The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

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A protest poem by Nalini, dedicated to social activist Arundhati Roy. Here’s an intense political verse, in Different Truths.

How can you do that?
Have a mind of your own
and a dissident voice
that does not conform to
the standards of saffron brigade
and speak it out aloud while you stand tall
unsparing, bold, and intrepid
unbeaten by the sexist slurs they mount?

Are you aware of the one-way ticket
to Pakistan nestled in their khaki pockets
they roll surreptitiously between their fingers
with your name on it?
Or their intention to use you as a human shield
for army looking to save their sorry asses?

As they weave narratives of misogyny,
insecurity and mistrust
the fallen gods of things neither big nor small
derive voyeuristic pleasure from dissecting
your life and beliefs
and those of your mother
and offer it to the “middle-class pursuing polyester dreams”
as fodder of hatred

In a country where it’s safer to be a cow
than a woman, to be
stridently anti-establishment
survive the ceaseless patrolling of “the borders
of your happiness” and dream of eating
“mangoes in the moonlight”
is to spring hope in the breasts of countless

in the Ministry of Utmost Happiness

©Nalini Priyadarshani

Photos from the internet.

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Nalini Priyadarshni is the author of Doppelganger in My House (2016) and co-author of Lines across Oceans (2015). Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and international anthologies. Her forthcoming publications include ‘Sacred Women in the Anti-violence movement: Anthology’, Caged Bird Magazine and ‘Your One Phone Call’.