The Killing of Shambukas*

Chandramohan Sathyanathan, from Kerala (India), is a Dalit poet. His first poetry collection ('Warscape Verses') was published in 2014. This poem draws its inspiration from the poem Strange Fruit (1937) by a Jewish communist Abel Meeropol and is based on suicides of Dalit-bahujan students in institutions of higher education in India. Vemula Rohith is the most recent victim.

Jim Crow segregated hostel rooms.

Ceiling fans bear a strange fruit,

Blood on the books and blood on the papers,

Black body swinging in mute silence,
Strange fruit hanging from tridents.


Chandramohan Sathyanathan


* According to Valmiki Ramayana, Shambuka - a shudra ascetic - was beheaded by Rama for attempting to perform penance in violation of dharma.