• I am language

    May 7, 2016

    (Her Voice in First Person)

    Keki Daruwalla

    I am language
    I don’t just speak
    I also hear.
    I must hear the street
    listen to the trapped air
    hissing up from under the flagstones;
    Keep my ears unplugged
    for the grind of the cane-crusher, rice-huller
    river and watermill;
    not to forget the friendly cry-and-chirp
    of a swarm of starlings
    over a Muslim mausoleum.

    That Muslim mausoleum
    may ruffle my friends in the right wing.
    Never! They are good secular people:
    only the other day the culture Czar
    extolled Dr. Kalam’s nationalism
    despite his being a Muslim.
    You can’t get more “nishpuksh” than that now, can you!
    And a lady minister with a carving knife
    (did ever you see such a thing in your life?)
    split Indians into two assonantal halves—
    Ramzadas and Haramzadas; (heart-warming).
    Another dignitary was sympathetic
    both to Dalit children burnt alive
    and a stone thrown at a dog;
    (he was sympathetic to the dog, not the stone).
    And the Assam Governor
    while confining Hindus to India
    permitted Muslims to go anywhere—Bangladesh
    Pakistan, Afghanistan (did he mention Yemen?)
    as long as they could get visas.
    As a result I, language, bhasha in Hindi, zuban in Urdu
    am happy with the tolerance shown by the right wingers.
    Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 6.42.57 AM

    Acc-1155 Nasreen Mohamedi
    Nasreen Mohamedi / Lalit Kala Akademi

    Keki Daruwalla is an eminent poet who also writes short stories and novels. He returned his Sahitya Akademi Award during the protests of Indian writers in 2015 against growing intolerance in the country.

    Poem © Keki Daruwalla

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