Be thou a crusader who gladly died
Not for water, bread, roof over the head,
Or justice cured of discrimination,
Or, singing common human compassion—
Not for any such lowly, cupidinous aims,
A paltry quest that the Vishwa Guru shames–
But die smashing signs that impudent abide,
Die installing deities long denied.
Go break an “other” skull or two,
And earn the praise of you—know- who.

Only riding the wave of hate
May you find favour with a one-eyed state
And prove that hunger, disease, alienation
Are just canny slogans against the nation—
Polemics of little account when yeoman
Service waits to be done,
When an imagined glory unknown to man
Screams to be chased to the horizon.

Empires are not built on loaves of bread.
Empires are built on other men’s blood.

by Badri Raina, May 19, 2022

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