Salaam Comrade

Salaam Comrade

the shifting space, the step
outside, away into another life
on a street next to mine

that drew me to itself, you and her
a few bricks, some wood, a little
withered grass, and children, shrieking
as they played

so save the hours, the days, the months
that you dreamt of a new spine
in the universe, as you made tea
listening for the whistle calling, calling..

for time spent
amongst spindles, shuttles
wisps of cotton, bundles of cloth
steam, sweat and that hollow
sense of tomorrow

that it could be different
was the difference that drew us together
a brief season amidst
the dogs, the smouldering coal, the filthy fields
all lit up with certainty
that it could be different

you spent that time, saved a life or two
looking beyond the evening’s embers
upon which the last cups of the day’s earnings
swelled up in the pan as surely as
the day would come
when it would be different
in another world
in the street next to mine

Bishambar Dayal (aka Bishen) was a mill worker, a proletarian communist in Delhi’s Birla Cotton Mills. He, his wife Chameli and his family were dear friends to me and other members of our student Maoist group in the late 1960s. We went through many vicissitudes together. Bishen was jailed during the Emergency and died about a decade ago.

See also

My friend

Popular posts from this blog

Haruki Murakami: On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning

The Almond Trees by Albert Camus (1940)

Satyagraha - An answer to modern nihilism

Rudyard Kipling: critical essay by George Orwell (1942)

A Message to the 21st Century by Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997)

Goodbye Sadiq al-Azm, lone Syrian Marxist against the Assad regime

Three Versions of Judas: Jorge Luis Borges