Straight Talk by Meena Kandasamy

Everyone speaks of him.

Hands dancing in air
they gush about the power
of his words his flourishes
of rhetoric his direct approach
his raw reproach his felicity in
ferocious Tamil his three hours in
the sweltering heat rousing
angry young man rally speeches
that make men out of mice and
marauding wildcats out of men
fiery speeches that subvert and
overturn and unseat and revolt
spontaneous speeches that unsettle
states and strongmen and sinister
systems of caste and speeches that
seek to settle scores delivered in
his voice that makes skyscrapers
fall to their knees

He is the greatest orator
in our language today, they say.

I wonder at how easily led people are.

Even I loved his speeches best,
until, one day, seven years ago,
I fell in love with the many registers of his silences.
by Meena Kandasamy


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