Where are the songs when we have death all around?

You wake up in your village. You see a hundred half burnt bodies washing up your sacred river. Which song will you sing? If the voice is stuck in your lumpen throat, how will you let the grief escape you?

Sure, most of these dead are unknown to you. And so are the hundreds who are dying around you everyday. But how are we reacting to such large scale destruction of human life? The virus is an invisible enemy, but was it invincible all the way? We are at the pinnacle of human achievement. Should we be capitulating so easily? Most importantly, where are the songs of humanity? The poems, the cries of pain, those flimsy flicks which engrave the grief of loss on popular memory? Where are they?

I am writing this after waking up from a siesta, which was a lot more than a scanty forty winks. It was raining heavily outside and the nap was supposed to be short, but it wasn’t long before I lost my senses. Sleep took me to a place where my limbs were bent like garden hoses and my blood flow restricted. In no time, the trance took over, and I could see the songs in colour pirouetting around me, even when I couldn’t hear them.

Songs of protest, songs of grief, songs of loss, those songs of everything! Yet, none from an angry daughter of India. All I could see was the spectacular dance of death. People were dying like termites, even when they trained that metaphor on the ‘others’, who died with equal ease. But I couldn’t help but ask. When the nation is reeling under colossal mismanagement, how could they be not making songs?

A song is an expression of anger as much as a brilliant display of longing. Songs of love are sure adorable, but what moves the wheels of history are the songs that scream at the face of injustice. In my sleep, I could hardly hear such a song coming from Indian throats. Then I woke up, fired up the laptop and searched YouTube for them. I found none. None on FB, none on Instagram, none anywhere. Only celebrations of hollow dance steps on Instagram reels. Swinging arms and smiling lips on the corpses were black. On the screen, they were pink and the filters were doing a good job.

Where is the grief? Where are the deaths? Where are the war cries, where are the angry teens? Perhaps, this is the equanimity that we inherited from the spiritual heart of our civilisation. An inspiration to blast Instagram reels through a geography dotted by funeral pyres, people gasping for breath and a cart load of vaccines that were never administered.

There are no songs here, you can go home. This country is not grieving, it is blasting its loudspeakers through a leaky roof that wasn’t fixed when the sun was still shining.

There are no songs here. If you were to cry, you’ll make sure that the tears won’t touch the earth. Thank You.

Written on May 17, 2021