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).