Police use water canon and tear gas to control demonstrators during a protest at Vijay Chowk, following a brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi on 22 December 2012. Photo: Hindustan Times
Police use water canon and tear gas to control demonstrators during a protest at Vijay Chowk, following a brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi on 22 December 2012. Photo: Hindustan Times

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 Katyalis dedicated to Jyoti Pandey and the call to collective action that swept through India with her death

A description of people

(Delhi, December)

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

of people.

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.

Below her,

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

and anger.

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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