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Tag: #ShaheenBagh

A Memory, a Prayer and a Dream

-Christmas Day, 2021

i.
One morning, during the plague
that followed the fires
that scarred the capital,

you were feeding our pet rat,
when word came 
from the town cryer:

The farmers have circled the city.

ii.
A year and many deaths later,  
the king and his first minister
finally concede.

It will take another long year 
to pry open the jails, 
but when spring arrives that March,

Shaheen Bagh is back in bloom.

iii.
‘The change’ comes fast when it comes:
the police and army trade their lathis 
and guns for the tools they need 

to build homes and hospitals.
On every corner, libraries sprout,
like winter wheat planted 

over obsolete borders.
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Song for You

-Hauz Rani, 6:24 p.m.

Let’s walk out into the light, my love!
Why not? There’s time before night, my love.

This sky is hard to define, it’s true; 
both bats and birds are in flight, my love.

Recall how we shivered for hours that night—
Shaheen Bagh was crowded and bright, my love.

This morning, rain washed our smokey sky;
Hany Babu’s still jailed tonight, my love. 

A coward, yes; I’ve surrendered my name—
to this broken world, I write my love.
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This Number Does Not Exist

-for Manglesh Dabral

We were on the run,
and things were changing fast;

one moment, we were huddled 
on a windswept rocky ridge in Garhwal

peering down at an approaching line
of police and pack mules,

and the next, we were avoiding 
the CCTV Cameras

in Haridwar Junction;
you warned me:

Our enemy has many phone numbers,
and I didn’t understand you,

but also I did. We finally boarded 
a train destined 

for the Singhu Border, 
or Shaheen Bagh, or home;

when you disappeared, I took 
out my phone and dialed you;

a stranger’s voice answered,
This number does not exist.

Squatting and shaking
in the space between coaches,

I wrote my father a postcard.
I told him how much I loved him,

that I was trying to find 
my way back. 
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Not a Poem or a Song

—for Shaheen Bagh

Yesterday, you asked me to write a poem
or a song about the women of Shaheen Bagh,
and I laughed and said,
that’s not possible—
the women of Shaheen Bagh
are a poem and a song—
but last night as I drifted
off to sleep in my warm bed,
it came to me that I’d been wrong—
the women of Shaheen Bagh
are not a poem or a song,
they are women who have been sitting
for weeks, night and day, on a road
in spite of cold wind and hard pavement,
in spite of the threat of lathi’s,
tear gas and jail—
they’ve been sitting because they won’t stand
to see students beaten by police,
to see unjust laws divide the land—
because they are stubborn and right and strong—
and that, my friend, is more powerful and beautiful
than any poem or song anywhere.

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