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A MOVING SONG OF THE MIDDLE CLASS (poem) - Geet Chaturvedi - India - Poetry International
 
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A MOVING SONG OF THE MIDDLE CLASS
This is one of the rhymes
Taught in Shri Guru Gobind Singh Hindi Primary School
One of the quavering anthems of olden days sung by those
Now addressed as ma-baba-grandma
It is someone's idea of fun or pastime, rhythmnon-rhythmmarching-rhythm
Oh look, the vermilion-anointed forehead of the Queen is still the same
Or to all of history it shows the power of the power game.
This is the broad formula of Eastern metaphysics 
That everyone has to die one day.
Oops! In the rhyme-story invoked at the end,
No one among the three died dawdling, they died
Doing their work, hup ho! they died fighting their war, bravo!
Why isn’t there a word like martyr for them – bearing such a placard
Was the man who just passed by me, named
Swami Varg-Chaitanya Kirti-Akankshi 1008¹
Like our tribal poet, Bhujang Meshram²
I too had asked innocently 
About Sivakasi³ the city that makes firecrackers 
Why doesn’t its childhood ever go away?
The less the IQ, the better the poem would be; life too.
I say, wherever you have to live, take retirement from there;
In so doing, you’d derive the pleasure of a duplex house :-)
Dear me, no!
This is not a classroom struggle between Class 1-A and 1-B
This struggle is intricate, as cryptic as my class-map.
To present anything the way it is, would be against our customs
So the way I’ve come to office in my Bermudas and t-shirt
(I warned you this would happen)
The same way in this preshentation I päshte
A moving song of my middle class, read carefully:
 
The King died in the war he fought
The Queen died in the cooking pot
The Children died studying a lot . . .
 
 
 
 
 

Translator's Note: 1. Swami Varg-Chaitanya Kirti-Akankshi 1008: A satirical name that literally means, “A class-conscious, fame-aspiring swami.” 1008: In the Hindu tradition, certain numbers like 18, 108, 1008 are considered important. This alludes, among other things, to the number of chakras or energy centres in the human system. Consequently, the numbers 108 or 1008 are sometimes appended to the names of the holy men, the sadhus and the swamis as a mark of respect. The greater the number, the more respected the sadhu. 2. Bhujang Meshram: A Marathi poet of high standing from the state of Maharashtra. He was a pre-eminent figure in the Marathi Dalit-tribal poetry movement. 3. Sivakasi: A city in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India, known for its firework factories and high level of child labour in these unsafe environments.