Dr Tapan Kumar Pradhan (October 22,1972 / Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India)
The shrill long siren of a distant factory
Momentarily drowns the cacophony of crows;
Relentless shouting of slogans in the street -
A sparrow, suddenly, twitters. Horizon clears:
Bleary-eyed school children huddle in uniforms
Startled by the fresh-polished sparkle of their shoes,
At the square
People are already thronging the barricades
Looking at the flagstaff, steady arrival of jeeps,
Men in white kurtas, sparkle of brass bands, waiting…
A mad jeep speeds through the crowded street, scattering
Coloured pamphlets like bubbles of soap:
The sun n-o-w comes up. Soon, Freedom will come, soon!
An old man with ghoulish eyes crouches by the drains
Munching a green twig, and watches in silence
A street dog, impatiently, barks.
The old man is counting his sixty years perhaps.
The crowd grows slowly - suddenly, restless.
A rag-picker picks up the red green pamphlets
From the roadside, eagerly, looking both ways:
the old man coughs,
and watches foolishly, still counting his sixty years,
arrival of more jeeps, neat men in white kurtas,
ruddy sparkle of brass bands, children reeling off
well-rehearsed slogans -
at seven-thirty sharp
the tricolour unfurls.
(On the 60th Anniversary of India's Independence)
White kurta - garment usually worn by Indian politicians
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