Will Some Poet Out There Write About Bhopal?

I do not know how to write about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
I do not know if I even want to write about what happened
oceans away. Who writes about the mangled people of my country.

Do borders exist for pain and suffering.

(BP pays compensation: the President knew whose ass to kick.
Will he kick Anderson’s ass too,
take up the pending criminal  case against Union Carbide.
25 years is long time no?)

Are certain lives dispensable.

A genre of poetry on oil spill is out there on the net. 

thousands of people fell like flies,
we are still searching for a voice to tell their story:
they are going away. A generation of them.

A chemical meant to break the nervous system of pests
rendered crawling insects of human lives:
                                                  death seems more merciful. 

Birds won’t have wetlands to nest.
Fish get coated with crude oil.
Oil gets ingested every time the water fowl preens its sticky feathers.

Can somebody close the eyes of the dead child
who stares at me from her grave?

A decade after, I refused to take a train past Bhopal:
I was pregnant then.


Photo courtesy:
Pablo Bartholomew/Netphotograph.com

(Please read here to know of the world’s worst industrial disaster at Bhopal, a city in India. This happened 25 years ago, suffering has not ended for the survivors and the family members of the deceased.

View these:

On June 7, 2010, twenty-five years after the incident a verdict was given on the 7 accused under Indian Penal Code sections including section 304 A (causing death by negligence), 336 (acts endangering life or personal safety of others) and 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others).  They were each sentenced to 2 years imprisonment and a fine of INR100,000 (approx. USD 2097).  Union Carbide India Limited has been awarded a fine of INR500,000 (approx. USD 10,483).

However, there was no mention in the verdict of Warren Anderson who was the Chairman of Union Carbide Corporation in 1984. He has been declared an absconder after he refused to return to India from the US and stand trial.

The investigation of the judicial proceedings in India of the case gets murky everyday. It brings back pain and anger all over again.)

Photograph of the wilted flower: Stephen Johnson

Big Tent Poetry

15 thoughts on “Will Some Poet Out There Write About Bhopal?

  1. Oh.My.God. This is a very powerful poem and I think it echoes the sentiments of a lot of Indians. You should consider publishing it on a bigger forum. India Today? The Week, perhaps?

  2. this is very powerful:

    “Can somebody close the eyes of the dead child
    who stares at me from her grave?”

    as are the last two lines. wow.

    and your question itself is powerful, too. what about those terrible terrible things that aren’t given so much “air time”?

  3. This is very interesting to learn about from the other side of the world. You asked a good question when you asked who writes about the mangled people in your area. In any case, you have written a physically powerful poem. Good for you.

  4. The poet who speaks truest, who in the beauty of language imparts the tragedy, fury, despair, loss, who moves us to tears, anger, action. You have written a strong and vivid poem, Uma, that I will not forget. How did Union Carbide get off so lightly? Was this a planned tactic, to stall for years until enough time had passed that they could slip through the net of decent human responsibility? You arraigned them, fully.

  5. uma, an indifferent bureaucracy and corrupt officialdom have stifled the voice of the people. if our government is not willing to take care of our people, then who will? great poem uma. very well written. all decent people must pause to think.

  6. great poem uma ! thoughts of these people burried deep have been kindered by your powerful words !what can be said about an oilspill far away when close to home we have a more gruelling tale to tell!

  7. What makes this poem powerful for me is the way you’ve made it more important than the oil spill, tragic though that is. You’ve put it in proportion. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Bosses who run big empires live in comfort and luxuries They are least bothered to even check the basics because of which accidents happen. They are so powerful that they escape because of their insensitivity and lack of values . GOD never forgives . Like always , I am proud that my wife has brought out many things in this touching poem.

  9. Uma, your piece here gives voice to those are voiceless. I think this is one of the uses of poetry. It is true, the idea of who gets more airtime.

  10. The last four lines in the poem haunts me.In this technological age this is a grim reminder of the fading human values. Life is priceless and any development at the cost of human lives need to vetoed out. Your writings should kindle these feeling and thoughts amongst the people at large.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s