Indentureship poems – By and for Leonard Dabydeen

May is East Indian Indentureship month:

Indentured Man

by Leonard Dabydeen

call me
a coolie
plantation bound
indentureship is my common slave dance.    

Shackled in chains to keep me from running
like common thief
they kept me

Published November 26, 2010


The Indentured:

For Leonard Dabydeen

by Professor Indira Babbellapati of Andhra University, India

Hoards and hoards
Huddled up on decks
What the dark waters
Had in store
None could guess
Thrown into one’s own kinsman
But each in one’s own
Cocoon of dreams
Of wealth
Of returning
Names forgotten
Numbers, their identity
‘Slaves’ reinvented
To augment imperial arrogance
To make the rulers ‘sweeter’
Cheap labor to fill the royal coffers
Thumb impressions
Sealing generations of lives
Labeled ‘coolies’
They passed on legacy of uprootedness
They strived and struggled
The song they secretly
Carried from the homeland
Their only connect
To the past of familiar shores
Lurking like fading light

Where are they?
Scattered all over the world
Return to the motherland
A distant cry

Human history—
A saga of exploitation
A saga of subversion
Personal history—
Cracked memories
Carefully secured in one’s heart.

Published :04 Nov 2010

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