The Arithmetic of Protest


sreejith protest

766 is a magic number, said the Greeks.
When you near this number all earlier numbers
Shed their wrappings and dance like flames.
On a blackboard in Statue junction, I write this number
And calculate many permutations.
The pairs of feet that passed him by in a second
Equals 2 x 60x 60x24x 766 = 13,23,64,800, say 13 crores.
The 2011 census pegs the population of Kerala at 3.33 crores.
Which shows that Kerala trampled over him
four times in 766 days,
without seeing him.
That’s statistics for you.

I dig for more interesting data like
The number of idlis consumed in Ananda Bhawan for 766 days,
The number of beers guzzled in Hotel Pankaj in 766 days,
The number of coconuts burst in the Ganapati temple in 766 days,
The number of books bought in DC or Modern Book House in 766 days,
The number of makeshift hearths lighted for two Ponkalas,
The number of activists in the political rallies that end there,
The number of delegates who attended two IFFKs,
The number of connoisseurs at the cultural evenings in VJT Hall,
The number of people, who attended weddings in Sree Moolam Club,
The number of buses, cars, autos, bikes, scooters, cacophony
That passed him by for 766 days,
without seeing him.

When a man is alone, he turns invisible.
So said Thiruvalluvar or someone or no one.

(A 25 year old man lay on the sidewalk in front of the Kerala Secretariat for 766 days, demanding justice for his brother who was beaten to death in police custody in a Trivandrum police station. It took Kerala 766 days to see him lying there on the sidewalk.)

Ra Sh is poet from Kerala


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