The Controlled Conclusion

The sheep in us stood in line
Eerily synchronous row after row
We start that way in school
Imagination anchored down
Bounded and interrupted
Lauded for the art of memorisation
Sheaves of paper storing scripts
Sacredly similar in the production line
As life moves us forward
We adopt the easy technique
The learn-by-heart formula
Brains dwarfed with ‘repeat after me’
Each one with similar thoughts
The same echo reflected
In the zillion hands which scribble
Identical answers without conviction.

None daring to tear
Pre-written scripts
Set out by social norms
Set out by people in control
The writer in us
The poet in us
The painter in us
The rebel in us–
All smothered.
We learnt to put commas
And full stops where told
We never learn to question
And the one who do
Garner the troublemaker status
The raised eyebrow of derision
The heavy hand of isolation
An easy tool to cull the quell.
After all, questions marks
Get used lesser than all other
Punctuation marks.

Pundits of language mull over
The morose progress report
Countless children are failing
Their first language in schools
Generational survival put on hold
Without basic language skills
The khaki group with power
The ones who thrive on ignorance
The ones against free thinking
The ones devising every ending
Know that muzzling of people
With knowledge
With the power to understand
With the power to reason
With fire in their souls.
With questions on set wordplays
Will be a formidable task
A fertilised mind, after all,
Will not be aligned to manipulation.

A mind not part of a directionless herd
Can negotiate the discomfiting truth
These are learned minds
Given to ripping set doctrines
Exposing the peddling of lies
Mocking the dream sellers
These are the spirited lives
Who cannot be stamped out
Quite easily, that is
Not without shouting
A last battle cry.

But the ones brainwashed
Puppets with no perspective
Balancing on strings
Mostly nodding along
And dancing at tandem
Wanting to be led on a leash
Evermore blaming life on fate
Eagerly lapping up the crumbs
Thrown for appeasement
Happy to be fed on perceptions
Happy to echo obedience
Stifling grandiose conscience.
While swiping the plastic card
Paying a paltry hundred and ten
For a litre of petrol.

This lack of understanding
For the fascists
Is the foot board
The hallmark of ease
For moving
The uninitiated,
The uneducated
The unaware
Towards subservience
Ignorance being a tested formula
Will keep manikins tied and helpless
In a place set out for them
While a sheep once enlightened
Would have turned into a tiger
Knowing that on a grain of rice
That feeds an hungry stomach
Is writ no religion, caste or race
Nor too on that life blood
Which courses down our veins
These will stand unwilling
To sell their rights
For a square meal
Or for votes.

Rachel George is retired college lecturer.

Featured image: Pariplab Chakraborty