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Sunday, July 06, 2008


by Vivek Sharma

When half of my nation sleeps
with half-filled bellies, under the half-roofs,
with half-hopes of a mouthful tomorrow,

when half of my nation grows up with half-rights
to education and employment,
with half-health produces babies, with a half-heart
chokes before the stoves that burn wood,
and cook half-water curries made with half-salt,

when half-length men walk the streets
half-naked, willing to work for half-wages,
half-grown women slip into beds at half-price,

when half-sane leaders pocket half-funds,
and divide the nation into halves that fight,
(haves and not-haves all half-fooled)
when half-castes organize into brigands,
and seek half-reservation for their half-intellect,

when half of the news is of rapes, riots, extortions,
half-nation worries about Naxalists, Maoists, terrorists,
half-resolved cases haunt the courts,
where victims of the crime wait their half-lives
for half-compensations,

when half-history is distorted or concocted,
sacrifices of men like Gandhi half-known, half-respected,
when half-heritage is lying like a wreckage, and half-religions
have pocketed half-faith and finished the better half,

when half-talented sportsmen cloud TV with ads,
half-naked woman talk of modernism with half-minds,
half-cultured men, type half-lies into their tax returns,
and half-acknowledge their sexual slights,

when half of my nation cannot even read or hear my voice,
and other half will ignore it by their own choice,
and half-close their eyes to see half-blessed dreams
of half-American lives.

Vivek Sharma grew up in Himachal Pradesh, a state in the Himalayas, India, and obtained his undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. He is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Polymers at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. He has participated in Summer Seminar for Writers at Sarah Lawrence (2006-2008). His work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Poetry, The Cortland Review and Terminus. He contributes columns to DivyaHimachal, a Hindi newspaper in India and his research has appeared in science journals.