They Didn’t Come to Worship at Your Throne

Farmers at Singhu border. December 2020 (Photo: Ullekh NP)

You see them from behind concertina wires at lunchtime

They tuck into their traditional breads like lions at their feast

The scent of clarified butter tickles your palate through the nose

The intimate bond of the hot slow-cooked meal

Eternal smiles of the countryside, chiseled and benign

They’ve come from afar, like trains after long, sleepless runs

Tractors hauling huge trolleys with farmers and food

They’ve brought their salt, condiments, grains, onions, tomatoes

Large cooking vessels and ladles as old as grandma’s dowry

Intrepid red turbans of pride, wind in their shawls, tenor’s voice

Biceps of hard work, muscles built on fields of corn

Lanky figures in loose garments, young, old, avuncular

They unknot their long tresses for matutinal ablutions

Dormitories inside the trolleys, dried grass under the beds

Medics doling out drugs for the needy, students taking e-classes

Full-day communal kitchens, makeshift homes

Nobody will go home empty-handed

Beware the fury of patient men taken for a ride

Back home, they toil all day, sleep well, eat well

Wake them at odd hours, you touch a raw nerve

Determination sautéed in wisdom, moral courage

Long facial hair, antediluvian aura, thoughtful forehead

Forever caught in the upheaval of empires, old and new

Pandemic, teargas shells and water cannons

Power cannot still fathom power’s potholes

These wiry men are razor sharp

Laconic, silent, argumentative, they adapt easily

Protests are like fire, protesters icy steel

©Ullekh NP

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