it ain’t too long ago

Maruti Naik
2 min readApr 18, 2024

It ain’t too long ago
my father would tell me so
that his father
heard freedom
unfurled on a fort
Nehru’s words
push back the night
and that in his village
the headman threw the mother of all feasts
in a tent as wee as his heart
a select few found space
and “they”, the many,
were outside braving the sun,
segregated, excluded they sat
this feast with sweets so bitter
yet the children stuffed
what they could in their hands
(even then you see only the rich had clothes with pockets)
and the children wondered
is this what freedom tastes like?

it ain’t too long ago
my father would tell me so
that his mother would preserve
cups which had shed their ears
in domestic battles
in case any of “them” would turn up
and have to be served tea
as they sat herded in the cowshed
out of sight

it ain’t too long ago
when I was a little boy
that my mother would
hand me two packets of food
one meant for workers
from our side
and the other well for them,
the “others”

it ain’t too long ago
must be a few days
when my better half spoke
about her days of youth
where she shared “their” food
how it was not such a big deal
but then she did ask the agent
who was helping us house hunt
“Do they stay nearby”

come to think of it
even today
our bodies avoid clothes of a certain color
we leave them behind on shop shelves
for them

it ain’t too long ago
maybe a year or two back
one fine morning
a distance from our village
they found Surjya
dead as a doorknob
on the tracks which never meet
as they run in parallel
he lay divided
a reminder to his “kind”
never to indulge in the grave sin
of discovering love with an inaamdaars daughter

it ain’t too long ago
i mentioned Nehru
making us aware of our tryst with destiny
and that headman and his feast in his little tent
so, Arjunya had given that feast a miss
he had seen that tent and that border it drew
he had understood freedom
in its very true sense
much before anyone really understood it

it ain’t too long ago
in fact just about recently
that the village threw another celebration for
Arjunya’s grandson
felicitation on stage that too
he was going abroad
to pursue dreams
only he dared see
the village mighty proud
dropped him all the way
to the station
leaving behind
the village headman, Madhukar
alone in the corner of the stage
clutching a table
that was fast turning

inspired by @digutipnis‘s post a few days ago. I do hope that this does justice to his brilliant work — any shortcomings in translation are purely my own.



Maruti Naik

I write to remember. I write to remain honest. I write to leave a bread crumb trail for my daughter. I write to relax. Trying to impress my better half, I write