Eating Steak in the Time of Modi

By Advait Ubhayakar


Eating Steak in the Time of Modi

Cow and its Progeny: In view of the contribution of cow and its progeny to agriculture, socio-economic and cultural life of our country, the Department of Animal Husbandry will be suitably strengthened and empowered for the protection and promotion of cow and its progeny. Necessary legal framework will be created to protect and promote cow and its progeny.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Election Manifesto 2014

Cow bloody cow
I’m only supposed to
suck your milk, as per my faith,
but each time, I keep chewing you
till you are gone off my plate.

Cow bloody cow
they say whenever we cut
you down, Bharat Ma screams,
you used to be a common noun,
now you are a country.

Cow bloody cow
they tell stories of guts and gore,
how we cook you in your own fat,
but we can’t afford oil anymore,
inflation and all that.

Cow bloody cow
when you didn’t come home
nobody sent out a search,
but under the whispering dome
They gathered as Hindutva.

Cow bloody cow
I hear their conch shells, and the chariots of their crusades,
they’ll never let you be mine, they’ll never let you be meat.
But they’ll keep sharpening their blades
on the Muslims in the street.

Cow bloody cow
you’re no longer here to see
we’ll all be put down
by your progeny.
Today, it was you,

tomorrow it’ll be me.


On The Most Photographed Bridge in the World

Into the tunnel and beyond
the sign that says Slow Curve,
I ride as a clique, as one
median nerve. And as your
orange tendons begin to
dawn golden over us, we arch
our necks together, head-
phones still tingling with
commentary, as cameras
too now come off wrists,
capture this passage of rite,
the clicks not stopping
even when the bus does,
spills us out on to sidewalk,
all those index fingers still
flexing and press-hitting
the sun in our faces—in an age-
old impulse that catching
a moment in time will
also hold you in its place—
and I step out to a spot where I may feel
the ache of your arthritic bones.
1937. You are old. But not nearly
as old as my O . . . When I check
your pulse, you are strong, still.
Looking at your steely smile braces me,
suspends this belief of never
looking away. When rivers of saffron
run red every killing season. When lines are
drawn to mark the level
of blood under the bridge. When graves
are dug for tamaam kaums of thems, deemed
to die, so we the majority may truly develop.
And as India builds more dams, more weapons and yes, more
bridges, so that we become more, more like America,
there is no place left in either country
where a poem may stand
in a crowd of clicks and not get
its own hands bloody.


“Is Poetry Calling Out to You?”

Yes, I would say it is.
Besides, what else can it do
in the time of pogroms?

Poetry is a broom that works
overtime, sweeps the blood
from bleeding hearts

waxing large delusions that we won’t,
we won’t drown in the injustices and
veins pumping power and pride into gods,

gods so called, not by their beliefs but
because of their so-called believers.
While real life lays blown apart.

When the smoke clears: gutted sutali wire,
some green-red coil of burnt thread, a stain
where a man just stood.

The hole that was his heart
is screaming, and as you bend down
to pick up the broom, you can hear it

calling out your name.

Advait Ubhayakar was born in Bombay and has been a communications professional in India for over 10 years. Currently, he teaches writing and is pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing at Rutgers University in New Jersey. His non-fiction essays on the 2014 Indian Elections and New York City's 'India Day Parade' have appeared in The Sunday Economic Times Magazine, and he has been awarded fellowships by Rutgers (2013-14) and the Vermont Studio Center (Oct 2015). He is currently working on a novel and a poetry collection.

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