I Pray to You by Preeti Vangani


Artwork by Sonaksha Iyengar


For all of India’s students fighting CAA and NRC


you, student of resistance, unfurling a banner thrice your chest

*

you, forming a fence with the unwavering flag of your body

*

the blue in your long line of blood, lines of blood

streaking your skin penetrated by the state's bullet

*

the nerve in your eye holding back its water in the face of tear gas

*

and the whip from their stick, and the whip from their stick,

and the stick you duck, the one you couldn't, and the bruise

that will darken tomorrow

*

Tomorrow is another sponsored history textbook

that will white-out your name, this day, it's souls and slogans

sab taaj uchale jaenge

sab takht girae jaenge

*

My forehead kisses the floor of your courage

five times a day, and six and seven.

*

There is no internet shutdown, no cut off, no curfew

than can stop a prayer that begins and ends with no.

*

may the static of your bullhorn enlarge

your spirit-voices, deafen the ears

of those parliamentary beasts in murderous thrones

*

I imagine them muting you when you are on TV,

them licking their fingers at dinner

as they wipe clean our democracy morsel by morsel

*

there you are, and you, and you, challenging

our cold capital sky with portraits of Ambedkar and Gandhi

I worship you as I do

churchgoers who hold up their children to the blankness above us

*

tonight I wrap myself in your muslin message --

painted with inquilab in all our recognized and unrecognized tongues

*

weave a rosary with your trembling voice, your lost voice,

your repeating chorus

jo Hitler ki chaal chalega, woh Hitler ki maut marega

*

you, who have stirred again, the melancholy asleep in Faiz's Subh-e-Azadi

*

and you, dear Faiz, I beg you for a new war cry

*

you are all my gods. you are all citizens

in the cathedral of my faith-finding heart

*

each of you, a country

in my 37.2 trillion celled body,

the only country

I want to wake up in


Read Preeti's latest book Mother Tongue Apologize here or follow her work on Facebook.

 
 

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