The Decision

Influences flow from the Himalayas
     As bottled water and ice-cold Pepsi,
     By cycle rickshaw, metered taxi,
     Brahmin priest and outcast cooly,
     Sonia Gandhi, BJP, [1]
     CSI, Salvation Army,  [2]
     Bengal tigers, Delhi belly
     Cut-out film star, blaring telly.
Messages come from here and there.
     Punjabi roti, Tamil chow
     Andhra curry, rice pilau
     On battle ship and ancient dhow,
     Spitting cobra, sacred cow
     With monsoon rains and paddy plough
     In village concourse, Panchayat row,
     Women’s chit-chat, quick pow-wow.
But we always listen to the strung up doll
     Bejewelled with necklace, temple gold
     God and man, both young and old,
     Male and female, warrior bold,
     Legendary history and story told,
     As truth and trust from myths unfold
     Leaving the mind in clearer mould
     To accept what’s on the threshold.
But they don’t do girls here, so be gone
     From Indian nightmare and western dream
     Show me the image with sonar beam
     Make it a boy for the hockey team
     Or mother-in-law is bound to scream
     And put heads together in a killing scheme
     So amnion will lose its gleam
     As membranes rupture with a gushing stream.
Are girls as good as boys – their equal?              
     But you are both, you conjoined clown,
     Our wiser sage, complexion brown,
     Inside out and upside down,
     Back to front like an Urdu noun.
     Two-faced puppet in embroidered gown.
     You’ve persuaded me to keep her, so I’ll tell the town
     But come back to you with my dowry frown.
May 2012
After visiting the Alchemy Exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall.

Image of puppets by courtesy of Itchy Pixel
Puppetry is a popular traditional art form of India. It remains an important means of entertainment and education. Here a pregnant woman listens to the Baharupia puppet upholding the value of the girl-child. This puppet, when inverted, takes the form of the opposite sex. Click on the video clip below to watch the Baharupia in action.

[1]   The Bharatiya Janata Party
[2]   The Church of South India