She was always there
Waiting darkly in the margins of polity
To convince us that governance
Must be done with a resolute hand
Lest we go indolent.
Determined Prayag Ganga
She watered and inundated
With rapacious zeal
Both through the Emergency and Garibi Hatao
A land that asked for nothing.
You may berate her
For Operation Blue Star,
Left wing reforms,
The nuclear Buddha,
Or the fabrication of Sonar Bangla,
But she always flashes before the eye
In her pale skin and peacock-studded sari,
Amma Indira, Priyadarshini,
Mothering and giving solace
To a tenuous secularism.
She was firm with fundamentalists,
Obdurate with Bankim revolutionaries,
Unforgiving with post-constitutional anarchies,
Ruthless with isms of intellectual cunning, and
Unyielding with divisive politics.
But the caliginous night took her away
Past outstretched hands,
Past eye smudges,
Into the crumbling empire
Of a graffiti-smudged paradise.