Remembering Nehru

“Milton! Thou shouldst be living at this hour:

England hath need of thee: she is a fen

Of stagnant waters….we are selfish men;

O raise us up, return to us again;

And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.” —William Wordsworth



When you died, without notice, from

A heavy heart, I was twenty three, but

Cried   all day long, uncontrollably.

It felt as though our umbilical cord

Had  been  severed from that infinitely

Caring , infinitely daring, infinitely

Childlike god who had steered a   riven

Ship  full of chaos, cacophony, woe—

A babble of skins,  syllables, rituals

   Caverns of  fear-ridden  ignorance,

  Hate-filled hunger, and suspicion

  Of what we did not know, which

Was  indeed head to toe—

So  adroitly,— resolute in love, sure

In reason, all-embracing in clasp,—

That  the vessel ,  guaranteed

To sink into smithereens, steadied,

Cleaved, charted a course  yielding,

Without force, a common route

To a common fate, neither rampant

Nor flamboyant, but erect in gait.

You left, beloved of us all, and

Of  an admiring world, and soon

We came into our own.  This is not

Enough, some said; dismantle

Now this socialist rot, and let the rich

Be richer and the others strive

In their poverty to merit our company.

For decades   you have been a memory

Even to your own, secretly, of what has

Kept us  from  those animal spirits  which alone

Can   bloat what was a common ark

To  the size of a battle ship, ready

To embark  on  conquering the world,

Even as  we poison the earth, air, water

Around us to make demons  of   humans,

Armed  with  lolling avarice and  righteous

Intolerance, vanquishing   mere  kindness,   and

The timidity of peace.  Our  treasury   grows

As we shrink into munching midgets

And mechanical  mannequins, replete

With   silliness, vacuity,  aggression, and pose,

All   stridently garnished with religion and noise.

Jawahar that you truly were, our gems

Now are made from synthetic things.

The least trinket with a brand does

The highest price command. In such

A  Bharat may be even you could not have

Done much. You taught us to be global

In the  best human ways; our globalization

After you  is a branded craze for thinginesses

That have  flattened our souls into dresses,

And filled our  skulls with buying and selling

To the accompaniment of twittered yelling.

To them who  can neither buy nor sell

We  simply say  there is heaven and there is hell,

And  never the two may gel. You will

Not pull us down, and we will not pull

You up;  be you green or dark, and

Speaking out of turn, beware of the  trident

That  bears the  blazing fury of saffron.

There we have arrived, O noble one,

Best gone, where  you never failed to warn.

May  be the catastrophe will impel us

To return  to the riches of reason you so

Strenuously taught us to learn.

May be the tear that now drips down

My cheek is harbinger of that churn.


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