Spoken word Poetry – INDIGO : THE BLUE GOLD

Indigo farmers: An ode to Nil Darpan 2009, Poem 

Length: Multimedia 3.48m

Exhibition: ‘Indigo: The ‘Blue Gold’  2023

South Asia Institute, Chicago , IL


Multimedia spoken word poetry performance, 2009-2023

This work is a multimedia narrative of the play Neel Darpan in the form of spoken poetry performance which portrays the eco-political exploitation by the colonizers in the early 19th century. This poem also delves into the politics of Indigo, the first national freedom movement in Champaran led by Mahatma Gandhi in 1917-1918 and the unfortunate state of farmers even today.

Exhibition support: GoodEarth: India’s leading luxury design housE



INDIGO : THE BLUE GOLD  Indigo farmers: Ode to Nil Darpan


The blues of indigo
Or the moods of indigo!


The turbulent blue waters
Stormy skies and stormy weather
Under the sky and over the sea


The Union whip
And the farmers blue
Resistance spread wide
Toiling and sweating
Spading and farming
Plowing and cultivating
On meadows green


The parched terra firma, the soil-

the soil that gets infertile after each cultivated crop

Tilling the devils turf
Swinging sapphires in paddocks blue
The natives of region delta
Flaming colonial regime
Torrid, and stifling
The eastern India in the century nineteen


Die of hunger, No food to eat
But grow indigo!
Why! Says a farmer’s child!
Innocently. Why !

 I am hungry!
The woe of a mother
Child and the farmer
Oppressed in drudgery

Hundreds of years of subjugation
Voices of screaming women
Dragging down the fields
Uncluttered tresses
Torn breasts and feet
What the sordid story
 Of exploitation and authority !


The chase continued

for the golden blue devil
The hawk and the worm
The ‘tinkathias’ enforced…
The greed intensifies
The hell break loose,
Like worms they die…
So they do! Even today!

Mahatma steps in…
He walks miles and miles
Preaching ‘right to live’
‘freedom to live’
Kindling awareness
He wrote letters unending
To colonizers ruling

Fighting for the farmers
The hawks threatened him
In his body frame
Unshaken he was
Went on and on…
STOP growing indigo… we will fight! 7

We need wheat and rice
 to survive!

The blood that trickled
 In the fields of blue
 Is the blood that embossed
The chest of indigoes
To reach England 7

Do we need another Mahatma
to fight for 21st century farmers..!! 2

The blues of indigo
 or the moods of indigo! 2
69 lines



THE MODEST INDIGOFERRA: a colonial commodity

An attractive plant
From the family of beans
Purple clusters, and flowered peas
Around the world In tropical regimes.

This plant, colour and the dye  
An antiquity of ancient times
A hue so rich, bold and revered

A colorant, so labour intensive
Crushed and Clustered green leaves,
Softened into vats to the mushy waters
For months and days, in undated

Fermented, in crystalline white
Of sodium hydrosulphite1““““2`
Processed and grounded
solidified blue cakes
Triturated fermented, macerated
Decantated and oxygenated
The magical blue

Such a legacy of this modest plant
The ships that voyaged
 Marin tined around the world
Stopped at Indian shores

Carted the boxes of dye from India
East to west and beyond
Making it the most desirable dye
Magnificent blue they said !
A colonial commodity
Traded across the globe
In the realm of clothing and weaves.

The story of voyages does not end
This magnificent blue gold
Had a flipping side too it
 The Mood board was violence
Slavery forced and indentured it was!
Migration and colonization and beyond

Touching the horrendous human trafficking
Narratives unheard, and unsung, they were!
The saga  of slavery and capitalism
 persisted for decades and centuries unending
The bleeding hues of Red, white and black
made devils blue
The so called  The gold of millennia

What a legacy of this modest plant!
Indigo, the blue gold of old
 A hue so rich, so bold
Authoritative  and empowered
Yet fracturing the magical blue with
exploitation, oppression and grind

57 Lines