Made of less cotton, and more of green suicides.
This is the goblet I'll hold tonight
What the goblet shall hold, is a surprise.
Perhaps less grapes, and more of red spilled
from slaughtered voices,
and squished rights of the little people.
This is the necklace I'll adorn tonight.
It's made of deluxe diamonds,
those which reflect callously,
the light from burning pyres,
diverting the sin to your eyes.
This is the fork I'll use tonight.
To chomp off elegantly,
the lives of malnourished children,
between sips of water, from their
mother's tears or grandmothers' wells.
This is the pair of shoes I'll wear tonight.
Specially crafted, so that the
tips always point at someone.
And the heels keep me high above
the Dalit, the BGT victim, the beggar.
This is the purse I'll carry tonight.
Can fit in all the necessities
for a party like this.
Elite lie lip color, blinding kohl.
But it has no room for a red sponge pump.
This is the smile I'll wear tonight.
Sphinxlike, designed of human hide.
Engineered to keep smiling,
even in the event of catastrophes,
or tragedies; or serial murders.
I'm Nero's guest, waiting for tonight.
But tonight could be like 2nd Dec, 1984.
Even if not, what am I?
An ongoing tragedy? Unfolding in slow motion?
Do I even need a gas to kill me?
Or will my breath of indifference be enough?
Or am I just a corpse, faking a life?
I am the perfect Nero's guest, waiting for tonight.
--Rajashree Gandhi is a student of Sociology S.Y.B.A., Fergusson College. This poem is her response to the film Nero's Guests by Deepa Bhatia. The film focuses on the farmers' suicides in Maharashtra and the work of journalist P. Sainath in documenting this tragedy. In the film Sainath describes how Nero's guests sat impassively as he burned prisoners to provide illumination for one of his parties, to distract the guests from the burning city below them. Who are Nero's guests in today's context, Sainath asks?