It didn't matter that the goats had always been there in the forest. Whether they were original inhabitants from aeons ago, before the arrival of the wolves and the tigers, or a population that originated elsewhere, but came here seeking shelter, made little difference. They were feral alright.

A menace competing with native fauna over the limited resources of forest land, threatening the survival of other plants and living species, polluting and destroying the pristine landscape. They were the carriers of diseases. And above all they were of doubtful ancestry with no recorded proofs of pedigree, no real claim to the land they had been grabbing for ages. They had to be driven outside the limits of the forest now. Putting them in ghettos was not enough, they would be put behind bars. Excluding them from history was not enough, they had to be forcefully evicted and sent back to the places they had come from. Lists had to be made, each feral animal was to be pulled out from its hiding, the bleating lot then  deported and silenced. The forests needed to be protected from all future trespassers.

The new forest government, determined to fence the land with layers of snarling razor wire coils, was moving on a war footing. In little or no time, rows of galvanised steel loops lacerating the hate-filled air, outlined the perimeters of the forest. A maimed cry of ‘ maaah....maaah ’ could be heard from creatures dangling from the steel razor wire, like a plea for ghar-wapasi , like the reddish orange of the setting sun against a darkening sky.

Listen to Anshu Malviya recite the poem in Hindi

Listen to Pratishtha Pandya recite the poem in English

घर वापसी के लिये अर्जी

मेरे घर वापस पहुँचने का इंतजाम कर दें
हे मौलिक राष्ट्रवादी!

जिसे भी घर या मूल कहते हों आप
मूल धर्म, मूल राष्ट्र,
मूल संस्कृति, मूल योनि...
अपनी जड़ों तक पहुँचने का हक़ है हमारा
और आपका फर्ज़ कि लोग जड़ों तक पहुँचें l

हे विष्णु ! हे ब्रह्मा !!
अस्तित्व के इस जगमगाते ज्योर्तिलिंग का
आप मूल खोजें
आप खोजें अन्त,
मुझे भी मेरा घर दिखा दें
हे जड़राष्ट्रवादी !

वैसे ही जैसे
'वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्' की हाँक लगाते
रोहिंग्याओं को म्यानमार तक छोड़कर आएँगे आप
जैसे बांग्लादेशी जायेंगे बांग्लादेश
जैसे सारे मुसलमान जायेंगे पाकिस्तान
सारे अल्जीरियाई जैसे छोड़ेंगे फ्रांस
सारे रोमां जर्मनी से वापस अपने घर भेजे जायेंगे
जैसे सारे गोरे अमरीका छोड़ कर जायेंगे यूरोप
जैसे सारे हिन्दु मॉरीशस और सूरीनाम से लौटेंगे
पुण्य भू पर
जैसे आदिमाता की तलाश में हम सब जाएँगे अफ्रीका
जैसे वापस लौटेंगे 'भइया' बम्बई और अहमदाबाद से
जैसे गुजराती दिल्ली छोड़कर जाएँगे
जैसे आदिवासी जायेंगे जंगल (माफ कीजिये जंगल की जरूरत तो सरकार को है! )
मुझे मेरा घर वापस दिला दें ।

और मैं ही क्यों, आप भी चलें – हम सब चलें
वापस पीछे.. बहुत पीछे.. अपने घर की तलाश में
हाथों को जमीन पर टेक दें
पेड़ों पर चढ़ जायें, मिट्टी में धंस जायें,
पानियों  में उतर जायें
केचुओं की तरह आत्मसंभोग करें
मछलियों की तरह गलफड़ों से सांस लें।

मौलिकता के महासमुद्र में चेतना के आदि स्तर पर
एक कोशकीय कीड़े बनकर चरें बिचरें…

ईश्वर के सीधे सानिध्य में
शरीर के पर्दे को हटाकर – एकाकार हों।
अधिभौतिक डी.एन.ए. की खोज में
मूल की ओर लौटता ये महाजुलूस, आदि घर, आदि उत्स की ओर
यह आध्यात्मिक महाप्रयोग,
यह फहराती धर्मध्वजाएँ, यह बाजार की दुंदुभी
यह शोर, यह महाशोर
चलें उस ब्लैक होल में चलें;
महानाद के साथ अन्त हो मानवता का
आदि के साथ पुनर्मिलन।
एक सामूहिक मौलिक आत्मघात की ओर चलें
हे अधिराष्ट्रवादी!

A plea for ghar-wapasi

O ultimate nationalist!
Arrange for my way back home, please!

Whatever you call that – home or the point of origin.
Original religion, original nation,
original culture, original source, the womb…
We have a right to reach out to our roots
and you an obligation
to ensure that people find their roots.

O Vishnu! O Brahma!
You must search for the origin of existence
of this luminous jyotirlinga ,
search for its end,
and show me my home as well
O dogmatic nationalist!

Just like the way you will drive
the Rohingyas to Myanmar
on the call of ‘ vasudhaiva kutumbakam
Like the Bangladeshis will be sent to Bangladesh
All Muslims to Pakistan
The way all Algerians will leave France
All Romas will be sent back home from Germany
The way White Americans
will leave the United States for Europe
and all Hindus will return to the divine land
from Mauritius, from Surinam.
Like the way we all will go to Africa,
searching for the primordial mother
Like the bhaiyas returning
from Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
Like the Gujaratis leaving Delhi.
Like the Adivasis returning to the forests (Oops!
I am sorry. I think the government needs the forests!)
Please, give me my home back.

And why only me,
even you should come along – we all must go
Go back…back…
way-back in search of our homes
walking on all fours,
climbing the trees, sinking into mud,
drowning in leaves,
self-copulating like flatworms,
breathing like fish from our gills.

Let us be unicellular worms
in the enormous ocean of originality,
at the primordial state of consciousness
graze and roam…

In the blissful presence of God
discard the veil of the body – let us be one.
In search of a metaphysical DNA
This mega-procession returning to the origin,
to the prehistoric home, to the original source,
this spiritual mega-experiment,
these fluttering religious flags, the war-drums of the market
the clamour…this uproar,
let’s return to that black hole.
Let humanity arrive at its end with a bang,
reunite with the original.
Let’s move towards a collective
original suicide
O meta-nationalist!


Ghar-wapasi : the literal meaning of the Hindi phrase is ‘a return home’. It has also been the name of a campaign carried out by various fundamentalist organisations in their quest to convert Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.

Jyotirlinga : a symbol of lord Shiva of the Hindu Trinity.

Vasudhaiva kutumbakam : ‘the entire world is my family'
Poem and Text : Anshu Malviya

Anshu Malviya is a Hindi poet with three published collections of poems. He is based in Allahabad and is also a social and cultural activist, who works with the urban poor and informal sector workers, and on composite heritage.

Other stories by Anshu Malviya
English Translation : Saumya Malviya

Saumya Malviya is an Ahmedabad-based sociologist and poet with a published collection to his credit. His work focuses on the anthropology of mathematics.

Other stories by Saumya Malviya
Illustrations : Labani Jangi

Labani Jangi is a 2020 PARI Fellow, and a self-taught painter based in West Bengal's Nadia district. She is working towards a PhD on labour migrations at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata.

Other stories by Labani Jangi