Kalki's powerful poem lays bare India's brutality

'The Printing Machine' talks about the coverage of crimes against women and how it makes us 'fear everything'

 |  3-minute read |   14-01-2016
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  • The Printing Machine
  •  
  • Chrrrchrrrchrrreee
  • Goes the steady printing machine
  •  
  • Chrrring bloody scenes into bold black ink,
  • Chrrring headlines that make us glug
  • glug our drink,
  • Chrrring crimes against women,
  • (Steep rise in ink.)
  • Gang raped Japanese tourist,
  • (International stink stink.)
  • Strip searched for menstruating,
  • (Blink blink.)
  • Irom force-fed from starving
  • (Think, think)
  • Child raped by politician,
  • (Ka'chingka'ching.)
  •  
  • Chrrrchrrrchrrreee
  • The machine harps happily
  •  
  • And we drink to ink
  • That makes our stomach sink
  • And teaches us to fear
  •  
  • Everything.
  •  
  • Fear the beasts riding the nights
  • From Delhi to Pondicherry,
  • Cat calling, wowing, growling,
  • Grrrgrrrgrrring.
  • Beasts of poverty,
  • Beasts on a shopping spree,
  • 'Its midnight Cinderella'
  • 'Its ten o'clock you dirty fella.'
  • Oh hell it really doesn't matter,
  • It was afternoon in the warehouse and nobody heard her,
  • There's was just grrgrrgrrring
  • Growing louder and louder
  • And the machine chrrrchrrrchrrring
  • Faster and faster.
  • Chrrring a nation that prides itself in the hanging of four men
  • Five if you count the suicide bastard.
  • Chrrrchrrrchrrring a village dangling
  • Of two girls, like pin up dolls, upon a tree.
  •  
  • Chrrrchrrrchrrreee
  • Goes our busy printing machine
  • Till heads pile up in our hands
  • Printed crisp and clean on our newspaper stands
  • And blend smoothly into our morning routine.
  • Heads for one side or another
  • Like a black and white marketplace,
  • Two heads for four,
  • Four heads more,
  • Enough heads to start a war,
  • Chrrrchrrrrchrrring one after another
  • How many heads are we after?
  •  
  • And when you think its over,
  • When the machine stops with a sudden chrrreee
  •  
  • Wait a little
  • Wait patiently
  •  
  • It's just readying
  • To chrrr at textbooks of rewritten histories
  • Of dissected countries
  • Of majorities and popular beliefs,
  • And then the
  • Long
  • Slow
  • Chrrr
  •  
  • Of italics
  • In roman prints
  • Of sweeping statements made by official establishments
  • To take safety precautions and make improvements
  • Based on moral views and religious sentiments
  • Of political convenience.
  • Chrrring out the marks of sin
  • Cut out of the clothes you're in,
  • The men with whom you've been,
  • The colour of your skin,
  • Speaking of which...
  •  
  • Chrrring horizontal lines vertically,
  • To pay for print
  • In soft baby pink
  • The pleasant opening page
  • Revealing a'Fair and Lovely' face,
  • Which melts slowly
  • A few pages on
  • With the rise of acid sales.
  •  
  • Chrrrchrrrchreee
  • Our machine sings obliviously
  •  
  • Chrrring magazines
  • With shiny sheens
  • To accommodate setups socially serene,
  • A world we can buy into,
  • A dream we can hang onto,
  • A love that divides one into two
  • Values that depend on what others think of you
  • And you know the tune,
  • You are what you say and not what you do,
  • So keep tap tap tapping
  • On keyboards computing
  • Virtual drawing rooms of communicating
  •  
  • Tap taptweet.
  • Tap tap sweet.
  • Tap tap texting.
  • Tap tapemoticoning.
  •  
  • Whilst our machine
  • Keeps chrrrchrrrchrrring
  •  
  • Background scores to our scenes,
  • Chrrring fantastical Bollywood dreams and glory
  • Based on Box office stories,
  • Chrrring carefully formulated plots of success
  • Pots of money
  • And lots of business,
  • Chrrring us to smile at rocks
  • And call them diamonds,
  • And honey,
  • Chrrring us into late life disappointments
  • And life long resentments...
  •  
  • Chrrrchrrrchrrreee, the family you marry,has nothing to do
  • Chrrrchrrrchrrrooo,
  • With the man you woo.
  • Chrrrchrrrchrrraaa, to underwear and bra,
  • Ladies can't fight seriously in lingerie,
  • So hurrah hurrah,
  • Let's throw her a bikini
  • Everytime she raises her head defiantly,
  • You see,
  • God forbids multiplicity
  • For a woman in our society.
  •  
  • Chrrrchrrrchrrreee goes our precious printing machine
  • Chrrring what it sees, chrrring non chalantly
  •  
  • Chrrring sadness, fatness and mental illness
  • As reasons for unhappiness,
  • Chrrringmedication that sedates you into stillness
  • Chrrring you to mask your nakedness
  • By wearing
  • Less
  • And
  • Less.
  •  
  • Chrrring bitterness in mothers
  • Like slow venom seeping into future generations,
  • The quiet revenge of the weaker sex
  • From behind the guise of a tear stained Kleenex.
  • Chrrrchrrrchreeee
  • Chrrrchrrrchreeee
  • Chrrring little brats that grow into men,
  • Chrrring little ladies who use hearts to pretend
  • And find ways to manipulate and defend
  • Themselves
  • From thegrrgrrgrrring beasts
  • Of Darwin's survival of the fittesttheories,
  • Until our existence becomes an endless series
  • Of chrrrchrrrchrreees.
  •  
  • Chrrrchrrr dailies,
  • Chrrrchrrr weeklies,
  • Chrrrchrrr stories that becomes our histories,
  •  
  • Which, oh, in irony of all ironies,
  • Will one day reveal
  • How our great Indian heritage
  • Fell to its knees
  •  
  • At the mercy of innocent
  • Little
  • Printing machines.

Also read: 4 takeaways from Kalki's 'mind-blowing' feminist rap. And a strong suggestion

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