To Rohith Vemula

Still, God doesn’t sleep on the sand.
At midnight the stray dogs died
shivering in cold
and a human child born near the street lamp
her mother pricking the stale bread.
Neither the dog nor the baby feels
India is a developed nation.

God has got a pedigree here
Which god?
Depends on who is in power.
Haven’t you found all of them the same –
demanding, ambitious and cunning
conning the narrative
demanding demolition and construction
in the same breath?

Still, stars are cherished
and humans are despised.
Birth is a fatal accident –
As you have said.

In my empty nights
I know you more.
The darkness looms large
But are we not made of star stuff?*

Someday we’ll shine together in this land
As stars
And we will write our gods too
Gods of our own, gods of all petty humans.

*Star stuff: Rohith Vemula liked Carl Sagan and wanted to be a writer like him. Carl Sagan said, “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”

Moumita Alam is a poet from West Bengal. Her poetry collection, The Musings of the Dark was published in 2020. The book has about a hundred poems written in protest against the humanitarian crisis from the abrogation of Article 370, the Delhi riots, and the Shaheen Bagh movement to the unbearable sufferings of the migrant labourers due to the unplanned COVID-19 induced lockdown.