Poems | Shazia Nigar

"Girl at the Gallery" (Watercolor and ink on handmade paper) - Sabina Yasmin Rahman

1. Be Kind love

Be kind for having failed your twelve-year-old self's dreams
for having been fired from jobs
where the background score to your life was
tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock.

Be kind to yourself for pronouncing Athena wrong,
for not knowing how to care for a blue-green eyed cat
for having spent warm summer days in a hazy daze of Parvati smoke and dreams in limbo,
for having slept with men who lay on your bed as the sun spilled into your room
while you picked up cigarette butts, used plastic glasses with remnants of last nights drink
and wiped off charcoal feet other guests left behind
and who later said “All I remember is I woke up with my shoes still on.”
Be kind to yourself for not having felt anger then. Be kind.

Be kind to that boy who loved you when you didn't know how to love.
Who smiled as bright as the Narmada sun on a bulging river under velvet blue skies.
Who liked to flirt with other women making you pregnant with jealousy
and unearthed crevices where unknown shadows played pee-ka-boo, be kind.

Be kind to that girl who doesn't hang with you anymore
She is fleeing herself, only later will she know.
She squirms at parts of herself she can't own, you disgust her when you love her whole.
She doesn't know how to be friends, be kind, for she is only a bliss seeking soul.
Be kind to the autowallah who won't go by the meter, he knows Hauz Khas is no village,
it's where the Gods of liberalisation curse Allen's angel faced hipsters.
He can fix a meal and a bit for the cheap treatment his wife gets
at the teeming stinking capital city's chemotherapy cancer cell.

Be kind to the murderer, the fanatic and the rioting Prime Minister
for there is hell raging in their minds, only with kindness can hatred subside.
Difficult is the terrain of a guilt split inner life.
No one wants to be possessed only by their darker side.
Everybody only ever wants to be loved like their baby selves were deprived.

Be kind to those who know the stale breath of hypocrisy,
booze puke nights of veiled shame, namaaz with abbu and ammi.
They know not the freedom your tongue suckled from breasts,
coconut water for one under Gokarna sun and dusty barsaati lived Delhi days.
Freedom that strengthens your prurient white bones and deepens the red flow of your heart
so that it shows on your toes and in lipstick made of pig fat.

Be kind to those who unlike you can sway by a clock
and slide judgement laced looks when you tell them you don't have a long term plan.
You may leave a job if bored, but baby deer eyes pierce you like a sharp beaked bird.
You stretched max-i-mum, and yet can't match society's rhythm. Tch-tch-ta-dum!
Howl: you don't want to save the world, you got to save yourself first! Be kind love.

Be kind to children, kindness is learnt.
Revolution is kindness transforming little minds
into expanded love generators, that breathe life.

P.S: The idea of writing on 'Be Kind' was inspired by an explosive poem by Allen Ginsberg called 'Who Be Kind To'. I have referenced him in the poem but I also wanted to state it clearly.

2. Untitled Poem

At present, lovers meet in the eighteenth century.
Softly marred with the grumble of a land mower and flood lights,
Safdarjung's tomb, sits in meditative poise.
Lovers enter and exit. Some amble along the pavilion,
others hold hands, kiss and bask in the char bagh sun.
They lean on each other, against white marble and red sandstone.
A man spreads prayer mats in the mosque at the East gate.
In this heterotopia of time, believers and lovers prevail.
Centuries later, when the carcass of capitalism
will be the monument of our lives, perhaps they will write,
medieval India belonged to lovers, modernity
was reigned by Hindutva and Fatwas.

P.S: the poem has been written in the context of the threat issued by the Hindu Mahasabha that they will marry off couples who are seen in public on Valentines day. When lovers are being denied the right to love by fundamentalists of all shades it almost appears as though Safdurjangs tomb is giving them refuge. Last week when I went there, apart from the staff the others were all couples and at the mosque in the monument people were preparing for Friday prayers. This co-existence of lovers and believers was striking given the present context. What also struck me was the play of time.

3. Untitled poem

How dare you steal words my nanima needs to soothe her soul.
Five times a day, the words with which my maulvi sahab,
loyal to Allah, gentle to all, calls my brothers to pray.
Did you not hear the soothing strain of azaan at the break of dawn?
“Allah-u-Akbar” is not a death knell, it is a wake up call.
Your bullets have emptied meanings from words.

P.S: This poem was written after the Taliban attack on the Army School in Peshawar where  children where gunned down amidst a shout of “Allah-u-Akbar” by one of the gunman.

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