India achieved independence in 1947. But was freedom really won? Here’s a commentary on the Indian republic by the Tamil poet R Parthasarathy.
The peacock is the national bird of India.
(translated from Tamil)
Having spelt it out in blood,
they were determined
to rouse the nation,
put an end
to the oppression and bungling.
Going to the forest
once, for game
a hyena ran into them
like a storm;
a viper, a whip-snake and a python,
their mouths close to the ground,
fed themselves without stirring;
a lion’s tumultous roar
shattered to bits the four corners
of the world.
Returning, they staggered along,
hands trembling, legs faltering;
saw peacocks, and were thrilled.
Thinking, ‘Its pointless begging,
one must trespass;
its no good asking, one must grab’;
a few plucked the tail
with its thousand eyes
and returned overjoyed,
shooing off, with feathers,
poverty, disease, sorcery, witchcraft,
exclaiming, ‘Begone, go away.’
Others pulled its tongue out,
thinking it to be a specific.
And still others, ‘The peacock’s neck is ours’,
broke it and hurried off.
The rest tore its body to shreds,
claiming, ‘Its ours too’,
roasted it and ate it.
As they turned homewards,
the inarticulate land