Ghazal for Stateless Bodies
“Indefinite incarceration of men, women and children in conditions worse than those of convicted prisoners, only because they were unable (or not enabled) to prove their citizenship, greatly diminishes India—its government, but even more its people.” —Harsh Mander, The Dark Side Of Humanity And Legality: A Glimpse Inside Assam’s Detention Centres For “Foreigners”
The universe is filled with papers of our whereabouts, but which way is home? Painted in the colour of dawn & woodsmoke, Beki assures heaven but not home. Blistered bodies left to gnats, numbered children on most nights imagine bruised shades of Palash, warm zephyrs flaring through steppes covered in wet ash & home. In this watercourse of dispossessed cadavers, we’re muddy currents of history, hemming our cries into lullabies to reverberate across thick meadows of our childhood, our home. Were it possible, we would’ve trekked our cut of heaven & fetched aubades for you. Maybe we dreamt it all: silk eels turning into sparrow plumes, chiselled fathers back home— How bizarre to still have faith, to dream of departing on horseback along through death. Let the sentinels of salvation put down their guards & open the last postern to home, Let the turfs of desolate Qawwalis finger the Gulmohar-misted evenings of Khagrabari. How to expunge those visions of crocheted streets bustling with Bulbuls opening to home? Our blood is molasses now, the sky from here a silhouette of a turquoise God & when rain ploughs the earth, we can overhear the screams of our sisters hauled behind our home— Because you barely listen to choruses of shifting grasses, to whistles of the ancient land or see the trysts of golden flowers on crisp days, you know nothing about your land, our home.
Abhijit Sarmah is a junior student at Jagannath Barooah College in Jorhat, India, and is pursuing a degree in English Literature and Language. His poetry has previously appeared in Rigorous Magazine, South 85 Journal, The Scriblerus and Not Very Quiet.