Down to Earth - - THE FORTNIGHT - By Jayanta Ma­ha­p­a­tra

Truth is what once my fa­ther taught me but that was years and ages back. To­day it gives me a cyn­i­cal look from the ozone hole. Its voice has lost its mu­sic, chok­ing on chlo­roflu­o­ro­car­bons, it is just a voice that has air­less­ness to cross. What do I care about lead­ers such as Bush or Ma­jor? Or the nu­clear power plant in Iowa I vis­ited once, or the deep, fiery throat of NASA? Or Euro­pean au­to­bahns, or the ad for cat food which says: Shouldn't your cat eat like a hero too? The stom­ach of hopes be­gins to empty it­self when we stop to rest and think. Noth­ing but green bile comes up even at a do­mes­tic sum­mit. Noth­ing but the in­ex­haustible delir­ium of a soli­tude that runs away as we con­tinue to stalk it. If a bil­lion peo­ple live in ab­so­lute poverty, do I have to worry? So what if rain­forests go? The plush au­to­mo­bile still stands haugh­tily at the door. God tells my peo­ple in that re­mote vil­lage of Ko­ra­put that they'd have to pay for the sins of past lives. God re­ally knows how to fill up hun­gry bel­lies In Africa and Asia with the si­lence of his voice. God knows, and so he has gone on and on, like the truth about those ques­tions he has never an­swered and I so want to for­get. Jayanata Ma­ha­p­a­tra is the re­cip­i­ent of Sahitya Akademia ward and Padma Shri. This poem, ex­clu­sive to Down To Earth, was pub­lished in Au­gust1-15,1992

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