Anand Patwardhan

At the side of the road, dead cattle
Abandoned in the night
By hands that cannot claim
Water from the well.
Silent figures bearing their load
The fresh carcass of an old cow
Holy, but nevertheless sold
To one whose sin is pre-ordained.
Dark figures nursing their hate
Tongues held in sullen waiting
The impotent rage of men
Forced to believe themselves unclean.
Silent figures depositing their gift
Taking in the familiar smell
With the satisfaction of knowing
It will soon become unbreathable.
At the side of the road, dead cattle
Abandoned by night
Will lie for days.

[The author, Anand Patwardhan is an Indian documentary filmmaker well known for his socio-political, human rights oriented films. He republished his above poem (written between 1972 and 1974) in July 2016 as a tribute to the inspiring Dalit response to the Hindutva atrocity against Dalits in Gujarat.]

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