When We Learnt Not To Bow - Poem by Prateep Sengupta
Forty families in each apartment
Seven apartments in the complex,
The houses were mine and yours
The promoter had poetically
Named it Vibgyor.
He lived in one of the flats,
We all avoided him
Not because he came from the suburbs
But that he wished to be intimate,
He bothered for a social life.
He was our neighbour,
Many of us did not know
Each other's name
But he was known to all
For his efforts to make us live
A well-knit gregarious life.
They were all my neighbours
Many of us did not know
One another's name
But we knew the faces
And whenever we met on the approach road
Casual smile of acquaintance
On our lips gestured.
"I hoped nothing will happen to me"
This hope deluded me and all my neighbours
But he said it was time for collective act
Lest danger strikes any of us.
None of us actually bothered
Till, for no fault,
One neighbour was killed.
It was dusk and he was about to enter inside Vibgyor
When from our residential flats
We heard the sound of the blast
But none dared,
Either to go out a few steps
Nor opened the windows.
The fact that a neighbour was murdered
Reached us at night
When we were surfing the net.
It was among the trivial news indeed
There were global and national headlines
Recession in USA,
Hillary Clinton's visit, Taliban terror strike,
Rupee sliding to dollar and fuel price hike.
It barely made us to think of protest.
Though he came again
Calling each of us at night
That something must be done.
Most of us refused even to open our doors
Though internet widened the global horizon
Our minds narrowed and
Doors were shut for neighbours.
The eunuch in each of us
Reminded of our own safety
And we all refused to sing
To his scheme of collective protest and resistance.
The murder of a neighbour barely made us feel
The danger that ahead waited
For all of us.
The only man from the suburban life
Who tried to awaken in us
The sense of a social life and
The need of a collective fight
Was also killed three days after.
Internet was once again to reveal
Why was he killed,
We mourned but felt relaxed too
Nobody would now try to awaken in us
The need of a united fight against a force
Which for all is the common evil.
Hardly a week lapsed
In broad daylight our apartments were attacked
Loot and arson, bombs and gunshots
Our residential colony turned to a battle field
When finally with our back on the wall and nowhere to go
We learnt to stand by one another in the perilous hour
To jointly fight back the evil and never to bow.
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