Poems | Noor

Credits: Amrit Ghosal

What must I write to you?

What must I write to you?
You, who have read the sparrows, stars, death, and love
You, who have danced to revolutionary raps and sung of widows who were happy
You, who have flown over dead empires and dived into heartless democracies,
You, who have drunk hunger and eaten thirst
You, who have seen cats rot on streets and babies fly in smoke
You, who have heard people who only cried once and cried when children heard too much
You, who sleep with the ghosts of dead mothers
You, who take refuge in empty graves
What must I write to you?

I will write to you of the dead streets
The yellow lamps, 
The vegetable markets,
And of love still new.
Of the loud neighbour,
The dog that who pisses on the lawn every morning,
The kid who cries over a broken toy,
The teachers yawning in classes
And of the mother stuck in traffic,
And of the seas and skies still blue.
I will write to you
Of a world that waits for you.

Oh, But you are Free

You are free, they say, to think
As long as you ossify your mind in an ideology,
In cultures and rituals that maintain the pre-Darwinian sanctimony.

You are free, they say, to express
Therefore under bridges, in parks, men may come and men may piss
But don’t you dare from a lover’s lips
Under bridges, in parks, receive a kiss.

You are free to choose your governments, they say
As long as it chooses the meat at your buffet.

Ji. Yes. Agreement. Assent. Obediance.
Sovereign. Socialist. Secular. Democratic. Republic.
No. Nhi. But why?
Go to Pakistan!

You are free, they say, to pick your outfit
As long as your kurta scales not 32 inches,
But a whole yardstick.

You are free to speak, you must speak, they say,
But the freedom of your words stuns them into silence
As if the volume of your ideas has hollowed out the air from their lungs.

You are free to stay informed, they say
As long as your TV boasts of journalists rambling on about
The width of the Prime Minister’s chest
And not the length of the farmer’s life cut in half.

You are free to condemn, they say
As long as it is the murder of your neighbour who worked at city bank,
Not the lynching of the Dalit who cleaned your filthy tank.

You are free they say, to be in all your length and width
There isn’t a white chalk to draw Laxman Rekhas with
Oh, but you have your sanskriti
The legacy of your grandfather,
The honour of your father,
The izzat of your khandaan,
The pride of your institutions,
The expectations of your society,
The hushed, invisible Laxman rekhas,
Circling round and round
All around you.

Oh, but you are free, you are free.
Repeat after them: I am free, I am free.

No comments:

Post a Comment