Wake! Asia! Wake! (Part One)

Wake! Asia! Wake!

by T. Wignesan

Part One

It is night yet in the West
and the planes land between listlessly burning tarmac lamps
stealthy fingers scurrying through diadems of neons halogens and amber
Wake! O! Asia! Wake!

The cowherds’ bare blistered feet already trample yesterday’s dust into mud
and cartwheels strain in crusted fissures where rains only once or twice fell
while dreams fester in cosy centrally-heated silken beds in luxury flats
Wake! O! Asia! Wake!

Tomorrow is yesteryear’s planned strikes
buses trains taxis office machines lie soundlessly asleep
and will not wake until the battle over psychic comfort comes to an end
Wake! O! Asia! Wake!

For You there is no respite no pause
no tea-breaks with cheese biscuits or croissants
there’s only the last container to crane over the dock in unpaid overtime
Wake! O! Asia! Wake!

Your eyes will hurt in the twilight’s hazy glimmer
no time to brush your teeth nor shave in hot and cold running water
nor the right to flush a toilet nor heedlessly course through in cosy tubes to work
Wake! O! Asia! Wake!

The sirens rave through boulevards in broad night-light
rushing hypertensic cardiac cases from their delight-full beds
cholestrol and diabetic cane sugar within reach of every child in supermarkets
Wake! O! Asia! Wake!

Let those who succeeded their former masters
sip their sweet sweatless porto before the hors-d’oeuvres
and flap their tabliers hiding their secret shame under cabalistic arms
Wake! O! Asia! Wake!

Wake! there’s little time left for your own bickering differences to fester
the dawn signals the tasks that lie ahead unfinished
and the carrion hunters trained in their old master’s image club together
Wake! O! Asia! Wake!

Wake! and see the extent to which you’re still enslaved
enslaved by your own kind who hanker after conditioning platitudes
the clubby comfort of secretly oath-taking power cliques
Wake! O! Asia! Wake!

Remember! Remember Haidar Ali his son Tipu and Akbar
remember Sivaji and Chandra Bose and Kattapomman and Asoka
remember O! remember the one and only Mahatma
Wake India! O! Wake!

Wake! India! Wake! and see how your destitute generations are shunned aside
in infested villages sans drains sans potable water sans hope
see how they’re bound in mantric incantating castiron caste strictures
Wake! O! India! Wake!

No where else in the world are humans so in-humane-ly stratified
what proof have the Brahmins to issue forth from Brahma’s head
who proclaimed them the chosen elite on top of the Indian pile of castes
Wake! O! India! Wake!

Wake! and see how your northern brethren have cast off their spiritual shackles
even if they had abjured the path of the just to yoke their bodies
yet for each child a vaccine a soja-filled stomach to keep slavers away
Wake! O! India! Wake!

Wake! O! India! Wake before it’s too late!
for your own kind are about to enslave you once all over again
and the old master needs hardly despatch troops to proclaim his divine law
Wake! India! Wake!

Wake and watch how your elite ape and espouse the ways of the old master
how for an air-ticket a stipend per diem they would do you in without compunction
how for some lions memberships in select clubs they’d betray your own true kind
Wake! O! Asia! Wake!

Wake! O! Indonesia! Wake and see how the G.N.P. in Singapore
far outweighs that of the former papal Portugal now
how the four fiery Eastern Dragons no more parade in papier maché garb
Wake! Indonesia! Wake!

No wisdom more canny than the folksome pantun’s peasant proverbials
Wake! Monde Malais! Wake and note no Sultan whirls as a Sufi
Nor no Sage of Singapore pouting platitudes can make you wake
Wake! Malay! Wake!

And settle your differences with neighbours over the bamboo fences
for as long as you chain produce Kalashnikovs and cartridges
others far-off will pride themselves on their need to divide et impera
Wake! China! O! Wake!

Give your less mighty neighbours not so much the helping hand
as the glory of an example of standing upright free on equal feet
you who had over the ages exported suzerain panaceas and no conquests
Wake! O! China! Wake!

Remember again Asoka the masterful Mauryas the golden era of the artful Guptas
Kalidasa’s Shakuntala Tulsi Das Pannini’s grammar Bharatha’s Natya Sastra
The Tolkappiyam the Cilappatikaram Manimekalai Ramayana Maha Bharatha
Wake! India! Wake!

Remember Lao Tse! Master Kung! and the all-doubt dispelling future perfect Yijing!
Remember the finest mind-embroidered silk flowing down the ages
in Wu’s Monkey skeins of thought calligraphed in the Buddhist mean!
Wake! O! China! Wake!

All is not full-figures all not burgeoning percentage growth
if glory can be reduced to mere Middle Kingdom might!
then bound feet will drag on face-down in seven kowtows
Wake! O! Mighty China! Wake!

And set your legions marching not to win wars or quell rebellions
but to unclog your drains canals marshes and rivers
let your lifeblood circulate nourished in lifegiving oxygen
Wake! O! Asia! Wake!

Whose art the better glints down the ages the gilded Samurai swords
or those of Bashô and Issa in the carved rocky sands of the combed garden
or those of Lady Murasaki in Genji Monogatari and Chikamatsu
Wake! Sleepless Rising Sun! Wake!

And remember the sun never really sets only on covetousness
no greater co-prosperity sphere is there than inner contentment
here the sun only rises and spreads its eyes in constant kindness
Wake! Japan! Wake!

O! Where have they all gone who drank deep and late Old Khayyam’s wine
while with compass and rule he measured the rhymes of the skies
and found the tulip-cheeked maiden wrapped round his earthen cup
Wake! Old Persia! Wake!

And still the venomous thunders flooding in the Tigris-Euphrates veins
every minority has a right to his pride of place every dog his manger
no monster bomb worth the sweetness of the four-stringed ruba’i
Wake! Saddam! Wake!

Let not the dust from streets settle on the rags of the by-standing beggar
batten down the mud with stones and gravel with those very hands
that culled the Ajanta Caves from the rocks of teeming wilderness
Wake! O! India! Wake!

See not how the chiselled rocks of Fathepur Sikri lie chipped in negligence
nor how the hordes of monkeys romp on the fortifications in disdain
see only the vision that shaped the mind of Akbar’s masons
Wake! O! India! Wake!

Scorn not the erstwhile brother now behind a frontier wall
if your ways were just no brother would have sought cover
siblings are no higher or lower born of the same mother
Wake! Now India! Wake!

Receive the bounteous waters that descend from the heavens
confine and clean them in reservoirs in troughs or in buckets
and make them pour forth in joy onto your children’s faces
Wake! O! Asia! Wake!

Wake! wake your neighbours also from the gonepast Rip-van-Winkle millennium
it’s hardly enough just to keep going from day to day
nor rely on the idea that no matter what It works India works
Wake! O! India! Wake!

And take the tasks in your own hands the tasks of your own fate
do not let the helper from elsewhere tell you what is best
what is best for you in his words is always infinitely better for him
Wake! Wake! Asia! Now!

The poor the misguided in streets and villages weigh on consciences
for you have always let them be in their ignominious plight
show them how share with them your superior knowledge
Wake! India! Wake!

Differences only persist because you want them to
it is enough to show them what causes their bodies to weaken
it is enough to feed their minds with that little which will grow in time
Wake! India! Wake!

If you give them no running water and the drains and pipes of evacuation
if the rubbish that piles up behind huts and mansions heaves and breathes
if you dung and spray in the open air to feed legions of flies and insects
Wake! O! India! Wake!

The food that they serve you will be from unclean hands
and the tourist will bypass the hotel and soon the sub-continent
and there’d be little use in saying we the upper castes we live in godly-cleanliness
Wake! India! Wake!

And shatter the dream of the purity of untarnished blood
there are just those who are born with blood and bones legs hands eyes
and those who think they are twice-born with more than just that
Wake! India! Wake!

We have all but one mother over that great eastern divide of the Black Continent
in the nuit des temps our dreams stood up on hind legs
and uttered the words we now mouth in Babelic tongues
Wake! O Asia! Wake!

And take upon yourselves the task of showing those who falter in spent spurious dreams
that the age of conquerors is an age brought to a standstill in history books
that buying and selling is all the commerce conquerors can peddle nowadays
Wake! Asia! Wake!

Show them that a fair deal is still one to be honoured in your shores
no one will take more than what is his earned share
and none will seek to shortchange his honour for luxury
Wake! India! Wake!

And let the Wheel of the Law turn your fortunes to steadfast mettle
and he that abjured gold and palace to roam the streets and forests
has long since won the hearts of nations beyond your continent
Wake! India! Wake!

And learn from his example the simplicity of forsaking futile ambition
of forsaking all that crippled your body and mind
of letting them alone in their Vedic mystic glorification
Wake! India! Wake!

For he has woken up those peer nations they who woke up before you
and have put their fellowmen in a state of equal plenitude
with nothing to envy those who conquered and humiliated you
Wake! India! Wake!

And think not nor devise how you may emulate your past masters
envy not them their lives nor their wealth in times to come
your future is no more never more tied to their apron strings
Wake! O! Asia! Wake!

And let your heart beat to the rhythm of thriving hives
let no one tell you where to put your feet next
when you pull your weight together there your feet will prop you up straight
Wake! Asia! Wake!

And let those who enslaved your body and mind for so long
let them learn from your willingness to forgive
that they too have a place in your heart as guests
Wake! Asia! Wake!

Do not crush the children of those whose ancestors sought to humiliate you
children grow conditioned to the ways which you accepted for ages
as you accepted the conditioning of your children by their fathers
Wake! India! Wake!

And shake off the mantric spells ringing in your conditioned minds
but remember and preserve the great sanskrit treatises
those that refined aesthetics in dance music drama poetry in sculpted architecture
Wake! Artful India! Wake!

And see how all is not bad in the horrendous past
see how Akbar the Great lavished learning in between dangling his sabre
see how the Moghuls wrought lasting mausoleums in the name of love
Wake! O! Suffering India! Wake!

See how the British-planned railways brought you closer than ever before
see the I.C.S. examination as the equaliser the Confucian meritocracy
see how the Western savants discovered your own glorious past for you
Wake! O! India! Awake!

Recognize the truth of your enslavers’ contribution to the sub-continent
heed not those who would poison your minds with chauvinistic lust
accept the historical fact as a truth that cannot recede into wishful oblivion
Wake! Now! India! Wake!

There is no shame in being taught the truth of your present or past plight
the accidents of history have reaped their toll on your memory
but now you are master of your own fate of your own history to come
Wake! India! Wake!

Wake! and show the way to a better understanding for the less fortunate
the maimed in mind the thwarted by birth those the abject shunned from sight
let them also claim descent from your Himalayan heights
Wake! India! O! Wake!

Before it’s too late! Before your own kind enslave you again
victim to your former masters’ machinations
slave to your own listless traditions
Alas! Wake! India! Wake!

Where is that all-embracing self-negating self
You who have turned upon yourself
once too often to shed your precious blood and repent
Wake! India! Wake!

Wake not to feel that all is maya all futile all cyclic dust
even if it were so the pain lingers pain is cantankerous
in the beggar’s strife-torn eyes in the child’s fly-infested blown belly
Wake! India! Wake!

All is not illusion all is not fake all is not a passing phase
the hurt lingers on in the memory of those who died in pain
forsaken forbidden trodden on and driven under
Wake! India! Wake!

To lose even a day no to lose even an hour
is to put millions on the block
is to set them back by aeons
Wake! India! Wake!

Rise with the sun rise fresh from yesterday’s toil
from poisoning TV commercials and commercials’ mightily airy-fairy movies
from jingling song and bill-cooing in gardens from worshipfuls of Bollywood idols
Wake! India! Wake!

Lull not your finely-tuned senses in lilting goose-pimply melodies
let not your far-sighted perceptions become dulled in spurious imitations
here in the West they marvel at the speechless facial rhythms of a Satyajit Ray
Wake! India! Wake!

How do you manage to listen day in and day out to the sentimental romantic quatrains
set to rumba and samba cinematic background less-than-roaring forties’ dance music
under a decor of piped sky-lancing and prancing tinny gushy melodramatics
Wake! India! Wake!

Before your children grow up thinking reality is a coloured film-strip in hot gasping halls
where plumpy heavily mascara-ed curly moustachio-ed pot-bellied half-men
chase blown-up versions of the eternal Sita oozing midrift flesh heaving in rosy gardens
Wake! India! Wake!

Wake and take the future by the horns it’s no toro that will gore you into the past
you need no muleta for a faena with the dark and terrifying future
the future’s just a bull raised on cow’s milk in green pastures
Wake! India! Wake!

Make haste to befriend the toro meanly reared away from spectator eyes
by dread alone the bull is nurtured and prodded to terrify
and when at last the ranchero’s silhouette appears in the arena it charges
Wake! India! Wake!

There are no greater mysteries than those your scientists can unravel
the only mysteries that persist are those drummed by priests into your brains
even a helpless Stephen Hawking can pierce the Aryan mystery by silent reflection
Wake! India! Wake!

Let those who seek power in the polls seek it for their own sakes
sooner or later sooner than later they too will pass away
their power gnawing at their bones will feed the etherising flames of their pyres
Wake! India! Wake!

Let those who seek to challenge their power challenge it for their own sakes
they too will rot in the chains they have willingly chained themselves in
for they too seek power for the sake of power and for theirs and their own comfort
Wake! India! Wake!

And let them all pass over you you who have borne in quiet pain
mauling under the pretext of mournful migrations and the Mughal might
Mohenjodaro and Harrappa notwithstanding Vijayanagar and Kaveripumpattinam
Wake! India! Wake!

Do not for a moment think your sons have deserted you
nor your daughters gone to spawn with other spouses under other suns
your needs are their needs your tears their blood coursing in their veins
Wake! India! Wake!

If you had woken up earlier to tend to your shores to tend to the marauders at the border
letting only the lone Kshatriya exert his martial art abused by fine courtly comfort
you would not now wonder how a Rajput court at Mewar drove Akbar to such lengths
Wake! India! Wake!

Your bombs and canons come late far too late now to put together your sundered arms
no use crying robber in Kashmir when the poor hunger for a bowl of dusty gruel
nor stretch your mighty legs over the Palk Straits to proclaim your integral faith
Wake! India! Wake!

There are no borders to the staunchly raised in unbending respect and unrelenting loyalty
there is no need for police-ed borders for those who are tied to you by blood
there’re only stretches of unfathomable water so much un-scaleable mountainous frights
Wake! Asia! Wake!

And draw your sons and daughters about you they who inherit your fate
tell them not when they may act or how just let them gather around you
with time if you wake up in time they’ll hoist you to Himalayan heights

                                     Wake! Now! Asia! Wake! Before It’s Too Late!

© T.Wignesan 1996/2001
[Written between April 7th and 20th, 1996; revised February 2001]


T. Wignesan

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