When I have to write To all these publishing houses They ask me to write on pain Suffering, Hunger and Trauma And if I differ, they say These don’t look like Dalit poetry They can’t stand to read A Dalit Happy
Either it should start with “We suffered in their hands” Or it should end with “Our hunger persisted forever” They said Their readers can’t believe That a Dalit can be happy
They said My poems aren’t Dalit poems For they don’t speak about oppression They don’t speak about Ambedkar They don’t speak about misery
They said I’m a Dalit And so I must write hard hitting poems Poems that can revolutionize the world Poems that can disturb the privileged They said The market demands it But never said whose market it was
They said A free dalit with upward mobility An independent dalit with confidence A romantic dalit with quest for love Can’t exist in their books They said They need raw poems Associated more with soil With aesthetics and culture And when I said that we moved afar From those discriminatory native lands From the clutches of benevolent landlords They said, “go back to your roots”
Yes I know My roots and culture Were stolen from my foreparents I know I need to write about it But should I never escape my trauma Should I not live in peace And write of all the beautiful things Like butterflies, rainbows and so on? And even when I write of animals They ask me to write on Pigs On buffalo, on native dogs, And all the other animals They won’t associate with.
They said a lot more What can I write on What can’t I write on They trained me to be a Dalit poet They gained me the market My books to their stores And poems to their classrooms Which they include in syllabus The most mellowed of them all And pat themselves on their backs For being casteless and progressive
Can I never write like them, About distant Casuarina trees? When their rare racism sighting is valid Why can’t my rare happiness be valid too? When will my happiness be valid? When will my romance be valid? When will my peace be valid? When’d these be marketable?
None of my trauma disturbs them None of my suffering disturbs them Only thing that always disturbs Every Oppressor’s psyche Is the happiness of the Oppressed The success of them And the fearlessness of them Most importantly, their love.