Poem: Ramu Ramanathan

Narrated by: Omkar Govardhan

Photo:Anand Deshpande

Night falls down from the sky
The Warkari gathers a bit of a cloud on his thigh
The darkness embraces him as he sighs
He invokes Namdeo / Eknath / Janabai
Did they also have an Aadhaar?
Or Nir-Aadhaar did they die?
Like our hungry homeless Warkari?

The pavement is his pillow
Holy stones in it, full of woe
He pokes ancient thoughts with his toe
When will this Brahminism finally go?

Inter-connected to the ancient past
The Pandhapuri model was built to last
But as the Warkari does his Tuesday fast
He wonders, will Aadhaar annihilate my caste

The government agent who shot his photo
Said the Warkari’s life will be transformed in toto
He will be free to recite Tukaram’s kirtans
The Warkari’s atma will ascend to the sun

Will his IPR disintegrate in heaven, by then?
Will the bugs and infections make him zen?
Nahin, nahin, said the government agent –
Our proprietary system is mightier than the pen
Now smile please, say cheese, while I count to ten

The Warkari tries to sleep, in his dream, he hears Sant Dnyaneshwar
He asks, Do the Pandavs-Kauravs have an Aadhaar, O Krishna Sir?
Instead of an answer, all we hear are the abhangs
Every phrase is encoded-decoded by the Sangh
Scientific knowledge, among bhakths, causes rasa bhang
Beware of wissenschaft, says the Panchajanya’s Diwali Ank

It’s when the Warkari reads the fine print with a magnifying glass
He realises, all the rules have been dictated by the upper class
Data is the new oil and it is up for sale
Even if like the Warkari you’re tenth standard fail!

Will the 12 digits be uttered along with the morning ablutions?
Will the 12 digits, help the poor genuinely get their daily rations?
Will the 12 digits be the new Gondhal and Bharood?
Will you need to pray with 12 digits for a change of mood?
Will the first language our babies learn be these 12 digits?
Will 12 digits replace I Love You as a popular mantra on this planet?
Will the 12 digits, be audited, and sold off at an auction?
Or will the 12 digits be nuked by a Kudankulam bomb?
Will computer science professionals cause more atrocities than World War I?
Will God and Satan spar over these 12 digits, just for fun?
I know not
Perhaps Vithoba, he knows
Unless even he knows not
Cause even Vithoba will be privatised, soon
The rumours say by the next monsoon

Pandharpur has its first dystopian mess
Vithoba, he suffers from sleeplessness
A new religion sponsored by the MNCs, it appears
Mistaken identities start to spread an epidemic of fear
The Warkari realises how he is a mis-fit
Someone, you see, has stolen his digit
He sings his tragic lament with an ek-taara and a dholak
Not realising this is red tapism, not a case of bad luck

Thus is born the 21st century Pandharpur
A Trojan Horse built as high as the Duke’s hilltop
Inside it there are a million and one laptops
The Ghats, replaced by binary bits instead of agricultural crops

Registrars, service providers, data thefts have left the Warkari numb
Vithobha is missing, and Pandharpur town survives on bajri crumbs
The Warkari wants to book a ticket to paradise
But Yam-Dhoot says Nichte-Nein, you are a lice
Even as his name is being deleted, the bhajans pour out
The absence of Aadhaar, has converted him into a lout

He sings a final song
And kisses the sky
From Jejuri to Wai
They ask, why, o why!
Will this be the saga of the last Warkari from Pandharpur?
Will this be the saga of the last Warkari from Pandharpur?

Ramu Ramanathan
Ramakrishnan Ramanathan popularly known as Ramu Ramanathan is an Indian playwright-director with acclaimed plays to his credit. His list of plays includes Cotton 56, Polyester 84; Jazz; Comrade Kumbhakarna; and more recently, Postcards From Bardoli.

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