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Poem: ‘Harijan, The Untouchable’

untouchable
2 min read

by Prerna Somani

Author’s Note: Harijan is a term popularized by Mahatma Gandhi. It translates to ‘people of God’ in Hindi. It was used to refer to the Untouchables or members of the Dalit community.

Aerial, my roots crept around my elbows
and my neck, my teeth, knees
like puppet strings, inconspicuous but heavy;

 I became a forest of entangled veins
where, at every node, grew thorns
that struggled to protrude over my barriers of skin.

Jarring breath notes punctuated my words
that were born in an inky flux
from the abyss that hollers from the pit of my lungs.

All day, my cardiac structures pushed and pulled
to pump healthy amounts of slime into my system;
all night my eyes searched for a stale wisp of nirvana
in the uncemented corners of my confines.

No leech could suck this poison out of my blood,
no fire purifies a soul corrupted by its birth status.

Isn’t that why you taught your children
that I am Untouchable?

Aerial, I clench my roots with my teeth
and wrap them firmly around my fists and feet
one lunge after another, I climb over every
sphere of space, holding on to my roots.

I am wildness incarnate
cutting through centuries of hysterical exploitation
with my thorny veins as my blades.
Each blow to my gut, each slap to my innocence
Painstakingly punctuates the movement of my ascent.

All day, I raid tombs of memory,
my history fuels my roars of red rebellion
All night I resurrect the vows that were buried
under unmarked graves and cremated with unliberated souls.

Melting the shackles around my tongue with the acid in my blood
I nurture the incendiary spirits of my forefathers in my hollow bones

Teach your posterity, I am not to be toyed with
For I am the Untouchable.


Prerna Somani is a 20-year-old freelance editor from Gujarat, India. Debater, dancer and dramatist, she has loved the stage like a second home. Mostly a closet poet, she began to blog her work to reach out to readers and writers who seek empathy and not validation. You can follow her on Twitter at @sparkauror and Instagram @thescrawlyst.

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