Curfew: Day 51

Six migrant workers (were run over by a speeding
bus while on a 1000 km journey home, on foot)

This poem knows nothing of your suffering.
All it can be is a poor witness. A public record

book is more of a poem, it has your name,
your story, even the colour of your eyes before

the dreams were stolen from them. A poem is
just so a poet can breathe. Just a low portal

through which a caravan of gloom has passed
without stopping. This poem is the view through

a window pane while the inferno rages out of
sight. But the poet is so safe inside, so distanced

from the flames that he cannot even smell the
smoke. Yet, this poem wants to talk about the burns

on your skin and the scars on your being. Just so
a poet can still remember what it was like to feel.

we have walked together
for so long – reached different places
for so long

For the millions of migrant workers making their way back to villages and towns in the hinterland, thousands on foot,walking hundreds of kilometres, as livelihoods are destroyed during the lockdown and hunger becomes a greater threat than disease.

 

Also read:
Curfew: Day 50

40 thoughts on “Curfew: Day 51

  1. “A poem is just so a poet can breathe.” Yes, am not sure what I would do with my thoughts if I couldnt write them down. I think often of the migrants and how difficult their travels must be.

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  2. The thought of thousands of migrant workers walking such a long way, hungry and threatened by disease makes me feel guilty for being anxious about the lockdown, when I am safe at home and well looked after. Your poem made me cry, Rajani, especially the lines:
    ‘This poem knows nothing of your suffering.
    All it can be is a poor witness. A public record
    book is more of a poem, it has your name,
    your story, even the colour of your eyes before
    the dreams were stolen from them.’
    I think you’re right, ‘A poem is just so a poet can breathe.’

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    1. Yes, Kim… the humanitarian disaster that has unfolded leaves one with a lot of guilt. And there seems to be no end. The economic cost of this is going to be much worse than the health.

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  3. The suffering of the marginalized has been magnified horrifically during this pandemic. The holes in the societal safety net have never been bigger or clearer. I am often disgusted when people speak of “going back” because that wasn’t working for so many people. We need to go forward in a way that addresses the exposed inequalities in a real way.

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    1. So right, Rommy- we can’t go back, we have to find an equitable median. But that’s not going to happen, is it? We’ll just have a much more aggressive capitalism that will swallow any pangs anyone is feeling.

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  4. Thank you for bearing witness to these migrant workers who never made it home. Please don’t ever stop saying what you see, and speaking the truth in love.

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  5. it’s tragic, and often it is the poor who are left to fend for themselves.
    over here too, migrant workers form the largest group of infected persons due to the overcrowded conditions of the dorms they are living in. 😦

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    1. Yes, have been reading about that. It’s a shame how the existing inequalities have been allowed to be exacerbated during the pandemic. A collective failure across the world, pretty much.

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  6. This is so tragic 😦 especially moved by; “Yet, this poem wants to talk about the burns on your skin and the scars on your being. Just so a poet can still remember what it was like to feel.” 💟💔

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  7. The pain of others storms through me, and all I can do is try and find words, to record someone was seeing and listening.

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  8. Very well said. Some of the farms near where I live use migrant workers. I often wonder how they are treated. The farmers are often struggling themselves.
    ~Cie from Poetry of the Netherworld~

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Cara. The migrant workers in India are not foreigners…just interstate labour who follow jobs wherever they are available. Unfortunately the lockdown has affected livelihoods on a massive scale.

      Like

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