Poetry for the Bhopalis

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On the second night of the hunger strike there was a poetry reading under the plump moon and yellow sodium vapor lights. Several different supporters read and sang their work, and Sathyu, despite not eating, gave an exceptionally heartfelt reading of a poem of his.
The following are English translations of two poems written and read in Hindi, along with photos of the poets reading:
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by Mohan Muntazir Bisht
Belong to someone who has no one
and see
Come cry for someone else’s pain
Who says flowers of happiness
do not bloom?
Plant a seed of love
and see
Those who stab us in the chest
as they smile
May they poke themselves with a thorn
and see how it feels.
Better than setting water on fire
is to irrigate the desert with an ocean
You have been swimming
on the seas
and what have you got?
Drown yourself once and see what you get.
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by Sathyu
I am a rabid optimist.
For me
Every tree that continues to stand,
Every stream that continues to flow,
Every child that runs away from home,
Is an indication
That the battle
is not only on,
It is being won.
Possibly you will tell me
about the nuclear arms race,
And all I can tell you
is that
An unknown child
held my hand
with love.
You will try to draw me
into the plateau of practical life
Tell me
that not only God but all the religious
and non-religious leaders
are dead.
And all I can tell you
is that
across the forest lives a young man
who calls the earth
his mother.
You will give me the
boring details of the rise of state power
after every revolution
And all I can tell you
is that
in our tribe
we still share
our bread.
You will reason with me
And I will talk nonsense like this.
And because the difference between reason and poetry
Is the difference between breathing and living life,
I will read poems to you.
Poems full of optimism.
Poems full of dreams.
Maybe poems better than this one.

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