2019, single-channel projection, sound, 4.00 mins

Coolie catchers came
With snake-like truths
And loaded vessels packed
Like cargo or buffalo
To move bodies, given numbers
Men, women and babes
To fill quotas on ships made
In slavery’s disgrace
Herded below decks, over oceans
Vast and black, men beat, women tied
Red dripped down thighs
Yamarāja – God of death
Like dogs without mouths
In quasi-industrial lines
Of iron, blood and dirt
The plantation bodies
Stacked like fodder
To work in red stained fields
Ash clung black to skin
As cane, spit red and hissed
As cane, cut bodies scarred
From light until darkness
Hit acrid on tongues,
The sweetness stuck
To yellowed, browned cotton bodies
To be hung till they bled
With babes left behind
These are echoes over oceans
Cane blown in from Bharat
Taken as green makes money
And at this time in history
Rooted in earth far from home
Kalpavriksha stands as healer,
Shelterer, on land unatoned

 

 

Sound design: Isha Ram Das