You looked the bully in the eye,
And called his bluff,
Till millions rose around you
To say enough is enough.
You spoke to them of the things
That were all their own;
Till they said, lead us, brother Chavez,
And we will not relent till we are done.
You sat in the middle of the hoi polloi
And made your best decisions there;
You recounted the truth of oppressions,
Till every labouring one was clear
How the eagle had to be stopped
From marauding at will,
And how a million sparrows had to rise
To deny its wanton fill.
More than the oil and the miracles
Of well being you wrought with it,
It was what you taught a continent
About the ravages of a complicit
History that made the trampled
Sheaves of human grain stand,
Forging that undefeatable clarity of mind,
Which alone makes a revolutionary band.
You went far too early, brother Chavez,
Although your work shall leave us basking
In the common tasks of coming days.
Badri Raina, March 7, 2013,
First published in Mainstream Weekly, March 9, 2013
Author of Underside of Things