Comrade Anil Kumar Barua

On February 11, 1998, Comrade Anil Barua, Assam State Secretary as well as Central Committee Member of the CPI(ML), was gunned down by the ULFA while addressing a mass meeting of women in Tinsukia as part of his campaign as the CPI(ML) candidate in the Lok Sabha polls. Anil Barua was a poet and a founder of the progressive cultural movement in Assam, as well as founding Secretary of the Sadou Asom Jana Sanskritik Parishad. In tribute to him, we carry a selection of his poems translated from Assamese.

[To the rape-victim Jonmoni (the little moon) of Bharalua]

Dark spots on the Moon
Blots, or Embellishments?
Is that the Moon
Or, Sukanta’s ‘half-burnt roti’
Or, my rebel sister,
A witness to state-repression?
What’s the value of ritual purification, O Priest?
The price of ritual purification
Cannot subdue our Moon
Cool, intense heat on the Moon’s body
The swallowing Rahu cannot hide
The Moon’s bright face
Sun-bathed She’ll Shine Again.
MEERUT : 1987
Listen carefully
The bugle sounds,
Striking a note
Unheard before.
Saving time’s genitalia
With the scratches of civilization
Who pours venoms of lead
Into the perfume?
Plucking the pomegranate’s red blossoms
The protections turned-oppressors
Play the hurling game.
Whose flag flies
Over the graveyard of humanity?
The people have identified them
Have seen through the game
Of the worms of darkness.
Yet long is the night’s journey
It’ll be a while
Before the morning light
Brightens everything up
But the long night’s journey
Will end all right.
You are a peasant
I am a worker
Two brothers, poverty stricken
Both have the same mother.
You turn this land green
With your toil
You offer golden harvest
To the whole society
Do you get enough
To fill your stomach?
I struggle with machines
Breaking my back
For the comfort of the rich
Creating something new every day.
I lift the iron ore
That came from the womb of the earth
Softening, melting, moulding
I made steel tough.
Buildings, electricity, cement, concrete
All of these I made myself
Shelling my labour
Wasting my life day after day
I’ve become a proletariat.
The money-lender deprived you of everything
The landlord sucked your blood
How long will you go on tolerating?
Come, let’s fight together
When united even the weakest can win.
Let’s get united
Making weapons of the plough-shares
Ensuring social justice
Let’s wrest over due.