"Whose India is it Anyway," "In Dependence," and "Waiting"

Whose India Is It Anyway

(for the Gandhian martyrs of Freedom)


Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer.
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, 



The invader slit my brothers’ throats.
their blood set along two roads.
As the younger – “patriot of patriots” –
chose to slit back,
searched for the earth’s biggest swords
that could massacre six millions
and joined more of the invader’s enemies
for an army for a counter-bloodshed
and the elder, a “half naked fakir” amidst 
the round tabled padmavyuha,
chose to be persecuted, as a father
bearing the invader’s Cross that
fluttered a breathless slogan
“an empire where sun never sets”, thus
reminding him the words of his own faith –
“showing the other cheek” .
Today the funeral pyres of democracy
fill the void of the martyred father.



In Dependence

after August 15th 1947


The long freedom’s hunger
slithers into the decomposed
heaps of tranquillity, for a bite
or two to inject the unity of
the wiping strength in the
sacred fangs of the fanatic
belief in the tricoloured fold
of a maturing diversity where
politics is wedded to religion
before the holy fire of a non-
violent history. A lost beggar
counts his hard earned alms
of freedom on the pavement
of the potholed national highway
that bears the government convoy
which invests an amicable smile
of saccharine electoral promises
for another flickering victory of
empty pages hard bound to bear the
scribbled ideas that will jam again
at the empty ATMs, and death of
the only bread winners of the poor.
In mercy’s untouchable can of excreta
that hangs down her helping hand
is the real burden of untouchability
stinking with the pride and prejudice
of a faith’s mounting aberration that
sets the constitutional order which the
the Ashoka Chakra spins on the unfurling
colours of prosperity and peace our saluting
hands of mere independence day patriotism
are innocent of for that frozen conscience
naturally repels the light of democracy.
Does the lionized emblem on the Adhar Cards
rewrite our fate ensuring the ration to the
thatched shadows in Machilipatnam slums?
Another august handful of peace explodes
in a minister’s hand as a ritual of freedom
while the battalion of nation’s pride marches
off another year into a new beginning,
with the unchanged garments of self-
justice, “of, for and by the people."




at the treasury office Machilipatnam


An old question
my mother comes out
of the office
like a spittle
from the officer’s
big mouth
an answer
to those bench-full pensioners
waiting in the verandah.
It’s dirty
with flies swarming
around yesterday’s tea stains
like open wounds.
Freedom is a secret treasure
locked like my mother’s pension file
in the government’s rusty trunk box
in a state of paralysis.
They wait for us
to be greased
as those Gods
nor the freedom fighters
on the walls cannot.
At the entrance
of this pre-independence building
the flying colors
of the national flag
flutter on for freedom
like a pigeon
in a hunter’s hands.



Sreekanth Kopuri

Sreekanth Kopuri, Ph.D. is an Indian poet from Machilipatnam. He is the current poetry editor for The AutoEthnographer Journal Florida, Writer in Residence, and a Professor of English. He recited his poetry in Oxford, John Hopkins, Heinrich Heine, Caen, Banja Luka, and many others. His poems appeared in Two Thirds North, Arkansan Review, A Honest Ulsterman, San Antonio Review, Tulsa Review, Expanded Field, South Broadway Journal, and Vayavya to mention a few. His forthcoming book From an Indian Diary is the finalist for the Eyelands Book Award 2022, Athens. His book Poems of the Void was the winner of Golden Book of the year 2022. Kopuri lives with his mother in Machilipatnam.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, January 7, 2024 - 21:00