Sunday, June 9, 2013

When I was born




When I was born I was not a child
I was a dream, a dream of revolt
that my mother, oppressed for thousands of years,
dreamt.

Still it is untouched in my eyes
Covered with wrinkles of thousand years, her face
her eyes, two lakes overflowing with tears
have watered my body
I remember she went for water at your well
a mile away scorched by the summer sun
breathless she returned home and what she offered me,
was not water
but her sweat.

You taught her respect:
‘brother, sir, father, mother, we are your children, let us live, father”
I remember
You allowed her not near the village well
You allowed her not near the village hall
You allowed her not near the letters
In the marshland of your cunningness
You trapped my mother and she struggled.
In your empire so violent
every moment my mother was slaughtered.

She will now breathe in a free air
Her body scorched by sun will get cool shade of neem
Your well will wash her feet and
Your village office will be her throne
Your letters will become her weapons.

Look, I am the lord of Saraswati who was thus far yours and yours alone.
I am the lord of Lakshmi who was thus far yours and yours only
My daughter pulls ears of Ganpati considering him an animal
I do not decorate her eyes with lampblack, but with defiance.
Now they will burn and burn
Your flats and tenements, your schools and your offices
Your chains and your police stations, your village offices and your temples.

I am the live coal, the coal that burns
In the hut that you set ablaze.
I have some wind of the freedom
Now I am the fire.

I remember
When I was born I was not a child
I was a dream,
A dream of revolt
That my mother,
Oppressed for thousands of years dreamt.

~Sahil Parmar


Painting by Elisabeth Slettnes

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