The sound of our breath in our wings

by Shyamal Kumar Pramanik

The sound of our breath in our wings
In our breasts the song of rain
And an ancient hunger

Our ancestors sang
Their song made the sun glow
And the moon beam
While the waves lapped

Still the darkness in our homes was impenetrably black
We used to fumble in that darkness
For burnt bread
All night we would be surrounded by
Time and timelessness
Life and death
And then the limitless dawn would steal up on us
The infinite sky beneath a blue oblivion

Wake up, all of you
Who have been sleeping since eternity
Who have never heard the song of the rain

My Bow and Arrow

by Marshal Hembrom

You scream that
This land
I built
Aren’t really mine
You order me angrily
To abandon these at once
And go into the unknown
This place was
A kingdom of vines
A dense forest
Without habitation
Clearing the jungle
With physical labour
I made a home to live in
A happy household
If you now claim
This land and pond and farm and house
Are not mine
Then I
Have no choice but to pick up my bow and arrow

A dialogue between the oppressor and the oppressed

by Kalyani Thakur Charal

This anguish over them
The revolution seems an indulgence to you people
Roasting their votes for eating
Is also our job
At least we know what’s going on with them the year round
Why have you people suddenly decided
To put up a show of revolution right now

We’re ignorant people who don’t understand, sahib
The two of you are our god
Before your eyes our boy is sacrificed
God of sacrifices
How much blood must flow to satisfy you
Go away from where you watch over us
We’ll die of starvation, even that’s better
It will save the lives of our children
We don’t need development, all that is for you
What happens in the forest
What has happened for thousands of years in the forest
Has not killed us
Don’t take our blood for your development, god
You are kings who fight one another
While poor men die
Our wounds are deeper at this age
We remember the zamindar’s soldiers
So many lives given up to protect the land
O revolutionary friends descended from zamindars
The same game by a different name and colour
Still makes so much blood flow

Safdar Hashmi

by Shakti Chattopadhyay

For bringing the language of your heart to your lips
They murdered you
India wants much more blood
India will fill its rivers and lakes
With the blood of plain speakers like you
This India will fertilise trees with it
Hashmi Hashmi
We will not give our lives as easily
No matter how much India wants it

For you, for me, for us

by Nabarun Bhattacharya

You can beg for forgiveness
Knock your head on the floor, weeping
Sign an affidavit stating
You will never be courageous again
Or you can choose a hospital bed
Or vomit blood at noon
Whichever you prefer
But a system has branded you
On your back with a heated rod
Death’s number is on my back too
We look like the inmates
Of a concentration camp
Though the barbed wire
Isn’t visible to the naked eye
Someone keeps chanting the numbers
Though they cannot be heard
Everyone must consider what’s to be done
The branches cast a shadow like a cross
Where there’s a cross, there are people
To be nailed to it, and people to drive the nails
Through their hands and feet
And since everything is inevitable,
Predestined and inexorable
Then why should we not scream once
Why should we not try just once
To be independent, unfettered, free
What else is there to do
For you, for me, for us,

All poems translated from the Bengali.

Read all the articles in the Art of Resistance series here.