Selection of Poems from The Unfold Pinnacle
Author: Basanta Kumar Kar
The poems tell the story of marginalized tribal women who were living in the Left Wing Infested (LWE) relief camps in India. These poems are part of a larger collection of poems, ‘The Unfold Pinnacle’ that gives the marginalized women and girls a voice through poetry and humanize development work with the intimate stories of those most directly affected by poverty and violence.
I behold, I cannot measure
elongated feet, curly branches,
tall muscular physique
rhythmic succession of steps
captivate and enthrall
sacredly, I await to be its guest.
my transparent tent outshines this gift divine
a fire enflames in haste
demand flesh and blood, I resist;
I am a mother.
Arson, tearing apart the flesh and blood
empowered to turn ashes of lives;
humans witness cries fouling the air
the horror of dying, decomposed alive
a fire burns
our kin demands subjugation
I plead to the divine,
why in my tiny forest my habitat cannot reside
I resist trading my children and all I exist for
brave, I am a mother.
My tiny forest habitat finds no place in your design;
melody of hill maina and the endless perennial streams
our festivity rejuvenates and thrill
the beauty of the wild forest is razed to the ground
resisting, I am a mother.
The warring factions hijack symphonic semblance
brutally butcher the native untied spirit
the century old custodian of the beautiful jungle;
imprisoned in delirium
breezes ventilate contagion
I can no longer hide flesh and blood
I despair and reinstate
there is not life in compromise
alas, I am a mother.
Just a glimpse into our beauty unparalleled
consumed mere three years of worldly life
our love, our togetherness
everything from our ribs bone;
leaving me behind he moves on
fending and caring for the little ones
have to pass through an ordeal on fire
never forget, I am a mother.
(A twenty-two years old Gond tribal widow from Maniknonta, Konta, Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, India. Mother of malnourished children she is residing in a conflict-hit relief camp). Maina- The bird known for human voice and a state bird
Brick and mortar, sand and clay
is put to grind
the amalgamation of a structure
is made solid;
we let it dry, a barricade in the foot of the hills
to cage us as animals of earth
put to serve a sentence in our native earth.
The maina weeps at lost branches
curiously radiating frozen past lay close in distance.
The melancholy gives birth to enflame
the burning soul endlessly flows
lava alive and hot
searching for a vent
the maddening surge for freedom
quashed and subdued,
living in the bonds of fetters in my own kingdom!
my leaders –saviors; overreached themselves.
The freedom in the air is not so free
for all to hear the cold winter wave
the rustling sound of leaves crisp
there the water brims in the river
the stream flows with gushing speed
all are not watched by the cupid god.
There is no escape or turnabouts
once you are in there it is the curse
maddening you to surge for freedom
how can you break free from leaders?
The saviours have disappeared
from the womb of the earth.
The spirit is strong, but the flesh is weak,
the thrill of spring remains ever elusive
my feelings and emotions are well over
we are left to gaze
of what was there never more will be in fray.
(Fifty-five-year-old tribal woman from Bhairamgarh, Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, India. She is staying in a conflict hit relief camp.) *Maina- The bird known for human voice and a state bird
Have you heard of last night’s massacre?
This was an orgy of massacre
more brutal than orgy itself
they unearthed to find their prey
wherever they found little hamlet
and their parents and members
all were kidnapped burnt alive
the red troops dare to do now
what made pharaoh his book
all the corpse were identified
by the armor of the vigilant night
witnessing the devouring of humans
more vicious than wolves.
Do you recognize my son, handsome and brave?
proud in death, valiant in his blood – stained
fought like a king, but they hunted him down
leaving behind the dead.
But his pride of death remains as one heroic in faith
for his birthplace is his eternal rest.
The strength of the wild lion, the resilience of nature
the men today in this camp, hunted down
and left behind the dead to its fate.
The old banyan tree swung in the wind
signaling the movement
the tamarind tree goes mute for having
given shadow to the bayonets bullets and guns
the maina flees elsewhere making her an alien
with the foul smell of vultures
working on the corpse remains
settled into the routine of overnight flight
a testimony of a revolution
what used to be civilians now with long boots tore
open the skull of human the green pastures turn into a war zone
sounds of fire replace the dance of the forest and the rain
we remain, counting the dead.
It obviously becomes a routine to save our lives
we are to flee in day and nights daily,
the green pastures testify
a war zone is born formidable
as iron and steel cannot fence
or any fire lit goes to identify
the shells fired endlessly making deaf and dumb
a right we the people truly forgot
the majesty of forest and rain entwined in our mind.
The casualty soars higher and high
one may lose the count of the dead
someone awaits the return of a father
others exclaim the thirteen mothers!
there bears no sign of being alive
as bullet passes through flesh
as easily as in space for the few who survived
a deadly oblivion awaits their fate sooner or later.
(A thirty-eight-year-old Dorla tribal widow from Maniknonta, Konta, Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, India. She is residing in a conflict hit relief camp.) *Maina- The bird known for human voice and a state bird
Bridal attire, gift boxes, blessings of holy tree
could not greet bride and groom
the shaking of the earth
the fire of the bombs
transmitted heinous crimes
the holy or the wish tree
ironically made a face
and perhaps wept as gifts
for this gracious act
failed to reach the ceremonial place
where did you go my little brother?
the silhouette of a wild shadow
canon-fodder for a venal civil administration
fighting for the truth; fighting for true freedom.
Come comrades; eat the poor person’s crumbs
give us our kingdom in the deep forests;
in return do not misplace our trust
and build arms to butcher clandestine accords.
The state is born, a new peace movement
the changing colour of power,
whoever wears the crown?
you both extort, you both kill
the land is ours; you aliens fight for it
as if we never were.
A civil war, the red crimson rules
destiny sealed in red tape
red light vehicles, red flag, red poster
declaration of red alert
red wine turns the red faces
under red tile roof red artery bleeds
red attire, red vermilion, red bangles greet
at the red urban slum,
the red-light area.
There was violence everywhere
shaking trees rooted in earth
with decibel of lightening rage
there were question marks
for enquiries some seeking
their just seen brother becomes
some senses terror and left to hurry on home
earlier than the sunsets.
Life changes, style matches
bottom of pyramids become more bottoms
the politics of power remains unchanged
in the last fifty years.
Our crime we do not take sides
guinea pigs, the region a testing dig.
(A fifty-eight-year-old Dorla tribal spinster from Pandikuda, Konta, Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, India. She is staying in a conflict hit relief camp.)
Mr. Basanta Kumar Kar: Fondly known as ‘Nutrition Man’, Mr. Basanta Kumar Kar is the author of three collection of poems in English. He is an international development professional who has won numerous accolades and has a broad experience of leading and managing large country and regional programs in South and South East Asia with demonstrable results. For outstanding contribution to the nutrition and poverty eradication endeavours; he was conferred with the most prestigious Global Nutrition Leadership Award(2019), NDTV Swachh And Swasth (Clean and Healthy) India ‘Hero of the Decade’ recognition (2019), Government of India recognition on contribution to the POSHAN Abhiyaan(2018), ‘Transform Nutrition Champion’ Award for India and Bangladesh(2016) and Odisha Living Legend Award (2016). He represents in numerous Board and Governance structures, policy, advisory and technical bodies in South Asia. He can be contacted at: email@example.com