Redemption

By Sanam Sharma
Democracy poem on Right Now

They will instruct you to shed your clothes,
for the colour of your attire,
may resemble the shades of a flag.
You don’t belong to a nation – they will tell you.
You belong to a religion.

Then,
they will try to squeeze your stripped body,
into a box with others who share your sect.
Refuse to wriggle into it. Place your feet against its doors,
as they drag you in.
Resist.

They will try to burn a symbol too, across
your chest. To lend you an identity. Then,
they will usher you onwards,
into a dusty stable that will smell, much
like your own charred skin.
You are amongst your own people – they will assure you.
You would have no reason to doubt them,
for when you glance across that stable, you
will all share the same scars.

If you ever tried to escape, they
will capture you, and poke your
half-healed wounds. Only to remind you of
an atrocious past. They will
make you squeal in agony, until you
utter the slogans they want to hear.
That – you don’t belong to a nation. You belong to a religion.

Don’t be fooled. It’s a scam.
To line you up and blind-fold you, before
they make you walk a mile, up to a silent room,
next to an iron throne, and urge you to vote, for
the next ‘Monarch’.
Pause for a moment in that room, before you write a name.
Tear apart your blindfold, and, wrap yourself in that flag once again,
that they made you shun.
Whisper to yourself – You belong to a nation.

Then, once you’ve cast your choice,
ask for the fingernail on your middle finger,
to be smeared with black ink. As you leave,
hold up that painted middle finger,
to your captors, and, walk back to your freedom.
Come, let’s redeem a democracy

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