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The University Space

Not once upon a time 

But, in India today

Teachers who taught for 9-12 years were kicked out of their workplaces

While permanent professors stayed

Most of those kicked out were women

Not surprisingly…

The male professors remained


THE CLASSROOM

A beautiful place

The womb of a blossoming mind

The nurturer of academic debates

Jewel in the crown of university space

Talks of freedom and liberty

Brewing with fresh tea and coffee

Students, eager and hardworking

Flooding the premises


The classroom

A prison darker than the mind

Slaughtered of good sense

A monopoly of the privileged

Bathed in blood and violence

Oppressor of people

Terrible educated minds

Learned in terrorism and murder

A devoted devotee of fascism

Turning humans to machine

Smothering voices of truth and dignity


THE TEACHER

My teacher was an ad-hoc

A temporary filling till the college finds “someone more capable”

My college is one of the biggest in the nation

Yet my teacher toiled for ten long years

For my college couldn’t find “someone capable”, in spite of its credentials


My teacher taught me to dream

My teacher taught me lessons of liberty

My teacher gave me respect and freedom

My teacher taught me to live with dignity


She told us not to bow down to oppression

To fight for our rights and individual expression 

She accepted us for who we were

She taught us never to live in fear

To fight for those who were oppressed

To stand together when needed

And raise our voice, loud or silent in protest

Against societal injustice

To fight for those depressed

To use our education to make good of the globe

To keep alive the memory

Of human history

Which documented struggles of freedom

Against authoritarian men

My teacher taught me something that is permanent

And shall live beyond Death.


THE PROFESSOR

The professor enters the classroom

Already tired and irate

His blood boiling hot with fascism and authority

He opens a big fat book of history

And starts calling out dates

Of great military struggles

Facts, facts, facts, barks he

Like a rote parrot taught by Administrative Authority

He then becomes a motivational speaker

Then a “philosopher” with a capital P

To talk about the benefits of yoga

And the harm of being in company of women

Filled with hate

He teaches us to be academically accurate

All the while waxing eloquent about the state we are living in

Glorifying the hand which holds the gun

He breaks the pen and voice of reason

He is a coveted individual, with flowery titles

Alas! Poor, poor Professor

Students fail to remember dates

They do not recognise the military titles he taught them

Not a word of history in their cognizance

To enlighten their brains


A POEM OF HOPEFUL LAMENT

O Teacher

You shall be remembered

In talks of dreams and struggles of freedom

The years you sowed your toil and sweat

Into the fertile fields of the university space

Shall continue to pump the students’ hearts

Even if professors seek to train our brains

With thoughts of material well-being

Golden Letters of Recommendation and scholarly elitism

Your perennial river of lessons shall continue to flow

To fight for Truth and Freedom

The freedom of not being a slave to scholarly oppression

The dream of nurturing independent imagination

Dear Teacher

You will be remembered in each breath

In each painful step that we take

Your story shall be told again and again

Your song shall be sung in every protest

The injustice that happened with you shall not be forgotten

Your tale shall stay as long as history remains

Your tale shall stay as long as history remains

As long as, history remains.


- Sristi Ray

B.A. (Hons.) History


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