I don’t believe in them myself,
but perhaps you have heard of them.
They say there are witches in India,
monsters who want to destroy us all.
Tell me, have you seen them yourself?
Or are they just made up in cautionary tales?
Those in power tell us not to worry,
Things are well under control.
A witch-hunt is held with vengeful regularity,
with cunning rage and relentless ferocity.
Some ghouls are sent to rot in jail,
others simply put to death any which way.
Our leaders concoct fearful tales,
placing the dread of the evil ‘other’,
Deep within the believing hearts.
I am an unbeliever, half a witch myself.
A mongrel on the margins, who should I fear?
The witches, or those that set them alight?
Like a ‘dayan’ I exist where the shadows lie.
I am the ‘adivasi’, the ‘rakshas’, dark as the night.
I am the Naxal, the starving raging ‘pest’.
Or is it my freedom of choice that scares you?
The Dalit Christians, the Ram Rahims,
Are they the ‘danavs’ under India’s bed?
I am not your genie, your traditional slave,
That grants your wishes, or cleans your shit.
I scream like a banshee, my voice unleashed.
The pain pours out like an ominous spell.
I am the wrath of the tiger, unchained.
I am your made-up ‘monster’ who will not go away.
Demonic masks are glued tight to my face.
Discarding the lens of prejudice,
do you want to see me as I am?
Beyond my skin, my nose, my caste,
Will you reach out through the wrath?
Will you look behind my mask?