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Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)
Thursday, 30 March 2017 09:25

Resurrection Koyamparambath - Satchidanandan

In memory of Com Varghese, radical tribal activist murdered by the police in Kerala

(Once upon a time — in 1978 to be precise — I had written a poem for a selfless communist who had taught the tribal people of Wayanad in Kerala to stand up and fight for their basic human rights , and was killed by the police in a fake encounter. Later the police constable who had shot him in cold blood, bitten by remorse, confessed to his crime and exposed the police lie that the revolutionary had been killed in an encounter. His name was Comrade Varghese and the adivasis addressed him as Peruman, meaning the Great Man or Mahatma. Now the present rulers of Kerala — who also claim to be communists — and whose post-Emergency ascendancy to power had something to do with the resentment that followed the murder of Varghese and who have turned Che Guevara into their poster-boy have informed the court that Varghese was a rioter, dacoit and criminal wanted in many cases and the police had rightly killed him in an ‘Encounter’. Here is an English version of that tribute to a ‘criminal and dacoit’ I had written four decades ago. (I wrote another poem, Enthinu Veendum, (Why Again) after the confession of that police constable : I do not have a translation of it yet.)

This evening two new stars

rose over the Brahmagiri hills.

Once they were a man’s eyes.

This evening the drops of the first rain

drenched our ballads of heroism.

Once they were a man’s words.

The first witnesses to this resurrection

was a wind descending the valley

and a squirrel in the woods of Tirunelli.

A confused lamb grazing the quiet meadows

of Panavalli stared in awe at the

heavy footsteps following her.

A lean dark Paniya tribal girl

picking tea leaves that brim with

the valour of her ancestors smiled

in recognition on seeing the familiar

handsome figure of the Man on the Cross.

Now a determined farmer growing uneasy gold

on the banks of Tejaswini raises his head

hearing your voice trembling with love.

You initiate the fishermen’s children

on the banks of Kaveri writing for them

their first letters in your luminous blood.

You suddenly appear behind the awakened

miners of Rajhara and gently whisper

in their keen ears: Comrade!

On the blood-throne of the Naga hills

a guerrilla fighter surprised by an arm’s warmth

on his shoulder kisses your long shade

to forget his weariness. The copper ores

of Venezuela, those frozen clots of Indian blood,

flush at the touch of your passionate breath.

You light up the eyes of the wild cat

In the tobacco plantations of Brazil.

The guards of the White House get perplexed

at the sight of a lean Malayali with a flag

and a gun bursting forth from nowhere

to lead an Afro-American demonstration.

They find you mourn the retreating spring

in the Red Square and Tiananmen, hugging

the betrayed offspring of revolutions and

shouting at the new Tsars: ‘You, cheats!

Vietnam sets you brooding.

You come back from your globetrotting

to listen to the nervous tolling of the church-bells.

Priests cover their eyes with holy mantles

and lock the doors while scared rulers

strengthen their security.

And you, you give the blind the eyes of history,

rouse the dead with the victim’s desperate courage,

walk undaunted on the sea of endless pain,

turn the water of timidity into the wine of hope,

baptise the young in self-knowledge,

and raise your whip against the merchants of death.

You open your heart and the dried up rivers

of love that unites the oppressed overflows,

your smile welds together parted ways.

You learn, you teach, you are betrayed.

Your followers draw lots on your clothes.

Yet we discover you again

in the green searing pungency of our pepper,

in the juicy sweetness of our sugar cane,

the liquid lust of our coffee,

in the dancing silver of our streams,

in the frozen gold of our clay.

We know you are back from the cross

not for forty days of preaching

and an ascension spoiled by melodrama.

You won’t be appeased by olive branches

nor by golden chalices. You will be

stopped neither by black hosannas

nor by stone-crosses. You have come

to stay the glory of every song,

to resound from drums and trumpets

to leap up from flutes and lyres,

to live forever, to struggle,

forever to lead

Forever.

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