Sunday, May 03, 2009

Songs of sympathy, 1

Last night I cried in a movie
You cry, if that's all you can do
Last week I stopped reading a book
It hurt too much to see it through
There's bitterness there's misery
Things going wrong in my homeland
I fret but I don't do much more
It is not easy to take a stand
Besides, there are consequences
To building worlds better and free
'Coz somewhere up in Raipur jail,
A man is in for sympathy.

I saw a girl with legs splayed wide
She must have been eight or nine
She had a baby on her hips
She touched my arm then touched her lips
I knew her from everyday touch
She liked my hands, stroked my watch
She says, will you give something today?
Maybe tomorrow? But no, I say

Don't ask again, I will not pay
Don't tell me that you're hungry.
It's been two years in Raipur jail
A man is in for sympathy.

Men sit on streets with cut off arms
They crawl to thrust your shame at you
You toss a coin but not always
They don't even expect you to
There are no rights about these things
Nobody has the right to ask
That you set this country right
To bring people out of the dark
You have a life, so you're afraid.
No reason why you shouldn't be.
'Coz somewhere up in Raipur jail
A man is in for sympathy.

I heard two girls on prime time speak
The newspaper went on all week
About long years of rape at home
We talked about it on the phone
This strange beast they call incest
This man who wasn't just a guest
Where do you go when danger sleeps
In your bed and it's yours for keeps
How does a child escape and where
How to start over when she's free?
And somewhere up in Raipur jail
A man is in for sympathy.

Tonight I'll watch a DVD
A story sweet and sad and blue
I'll cry for people dead and gone
And for the times we fail the truth
But I'll remember not to howl
No screaming, shouting, nothing loud
About rage or incessant pain
Not a word of blood or shroud
There are too many ears around
And not enough eyes that see
That somewhere up in Raipur jail
A man is in for sympathy.

[I wrote it for we all know who. But mostly, to try and figure out the nature of the crime of sympathy]


D said...

That was beautifully written Annie. Every word of that rings true, being so much not just about you but all of us. Sad, but true.

Banno said...

That hits so hard. All of us chase entertainment all the time, I know I do, anything to escape the pangs of sympathy.

bluespriite said...

Loved it. Completely. Your work has a way of making the reader squirm..I like that quality. Don't ever let it go away.

me1084 said...


Anivar said...

Hi Just seen a Tamil Translation of your poem Here. Got it as a Backlink on

The Activist said...

Hi fellow Blogher Scholarship winner. I am so looking forward to seeing you in Chicago.

Nice thought provoking poem.

dipali said...

This was so hard hitting and so true.

ProudCanine said...

Binayak Sen is the Leonard Peltier of India.

minnie vaid said...

just read ur poem while researching some stuff on binayak, very moved. may i mail u pl ? i am a writer and docu film maker based in mumbai, would like to get in touch with minnie vaid

Annie Zaidi said...

thanks, all.
minnie, yes, of course. mail me at and we'll exchange contact details.

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