They came down here
In the Calais jungle to escape
Their own jungle back home
In the Kurdish Iraq or Sudan.
The refugees risked lives
Across the dangerous seas
And landed in the beckoning France.
The dispossessed lived in tents and dreamed of
Better existence in a foreign land.
Things changed this week as
The French authorities came down to
Evict and demolish these primitive camps.
The refugees protested but to no avail
They stood no chance against the state.
The migrants had entered another hell
In that piece of cultured, democratic France
Home to the Revolution of 1789
Now—reluctant to host children of ethnic strife and violence
How things get changed over intervening time!
Dreams, not shelters, got demolished by the riot police
And refugees are again made homeless in civilized lands!
Cries the spirit of enlightened France.
Three kids, raincoat-wrapped,
Bulging backs, plastic bottles
Hands tiny, standing unsure,
Free hands interlinked,
Waiting to cross, a wet Mumbai road,
By wading through the screaming buses,
Bikes and fancy cars.
Three helpless figures,
Stoic and silent.
The mad machines come hurtling
Spread panic and hardly care for lives,
Or rights of the pedestrians;
The height of arrogance of the
Indian automobiles, terrifying missiles!
I will be with you Ashraf tonight and other nights
To listen to your poetry full of truths a great poet like you reveal.
Tonight, I will show solidarity with you through the simple act of reading your poems and thus, symbolically, like rest of the reading/protesting world against your
Death sentence by a Saudi court on most weak grounds.
What a great appreciation!
The public joins in a big event to condemn a refugee and a writer for writing beliefs, the foundational stone of great civilizations and clinging to them, not the ones enforced by blind systems.
Of course, I will not be joining any world-wide group but reading your poems
In my suburban Mumbai home and registering my tiny support to freedom of expression.
Mine is a subaltern voice not heard or found in any glam literary fest but it matters not because folks like me, middle-class, professionals, hard-working and angry with a greedy capitalism that keeps on reducing them to the hapless 99 % and this has become a real force as it has finally awakened and cannot be put down by hegemonic structures for long.
Ideas are material indestrubile. Dictators can never vanquish ideals and humanism.
The logic is simple.
More brutality; more resistance.
More Arab Springs will soon follow in frosty lands
More Occupy Wall Street campaigns across cities of the globalised village will erupt against One PPercent.
And more Ashraf Fayadhs blossom to oppose any totalitarian system through bare words and ideas potent to change the moribund!
I feel inspired by you, dear Ashraf, because, in the face of death, you refused to recant and decided to take on the Kafkaesque world by your bold stance.
By your courage you have proved the might of an individual who stands for democratic principles and that approach elevates your poetry many thresholds above from the anemic self-seeking poetry of today!
You are charged with blaspheme and atheism. Shelley, too, did the same.
Human rights are sacred and cannot be trampled.
Unknown to you perhaps, living in a cell, dear Ashraf, you have created your own religion of dissent and your actions have further sanctified the philosophy of literary resistance that has the power to topple notorious tyrants.
To-night, on other lonely nights, whenever low, I will be reading you to find inner strength to fight any system that stifles dissent.
You are our own
And they cannot kill the supporting millions!
Let us then all stand for peace fragile, yet strong
And give it another chance!
Says an e-mail from the city of Ramallah,
Yes, we must—
Writes another youth from Tel Aviv.
Let there be no Auschwitzs in future
Or, barbed wires across God-created lands,
A youth writes from Sarajevo,
Hatred leads nowhere.
What train blasts have achieved?
Asks a kid from terror-ravaged Mumbai.
Except the ugly face of distorted hate,
Says Hamid from pock-marked bare Kabul,
It comes back to kill
Like a demented man in Karachi.
The ethnic hatreds
Will never achieve—
The goals of the deadly merchants of death.
There will be always—
War-mongers and warlords,
Ordinary peace-loving folks,
Arranged against the other
In unjust societies.
We will not let them ride—
These few war-dogs,
We will prevail,
We are the millions of people
Craving peace and security
In an already-battered world
Suffering from climate change
Can kill the body
But not the spirit
Of pure Peace.
Let us unite, then
And make it
The latest credo
For the new century
Of hope and belief
And trash the forces
Via this simple anthem
Of love and faith.
Will there be a single tear shed,
Once I am no more?
Emerging from the shadows to
Cry over the simple rough bed
Forever left vacant
In a dim room?
Or, the old rocking chair
Near the iron gates locked,
In the red-bricked courtyard,
Framed by the scented flowers
And spreading bougainvillea,
Kissed by the waves,
The old creaking chair,
Left in a shady corner,
After the dark,
Will no longer rock?
Will somebody ever
Remember a small guy,
In a scary world of objects,
Near the waterfronts,
An honest guy who did his 9-to-5 job
And caring for them all,
And who died unsung,
A little part of rusted junk,
In a civic- hospital bed,
Made of iron,
Facing the wide doors,
In the city of Mogadishu,
Amid the rumble of guns
All alone, eyes blank,
Abandoned by his very own,
Like retreating army,
When he was alive,
And breathing deep,
And, often during nights,
In his restless sleep,
Called out their names,
And dreamed of tiny homes,
Full of fun
That echoed with loud kid- laughter once,
Where, over the years,
He was turned into
A sepia picture,
Tucked away into a cramped attic,
No longer missed.
They searched the grave site
But could not find
The remains of
Our beloved Garcia Lorca
In that potential site,
In the year 2009.
Lorca shot down and killed
With three others
By the murders
Wearing military uniforms,
In the Spanish Civil War,
In August, 1936,
And left the bodies somewhere
In Fuente Grande,
Near a winding mountain road
That connects the villages of
Viznar and Alfacar;
The great liberal poet
Is not found where he is
Believed to be buried,
Yet he is found everywhere,
In millions of hearts!
Girl child is an angel
And like other modern angels
Born in a skeptical age!
The commercial culture gleefully
Markets the winged species in the malls/outlets
And promotes a belief in their benign existence
For humanity suffering many ills
But miserably fails to see a real one in the slum
Tending to siblings as a substitute mother
Or a brick kiln working for the family bread!
As a tiny flower blooming in the dusty backyard
The girl child stands the danger of being
Trampled underneath the prancing feet.
Earlier homes were safe for the trusting child
With wide eyes and smile beatific
But now such middle-class homes also harbor
Dirty family secrets and muted cries and threats;
More shockingly, media society, such dark tales of incest
And the violations of a young mind/body by her own kinsmen
Once taboo, now no longer disturb a jaded collective conscience
Dismissed as another story of violence on the powerless!
A Happy International Day of Girl Child!
Midnight cold-n-cruel unfolds
At the witching hour the moon
Hides her scarred oval face and disappears
Then the raging curs and December wind
Keep him awake in the well-lit apartment
At the 10th floor in the Vasant Enclave, a
Leafy suburb of New Delhi,
Where the wealthy and the powerful live;
A shriek is heard that congeals his blood
A loud terrifying shriek travelling up,
A woman calling out desperately:
Help! Help! Please help!
And loud footsteps are heard and
Muted cries and barbaric laughter
As if a pack of laughing hyenas is loosed
Upon a prey in the concrete jungle;
The nerd loses his peace and peers out
Into the brightly-lit alley outside the wall of
The gated community, well-secured and patrolled;
He finds no human figure out there!
But the shrieks are heard again-n-again
Rising in a crescendo that shatters the eardrums!
Next morning his hosts tell the geek an urban legend
Years ago a young working woman got murdered
After being raped by few thugs high on drugs;
The folks in the neighbourhood did nothing to
Help her, the poor object of combined male lust;
Since then, on dark nights, her ghost stalks the
Deserted narrow alley and raises hell by knocking
On each door that was once closed for pleading her!
The spectral presence slowly drove the scared
People to sell their flats to strangers but
The lonesome shrieks followed them
To their new homes everywhere.
Although rapes/murders have not stopped even after that
Gruesome episode of urban indifference, and,
The gleaming city of the flyovers and high-rises has turned into a graveyard of unburied and the revengeful female ghosts, demanding justice.
Why this ongoing nightmare? he asks.
Well, some can see such stalking ghosts but the governments cannot!