We came on foot, we came on boats, shouting slogans of Azadi.
We stood on roof tops and sat on walls under the burning midday sun,
Listening to the words that we had longed to hear for so long.
Words that had been scripted through the lonely fears of our hearts.
Words that were spoken now with the clarity of courage.
Words that were spoken now with the suppressed strength of pent up anger.
Words that were spoken now with the certainty of belonging to the soil
Which had become one with the dust of our ancestors.
We stood there in the waves of heat
Feeling the surge and press of countless bodies around us.
Bodies meshed through the odour of sweat
And the shared fear of a common persecution.
And hanging from the roof tops,
And tied to the poles,
And clutched in hands slippery with sweat,
And wrapped round the pillars,
And spreading into our blood,
Were three strips of colour with a wheel of spokes,
Sewn together into the shape of our being.
Woven into the folds of our future and the creases of our past.
Stitched to the seams of the earth, the water, the air and the sky
That belonged to us and to which we belonged.
And we stood there from noon to evening,
We the people of India.
Raising our clenched fists like signposts to the future.
Chanting slogans like a new anthem.
Kin to each other through the ties of community.
Born to live and die
In a nation that was ours to hold on to
And ours to belong to.
Dr Parinitha is a professor of English in Mangalore University. She penned the poem soon after participating in the historic protest against CAA, NPR and NRC at Shah Garden, Adyar, Mangaluru on 15th January, 2020.