Madonna and child,  Kashmir, India, by DILIP BANERJEE
UMadonna and child,  Kashmir, India, by DILIP BANERJEE

  Vol VII : issue 3&4


  Ashis Nandy
  George Fernandes
  Jaya Jaitly
  Uma Varatharajan
  Rashid Haider
  Santosh Rana

  Prakash Singh
  Joy Goswami
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Joy Goswami

Ink on paper by DHIRAJ CHOWDHURY

Blood splatters on the dust
The police drag bodies by their feet
Falgun’s furious on 14th March
Palaash, unerringly, blooms on trees




They gave up the land, freely
They gave up their homes, freely
They laid out their backs and put their heads
Under the rod, freely

Can you not see?

Sure, I have seen it all, freely
I've been made to see it, freely
The lifeless body of human rights,
Floating away in the tide, I did see
Handcuffed by state decree
Democracy, dripping with blood,
The guards walk him on the way
To the gallows, the guards take him
As we stand on the highway
And watch, keep watching, freely.


It’s about grabbing land
About driving people out
Of their homes, hold us
By the scruff of our necks and hurl
Build tall enterprise, arrogant nations
Right on our heartland

The cops are required to fall in line
Else, how would you, by hook or crook,
Label me an outsider, and
Break my bones, pal of mine?

It’s a people’s government from today
It’s a people’s government from today.


The party fund

“Respected Sir/s, This is to inform you that the land in Nandigram would be seized on 14.03.2007… You are asked to collect some people and assemble at the Khejuri branch of the party office by seven in the morning. I am sending Rs 2 lakh through the recipient.” — Excerpted and translated from legislator Lakshman Seth’s note to the panchayat heads on 8 March 2007

Is that all? Asking us to go?
Leaving behind these fields, home and hearth, where we rest our heads
Where are we to go? What will we eat? Whose door will we knock on
To work as servants? Why at all? Just because, one morning
You came by, asking us to leave our homes and go away?

Is there a dearth of places for people like you?
Necks slashed — stomach torn — chests shot through — heads cracked open
This Talpati canal here and the Haldi river would wash you downstream
While the rest, buried under the ground, body upon body
Would raise the grassroots level…

Can’t you see the big money being spent from the party fund
Towards your rehabilitation?


To protest the Left Front government’s bid to acquire farmland in West Bengal to set up a chemical hub in Nandigram, villagers — aided by opposition parties and Maoist rebels — barricaded the area. The plan for industrialisation was cancelled and on March 14, 2007, many were killed in police firing. The protests continued for months, with Left Front sympathisers thrown out of the village, till the CPI(M) cadres supported by the police ‘recaptured’ Nandigram in a storm of bloodshed in November 2007.
The month of Falgun spells spring for Bengal, when the flaming red palaash flowers light up trees

Translated from the Bengali by Chitralekha Basu


Joy Goswami is among the most powerful Indian poets writing in Bengali. Also an editor
with the newspaper ‘Pratidin’, he lives in Calcutta