The strange death of an outcast

by Ra Sh

who was rohith vemula?
i knew many, not just the
head without torso that
hung from a spiderweb.

a rohith vemula was my childhood pal
who saved me from the bite of a cobra.
he stepped on its head calling it a rat snake,
later died in the hospital sweating blood.

a rohith vemula saved me from drowning
when i was trying to pluck a lotus flower
in the local pond. he got sucked into the slush.

a rohith vemula pushed me to safety when
crossing a road. he got hit by the army truck.

a rohith vemula wrote my love letters for my
beloved. her family goons broke his limbs.

a rohith vemula sat with me in arrack shops, travelled
with me on long train journeys singing songs, squatted
with me on the fields sharing the same bottle to wash up,
a rohith vemula taught me how to make a leaf spoon, how
to play thalappanthu, how to angle with a hook and a worm,
a rohith vemula guided me through my adolescent fantasies,
sold lottery tickets to me seated on a makeshift wooden trolley,
paid 51 rupees for my wedding, drove the three-wheeler which
saved my child’s life, poured the first drops of black tea into my
just born grand daughter’s thirsty mouth.

rohith vemulas crowd my life, criss crossing my life’s pathways
as playmates, classmates, lovemates, workmates, shaapmates.
so, who is this new rohith vemula
who hangs from a fine web of
lies , conceit, loathing and repulsion,
masterminded by an academic pool
where only vultures come to wash their beaks.
who is he to die so unceremoniously?
`like a dog’, `like a dog’, my kafka wails
as someone slits his throat ear to ear.

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