To Rahul Saikia

It is a starry night in autumn. I’m at that hill where we used to drink at in that place we all referred to as Nongrah, though it’s not really called that, I’ve found out. You remember the place, right? The one that overlooks the huge NEIGRIHMS hospital, down below. The entire hill is now drawn up and has been sold off plot by plot. I don’t know, Saikia, I get so scared when I think of land as packages up for sale. I know everyone needs it but why can’t everyone have it? Why must the dream of a home, a neighbourhood, a view be so expensive?

“That piece was bought by that director, that over there is disputed, the people who bought that are so wealthy”
Remember we could walk all over the hill and it was no surprise to spy other friends, in the distance, drinking with girls? We would make fun over our own lack of talent then and our paucity, our inability (or was it unwillingness) to play that game.

“The going rate is a thousand rupees per square foot”
Imagine how much fun we could have had for that amount! It was all down the gullet, nothing saved at all. That is what they call immaturity. But honestly the mature people scare me. The professionals, officers and businessmen who’ve bought this lovely hill scare me. I’m scared that I will hate them and I don’t want to hate them.

Even in our own lifetime, I have known a land which was boundless and I could go anywhere and eat wild raspberries off bushes, I could run through my neighbours’ yard and it was alright. But maybe that is just a Romantic view of the world, my neighbours now have a huge gate and I seldom talk to them except for promises of re-acquaintance. I will, though, this coming season.

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Monkey Poems

Hanuman is a JCB carrying away mountain wealth.
What did the tribals have to say to that? History can’t remember.
Another outsider, eying benefits, cuts the minerals out for the factories.
We did not know about the War or Empire-building.
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They smile at you through TV screens and you’re not supposed to hate them because they’re just mischievous monkey-men;
It is their way- licking lips, thrusting pelvises, hooting- ape-dance.
In many cultures, the world over, the Monkey King is still up to his tricks,
In the quiet by-lanes, abandoned industrial estates, ordinary houses, parks, inside moving cars and buses.

Who Do You Fear?

Who do you fear? The rich and powerful club, or the poor people with only a day’s wages in their pockets? People eye Muslims and Churches say yes yes yes. Churches have officers, politicians, businessmen inside. The same people who on a daily basis meet RSS, BJP, VHP men and say sir sir sir.
Who do you fear? “Bangladeshis” on the streets selling shoes, dolls, handkerchiefs, toys, mirrors, chana or “Indians” signing contracts that take away land, minerals, water, people. Do you fear the muezzin’s call or Modi’s? Do you fear the grip of “foreign” or “Indian” terror?
Who do you fear? Vikash and Vincent, sitting in Marriot Sheraton, sipping on Chivas Regal, talking about development or Bahhep and Boy, Mawlai toughs, enforcing a blockade with a slingshot? Do you fear men in suits and boots, or the ones with no shoes?