Gandhiji

A ripe smile on his face
And under his feet
The joy of a crore sacrifices;
Putting his life on the line
He had the courage
In his heart
To jump into fire.

Undaunted by a stomach filled with hunger
His feet had the capacity
To stride on undettered.
Wearing a slip of cloth woven by his own hand
That barely covered his knees
He could face bullets
With a piece of stick.

Holding fast his two bones
He could turn the other cheek
When one was hit.
Sometimes rapt in the hum of his dear ones
Sometimes in the harshest fast
Without food or water
One is awe struck
By how
One hungry man
Could dream the dreams
Of an entire nation
Of mankind itself
How easily he could solve
The most intractable problems.

Bearing soil-loads of
capability
He built a road of Ahimsa;
But how many tread that path today?
Loading all responsibility, blame and praise
On his head;
We have gone our way
Shoring up our store
Of happiness and wealth.
The sandalwood forest
Of our soul
Is overrun by demons
Our begging bowl
Is filled with the alms
Of overseas terror;
Our forests, fields and water
Are burning with conflicts.
So much so
That we have flung away
Even our own rights,
Ideals and beliefs,
And the very mantra of our life.

(Translated into English from Odia by Purabi Das)

Purabi Das is a Joint Director (Public Relations), Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC). Das is a noted author, translator, and former Journalist.