Lounge Original: ‘A Poem for Jyoti Pandey’ by Akhil Katyal
‘A Description of People’ (‘Ek Samuh Ka Vivaran’)—a poem in both English and Hindi by Akhil Katyal—is dedicated to Jyoti Pandey and the call to collective action that swept through India with her death
A description of people
for Jyoti Pandey
I remember that day
six years back, exiting
the CS metro station, and stumbling
into a sea of feet. The sky was
an odd, intrepid blue.
A few days before,
a bus near Munirka had stumbled
into black, making the city
grow a new limb
At Rajpath, the first thing I see -
a girl has climbed up a lamp-post,
she has caught the South Block
between her forefinger and thumb
and her shout has licked the sky clean.
nine school-girls, in uniform,
have come after a FB post had told them -
‘if not now, then when; if not you,
then who’. One of them carries a polythene bag
with a water-bottle, two text books
Behind them, a group of four women,
fortyish, friends, black arm bands and
plastic green bangles on their wrists,
look up at the lamp-post, cheer the girl on
and eat the salt of her air.
Racing past them on a black Pulsar,
two boys, early twenties, kalawa-wristed,
on the number plate, letters, numerals
and caste name, race up and down
the road, looking quizzically at the banner
that says something about Manipur.
A journalist files her report,
saying into the camera ‘…yes, the crowd
is mostly middle-class but…’
Next to her, a DU girl carries a banner that
asks for the moon for her city.
Around her, a few thousand
write ‘Justice’ on the asphalt
as the water-canons
are readied behind them.
Akhil Katyal is a poet based in Delhi. He recently translated Ravish Kumar’s Ishq Mein Shahar Hona as A City Happens In Love (Speaking Tiger).
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