The Nishada

Poet – Zehra Kazmi 


The dark men of the forest,

Their soot covered hands

These men who speak funny,

Voices-screechy, squeaky and weak.

The women who cry

The children who starve

The sickness, the squalor, 

Their godforsaken, miserable existence.


Black gold beneath their feet,

No roof above their heads.

The smoke of the deep pit

The dark, endless abyss

Of smoke and gold.

Gold as black as coal.


The fierce red sindoor,

On her forehead

Now smudged clean

Red came for him.


Red strikes fear into her core

They shout “Freedom.”

The word holds no meaning, no significance, no depth for her brain.

The native’s slow, numb, stupid brain.

At least, that is what she has been taught.

Her institutionalized marginalisation

Blamed on her own people.

She feels that same haunting fear

Her footsteps move faster,

Her breathing grows heavier,

Dejá vù. 

This is not the first time

When strange men from distant lands

Have come to burn her village

They say they are the State

A State that wants to rape and rehabilitate.


The citizens,

The citizens.

The ethnically distinct race.


50% quota in a university far off

No primary school in sight.


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