Poem

Ellen van Neerven
every small protest counts

in solidarity with the Shaheen Bagh women

 

ACCOMPANY your children
ADMINISTER biryani to those
braving the cold and rain
ADVOCATE for freedom
“Aazadi!” the children cry
APPLY music to the streets
ASSUME those who are here know the words
a song is not a song unless it’s sung by many
BELONG a woman’s place is in the revolution
CHAIN together
CLAIM songs of your ancestors
CLUTCH justice
COMPEL more than ordinary language
ordinary action
ordinary routine
DEADLOCK lifelock
it began with just four women
millions have joined
DECOLONISE with poetry
DEMONSTRATE joy in inclusivity
DISCRIMINATE against the recent past
our future will be better
DIVIDE bread among the crowd
ENACT solidarity
with Indigenous groups and Muslims
ENTER the House of Power
don’t wait for an invitation
EXPEL police violence
FIGHT be a part!
every small protest counts

The Down Troddence sing
FLY like the Shaheen falcon
GRANT this an open-air art gallery
IMAGINE no one afraid to speak
be radical in your imaginings
INFLICT maximum damage to oppressive ideologies
INSTITUTE the sentiments of women
INTRODUCE libraries
LEAD spontaneous art-making
MAKE kolams
MOBILISE against majoritarian bullying
NARRATE your own stories
NOTIFY the Dadis are singing
in the streets of Shaheen Bagh

the Dadis are singing
in the streets of Tamil Nadu

the Dadis are singing
in the streets of Punjab

the Dadis are singing
in the streets of West Bengal

the Dadis are singing
in the streets of Uttar Pradesh

the Dadis are singing
OCCUPY walls with posters and art
PASS candles
PLEDGE hunger
POLITICISE your visibility
PRAY together
PROTEST internet shutdowns, transport restrictions, curfews, systematic exclusion and killings
PROVE “I can show you the names of my last seven generations” – Asma Khatun, 90
READ for revolution
she will never give up reading again
REFUSE to speak the language of your detractors
RENDER this is the land where I was born
let this be the land where I will die

a child works on a poster
RESCUE female students shown protecting male students from violence
RESIDE in the sit-in
in the strength of community
RESPOND with holding your head high
SHRINK not yourself, but hate
STATE what is unconstitutional
STIPULATE religion is not a condition of citizenship
TAKE solace
VIOLATE not one person or animal
WAIT don’t wait
for a change to come

Ellen van Neerven
is a Mununjali Yugambeh writer and the author of Heat and Light and Comfort Food. Their new collection of poetry, Throat, will be published in May.

Our journalism is founded on trust and independence

Register your email for free access or log in if you already subscribe

      Keep Reading                 Subscribe