By Paromita Mukherjee
Perched on a treetop, Azad Singh listened intently to the politician’s address
The leader promised every problem of the farmers he would redress
Azad wished to believe all these well-meaning promises would materialize
But for the past five years in his village no development had crystallized.
They still lived in darkness, sweated in the fields night and day
To reach the fields was an agony as there was nothing in the name of a way
The politician visited the village only before elections
For which patchy roads were built in record time
But as soon the villagers cast their votes
The local politician rushed to parliament to raise nation’s hope
But to his own constituency’s problems he didn’t provide any antidote.
For the past five years Azad had slogged and slogged
The arduous toil in the fields made his whole body throb.
He still couldn’t feed the stomach of his family of a dozen
Hunger, rain, pain, broken roofs, lack of water had become their burden.
Tomorrow Azad’s elder daughter would be married to a pot-bellied wealthy money-lender
The result of Azad failing to repay the money that the lender had tendered.
Azad spent hours pondering how he could save his daughter from this plight
But after sleepless nights no rescue came to his sight.
Perched on the treetop he had hoped his local leader would grant some money
To all the farmers whose crop had been destroyed by rains sudden and heavy.
The leader kept on talking about the steps he had taken to ensure his constituency’s growth
But Azad couldn’t comprehend why these fictitious steps could not resolve his woes.
The oppressive heat, sweat and the humming voice of the leader was lulling him to sleep
To escape from falling he tied his cotton towel to a branch steep
For hours he listened, but at last his stomach, empty for days put him to sleep.
In his dreams Azad dreamt of sumptuous feasts for his family, a pucca house
A handsome groom for his daughter with all his woes vanishing into clouds
Azad dreamt of sleeping peacefully after years
His fields brimming with ripe yield and his family in cheer.
Lost in this perfect vision Azad’s body swayed forward
The towel tied to the branch his breathing swiftly haltered
He couldn’t shout for help, his eyes dilated
Slowly his lifeless body slumped forward
The crowd looked at this spectacle, a life that was now dormant.
Someone climbed the tree and brought the body down
Soon tongues wagged debating whether this was suicide or an accident.
This news of a death however could not put in the leader’s heart a dent
He went on discussing future prospects of the constituency
He couldn’t let go of his rally because of a man who had died inconspicuously.
The crowd felt sorry till the leader’s cronies whisked the body away
They again concentrated on the leader’s speech that was underway
The crowd knew they would be rewarded for their presence in the rally monetarily
So they did not let their hearts sway to Azad’s plight even temporarily.
Azad’s corpse finally reached his ramshackle home
His family outrightly his suicide condoned
The only person who shed tears for the hapless dead man
Was his daughter who believed Azad had sacrificed his life
As he couldn’t unwillingly her marriage to that lender authorize
She was relieved that her father true to his name at last was free from his life traumatized.
NOTE: This poem is a fictionalized rendition of a recent true incident where a political party’s rally took a tragic turn when a farmer from Dausa, Rajasthan, distressed by damage to his crops and burdened by debt, ended his life by hanging himself from a tree. What made the death more poignant was the suspicion that he may not have intended to commit suicide and may have accidentally killed himself. The death of the farmer had triggered a political row because even after he was brought down from the tree and rushed to the hospital, the rally wasn’t called off.
Paromita Mukherjee Ojha is a voracious reader, blogger, painter; mostly on the move having worked with corporate houses in the past. Currently on a sabbatical and awaiting doctoral degree. She has been associated with various Editorial Boards of in-house college magazines by virtue of being Assistant Professor of English/soft skills. Publications include multiple papers on varied topics of Management and English Literature in reputed national and international journals. Poems and short stories published in Readomania, Learning and Creativity. A short story has been selected to be part of an anthology conceived by Readomania and Delhi Literature Festival due out in October. Paromita is a participating poet to a poetry anthology titled, Umbilical Chords. She aspires to write a novel sometime in the near future. Regularly expresses her thoughts on paromitamukherjeeojha.wordpress.com. Twitter: @Paromita2906
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