• The Maps of A New Hindustan

    Pratishtha Pandya

    August 19, 2019

    Image courtesy: The Open Magazine

    If you were to gag me
    and muffle my rebellion,
    or put a chowkidar
    at every street corner
    to stop and interrogate me
    about my community
    my religion
    my whereabouts
    my loyalties,
    or put me in jail
    and imprison my thoughts
    blowing in the wind
    like the Muezzin’s call for Azan,  
    or throttle and dare me
    to sing patriotic songs;
    I wouldn't tolerate.
    No more.
    Now I will be the traitor
    Not a sycophant,
    Not your yes-man
    I will not die for you
    or not bow this head
    at the feet
    of your formidable throne
    No raised hand
    No weapons
    No more at the service of
    your machismo
    I will not move an inch,
    will not walk obediently
    on your suggested paths.
    Will not blemish
    my imagination
    by dipping it
    in your tainted ideals
    I will not trade
    creativity for hatred.
    Yes, I will write poems.
    Like Agha Shahid Ali.
    On your walnuty heart
    I will carve
    intricate Khatam-band.
    Forests of Birches and Chinar
    will grow on the tip of
    every word, my chisel.
    In the silent spaces
    between words shall bloom
    fragrant, purple fields of Kesar.
    Silken villages, silken roads
    once destroyed
    peace-loving members of my family
    shall come to inhabit
    sounds of these words.
    And from their rhythm
    shall flow pure waters
    of Jhelum and Chenab
    Here is where
    we shall redraw
    the maps of a new Hindustan

    Read the Gujarati original here.

    Pratishtha Pandya is a poet and translator working across Gujarati and English, whose first collection "lalala..." (ળળળ...) has been published by Navjivan Samprat. She is a faculty member at the Ahmedabad University.

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