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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 12 New Delhi March 9, 2019

Vande Mataram

Monday 11 March 2019

When I was shaped into words
with ink on paper,
my creator though had a colour,
a religion by birth,
I had neither.

I spread far and wide,
catching the eyes,
entering the hearts
of countless masses,
resounding into the corners
of a whole nation enslaved,
its body tattooed, soul scarred.

I inspired them,
transformed their passive dream
into a fiery articulation.
I led them
through the burning summer,
the dead of winter,
the fury of dark, stormy night
of their long march,
keeping aflame their firm resolve.

I was on their lips
when they faced bullets,
climbed the gallows,
laying down their lives
for the country’s freedom.

None then asked
my whereabouts—my resume;
I was all-pervasive, unbound.

Now when I am an antique,
taken out on rituals,
dusted, polished, put up on show,
I find I have a colour,
a religion, too,
reducing me to a boundary
from my limitless history.

Ajit Kumar Das

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