the backbone of this country–
its little bones arranged like
the dance of a snake,
is a stalk of wheat
golden shells that grow from golden mud
in a golden sun,
to put rotis on tawas
that bloom like parachutes
carrying the warmth of ancient mud
into our stomachs
and feed us food.
tell me, are you anything
without the cells in your body–
those cells are irrigated in big fields
packed and brought to mandis
by people who dig the earth
like they want to keep it alive.
tell me, if the ones who dig have nothing to eat
and shed more tears than sweat in the soil–
won’t the cells in your body shiver?
won’t you feel like
you don’t have a spine?
Antara Rao Yadavalli is pursuing a Master’s in Sociology from Delhi School of Economics.