Thursday, July 11, 2013

I Remember 1984

I want milk. I want milk Ma. 
Screams ran through our rental in Chandigarh
On the morning of October 31, 1984

I was one year old and I was crying in pain, in want, in denied comfort.
All across the streets outside my tenement
Turbaned men and their women cried in pain, in want, in denied comfort.
You killed Indira Gandhi. You murderers. You Freaks. You Whores. You Sikhs

For an era those sounds will come to haunt.
Of bullets raining like fire, 
Of knife cutting through flesh, 
Of bloodcurdling yells from raped, burnt, discarded bodies, 
Of footsteps running in triumph and fear.

And smells of burning tires, of rotting flesh, of flowing streams of dirty blood.
But I slept through it all. I was simply an imp, an infant 
Crying for milk the morning they hacked people of my faith
Through curfew-imposed days when we lived like caged animals
They hacked us into fear.

But I, I slept through it for 29 years. 
Till today

Today I am awake
I hear it in the court rulings, 
the acquitals, 
in rioting thousands everytime there’s a question of religion
I hear it in the silence
of orphaned lots who not only lost their parents
but their faith

I have not forgiven Godhra
Yet I have forgotten Blue Star

I am the child born to a faith repressed by you high warring lords
Keeping your chairs and sticking by the guns of your voting banks
I am the woman whom you martyred at the pulpit of religion
You castrated my men, burnt my children, dismembered my soul
I am the man whom you forced to take a knife to my hair
Strip-searched to my naked skin, stripped of my identity

I am the forgotten blood
I am the forgotten Pain
Mine is the denied justice
Mine is the ignored hate

Like a third-rate step-cousin to the Hindu or the Muslim 
You kept me out of your prayers, your jihad, your Ramnam

You have forgotten me.
But still
I am the muse of your jokes
I am the strength of your nation
I am to die to keep your borders safe
I even do the Bhangra for your stage.

I remember 1984
I smell the gunpowder
I remember the massacre
I remember it all Ma

I am 30 years old and I still cry in pain, in want, in denied comfort.


Anonymous said...

Welcome back!

What if there was only one religion in the world? Would the violence stop?

It is human beings committing violence on other human beings.
The notion of the 'other', is a double edged sword. It makes it easier for the perpetrator to inflict the violence and at the same time feeds off the hurt of the victims.

Manali Shah said...

Powerful words, Sharin.