On March 12, 2018, over 40,000 farmers came to Mumbai city intending to encircle the Vidhan Bhavan and ensure that the government concedes their demands on issues ranging from remunerative prices and a farm loan waiver, to implementation of the Forest Rights Act and the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers (the Swaminathan Commission).

Anguished and angered by the state’s apathy and continuing indifference to their problems, the farmers had joined the Long March organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha. They walked for six days to cover a distance of around 180 kilometres from CBS Chowk in Nashik before they finally halted at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai.

Tens of thousands of farmers sat patiently listening to speeches by their leaders – while a small delegation met with the chief minister – all the while hoping their demands would be considered and their long gruelling trek would have an impact.

Inspired by these events, PARI’s Jyoti Shinoli wrote a poem about the Indian farmer and what he or she has to say. The video featured here, also by the PARI team, comprises footage from the first and the last days of the march, along with the audio of the poem ‘I am a farmer, I walk this long journey’.

Watch video: 'Thus empty handed I walk this long journey...'

मी एक शेतकरी , करतो पायी हा प्रवास

मी एक शेतकरी, माझा हा संघर्ष...
उभ्या भारताचा मी पोशिंदा, पण माझं जगणं कठीण...

दुष्काळ, कर्ज, पीक दर....किती गणवू माझ्या व्यथा...
माझा आवाज पोहचवया करतो पायी हा मी प्रवास...

उभं आयुष्य गेलं शेतीतं...
माझं रगात न् घाम मिसळलं या मातीत
ऐका हो जरा माझं करतो पायी हा मी प्रवास...

पाहिलं ना ओ मी ऊन न् वारा...
राबलो दिन-रात, पण हाती काही नाही आले...
तोच कोरा हात घेऊनी, करतो पायी हा प्रवास...

आता रडूही येईना, माझी आसवं सुकली...
इतकं का भोगतोय, मी शेतकरी म्हणून?
नको हा जन्म पुन्हा, यासाठी पायी हा प्रवास...

असं काय मी मागतोय, माझं हक्काचं जगणं
जगाल का हो तुम्ही माझं हे जीवन?
माझा आवाज पोहचवया, करतो पायी हा प्रवास...

माझा अंत होण्याआधी, जरा ऐका हो माझं
उभा भारत हा माझा नायतर मरील उपाशी
म्हणून करतो, पायी हा प्रवास

I am a farmer, I walk this long journey

I am a farmer, this is my struggle
I feed all of India, yet live in distress myself

Drought, loan, crop price, how many sufferings do I count
I walk this long journey to make my voice heard

All my life was spent in farming
My blood and sweat mixed into this soil
Listen to me won’t you, I walk this long journey

Neither scorching sun nor wind I cared for
As I toiled day and night, but received nothing in return
Thus empty handed I walk this long journey

Now I can't even cry, my tears have run dry
Why do I suffer so, because I am a farmer?
I don't want this life again, and so I walk this long journey

What is my demand, the right  to my life
Will any of you live this life of mine?
To make my voice heard, I walk this long journey

Before my life ends, listen to me a little
Otherwise this India of mine will starve to death
That is why I walk this long journey

Poem translated by Namita Waikar

The PARI team: Jyoti Shinoli, Samyukta Shastri, Siddharth Adelkar and Sinchita Maji

Also see: From fields of despair – a march with hope

Text Editor : Sharmila Joshi

Sharmila Joshi is former Executive Editor, People's Archive of Rural India, and a writer and occasional teacher.

Other stories by Sharmila Joshi