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Past Perfect and Present Indefinite

Thursday, Dec 27 - 2012 | By Bipin Patsani

The art of living, sharing, caring for all
And working together for a common goal
Is the greatest art mankind must learn,
If at all for its misdeeds it cares to mourn.
Love for freedom, national pride,
Sense of loss in an ancient war,
The burden of the past and tradition,
And the animation of the sublime on stones
May help produce the space-shuttle poetry
Of some private pleasure, five-star agony
Or even in building up some info-tech story.

Awards and honours mean much for the elite;
But the lifestyle of the common people,
The pain and strain they endure is a nation’s true identity.

When achievements reduce to be personal,
Failure remains to be the collective responsibility
Of a people for sheer debate that ends verbal.

Though age makes us weary,
Makes us sad, self-centered and lonely,
The lines of Gopabandhu, who wept for the poor
And worked for them, still haunt our memory:
“Not in years, months,
Not in days, nor hours of pleasure;
Man lives in his work,
And the work, his only measure.”

In this land of temples and gods
People are, as it were, too great and godly
To think of the wretched of the earth,
Who, in their opinion, are destined to die
Starvation deaths or eating mango kernel,
Cursed to make only babies to rock.

They seduced and stole their god,
They stole all their woods
And the little they had for food.
The dignity of living as humans they denied them,
For which a mother now sells even her child
Compelled to pay so great a price for a handful of rice.

When strength becomes weakness,
The burden of achievement
Turns out to be the cause of misery.

Idle worshippers of cult figures
And alien to commitment and work culture,
Most of us love to depend on others.
Money comes and goes, god knows where,
And we get used to our woes.

The thought of a lost war or the struggle,
Sometimes compensates the loss and abuse
When we contemplate on our sluggishness
And do not exhaust means by much use
Like a militant outfit,
Left with little to offer the people it makes suffer,
Wasting more on weapons and the hit.

Pillars only don’t ensure peace
 If the ground beneath is hollow,
Where each and every one growls
For a bigger share of the kill.

If past perfect is our treasure,
Can’t our present be progressive
And food for all, our pleasure?

We sit and wait in the deluxe suite of our insight
Looking for some poetic truth
And invest on our intellectual exercise,
Aching for some new surprise, new image,
Good enough to please, conceal and confuse.

The desperate dreams and defiance
Of a simple folk that has always loved
To have a life of its own free from subjugation,
The beautiful landscape, the golden beach
And the mystic silence of the poetic network
Of magnificent temples come to my mind
And I smile when they ask me,
“How do your people write so good poetry?”

When I am asked about starvation deaths at my place
Or a mother selling her child for a handful of rice,
I feel miserable myself, groping for words.
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