Anita Dewan

[Anita Dewan was a social worker who was raped and brutally murdered by hoodlums in Bantala, a poor neighborhood in suburban Calcutta]

I hear the cries time and again
Cries that my heart penetrate
Martyrs’ pulpit inside my body
Martyrs’ pulpit within my head.

Foul and filthy Bantala is but
Another Calcutta neighborhood
Three women are assaulted with
Three hundred men in pursuit.

Manhood now makes me shameful
Before myself I hang my head
The blood of the three women sits
In our conscience, still and dead.

Does Anita Dewan’s carcass
Make Civility feel some shame?
I have put my shame in song
You can, for yourself, do the same.

I hear cries time and again
Cries that my heart penetrate
Martyrs’ pulpit inside my body
Martyrs’ pulpit within my head.

The real mark of barbarism lies
In this silence of heads without torso
Calcutta, meanwhile, dances dirty,
Celebrates three hundred years or so.

Your enjoyment puts me to shame
A shame that is too, too dogged
Martyrs’ pulpit inside my body
Martyrs’ pulpit within my head.

There’s blood in your new apartments
In water faucets, at dusk and dawn,
It’s the blood of raped women that flows,
Blood telling tales of the land goes on.

Look! it’s blood upon the snack-bar,
On your mutton-roll! it’s blood
It is, again, sprinkled blood that
My bowl of fish curry floods.

The same invisible blood has now
The flag of the same color wetted
The colored world of politics
Is stained in blood unabetted.

Anita Dewan’s blood will not
Erase itself, it is so obstinate
Martyrs’ pulpit inside my body
Martyrs’ pulpit in my head.

Blood is on your raga Malkosh
Blood is in your music chambers
The harmonium’s wet with blood
Blood rehearses melodic numbers.

Blood stains your culture and
Blood is in your juvenile memory
There’s blood even in Tagore-songs
Rape becomes your identity.

Covering blood with painted design
Is that your civilized barbarity?
I am of the same order, too,
I am Calcutta; the mega-city.


Sudipto Chatterjee

New York University

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