Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Nation Wants To Know Why You Write Poetry When You Should Be Studying

THE NATION
WANTS TO KNOW
WHY YOU WRITE POETRY
WHEN YOU SHOULD BE
STUDYING

This pesky nation of yours
seems to want to know a lot,
so I will say this:

I am young
and furious, and my voice
gathers rust,
prone as it is to noise
that demands I sew my lips
into silences

where only
canned dreams
and clockwork desires
speak

I am young
and furious, and my voice
yearns to sing
to a different tune

and it will:
its frayed ends and jagged edges
will spill blood
on all that you declare holy –

on the 207-foot-tall tricolor
and the mandated 1-foot space
between
me
and the
boy
sitting next to me

on the weighted boots
of history
that condemned to death
a boy’s yearning for stardust

on the six yards of sanskaar
and fifty-inch veils of modesty
which brand my love
an obscenity

on the madness
that lynches a man
with just a lingering whisper
of look in his fridge

on the lines
that become fences
that become walls
built upon grave after grave
of frozen uniforms
and butchered hearts.

Yes,
hear me as I drip blood –
its red seeping
into an earth

where answers are weeds
and questions burst
into life
without fear

where poetry
hits every discordant note
on the way

as it soars above

auto-tuned voices
peddling doctored truths
and photoshopped patriotisms

So hear me
as I sing
as I kiss
as I tell



Written in solidarity with the JNU students protesting the state's crackdown on dissent in academic spaces (and the country as a whole), its excesses ranging from slapping outrageous charges of sedition on student leaders to giving a free rein for violence against journalists and students.

This poem was featured in the first issue of Mithila Review.

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful. You have expertly knitted together the many attention-needy issues of recent times. Congrats Zainab! I liked the stanza on the soldier. Touching indeed!

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