Evening Tide - Lal Singh Dil
I’m back, today, after a brief hiatus. I tune back into the speed of the city and fall headlong into the chakravyuha of news surrounding the unfolding catastrophe that is the treatment of farmers in this country.
I spent much of my time in this last week with Dassauji, a friend, fellow traveller, and native inhabitant of Narayanpur, in the Abujhmaad forests, Chhattisgarh. Dassauji is a Gondhi Adivasi, and he rues the slow descent into ruthless modernity of the people of Narayanpur. A word he constantly repeats is “hybrid”. The adjective has a negative emphasis, and is seen with suspicious eyes - hybrid food, hybrid seeds, hybrid plants, hybrid pesticide. Hybrid comes to define products and schemes hatched by the government and corporates under the guise of “development”, that are actually fatal to farmers, peasants and the very land that they till. The farmers’ protests which have been reverberating through the country in the recent past have reached a crescendo in the last couple of days. The thin, fragile screen of inflated PR that the current government has been using to cover its inadequacies is beginning to tear. It is as if the baton has been passed from the “Nanis and Dadis” of Shaheen Bagh to the farmers of Dilli Chalo. What can one say to an administration whose response to farmers voicing their concerns is water cannons, tear gas, trenches? How can a country that is fed with the toiling hands of these farmers turn against them? Why are those same hands now clutching banners and loudspeakers? What kind of twisted, manipulative minds attempt to recast these as sponsored shows? What kind of government attacks its own people as they come to them with their problems?
I find short-lived solace, today, in the persistent dissenting voices that only grow louder. Revolutionary poet, Lal Singh Dil, years ago, held that same proletariat flame high. I had spoken about his life and passion in a previous post sharing his poem Flowers of blood . His poem, that I’m sharing - Evening Tide - feels like it was written today. It has the deep sense of anguish of the farmer, the feeling of shock and defiance stoked by the cruelty of the oppressor, and the enduring sense of loss and depravity of the migrant. But what I want to take away from Dil’s words today is his deep faith in the power of the people, his certainty that the movement will continue:
“The love of the fields was murdered last night Flames rose from the shack last night The caravan moves on”