‘PUPPETS LIFE ENDS ON STRING’ – Anand Thakore

 

 

The lone surviving gunman of 26/11 was hanged at Pune’s Yerawada Jail at 7.30 am on Wednesday.  Asked for his last wish the 25-year-old terrorist from Faridkot village in Pakistan’s Punjab province said: ‘Gharwalon ko milna hai’ ( I want to meet my family) -Times Of India, November 22nd. 2012



See:  they recur, approach and recur beyond terror and grave,
The low tin roofs and ambient wheatfields,
The hills and goat-filled alleys of remembered infancy –

And soon – but here they are already,
Filling their water-pots, tending to their goats,
Those I could not forgive for being so poor,

So blind to my rage; for refusing
To see themselves reflected in my hate.
They cannot see me now, of course,

Capering through these paths and thin mud walls. –
But this is hardly strange;
It was so much like this when I lived amongst them,

Only suddenly more acceptable now.
What is strange is being unable to feel the cold they feel,
The fireside warmth, as winter comes over us,

Here in Faridkot, village of my birth, visited once
And blessed for all time, – as my mother
Never forgot to mention at meals – by the Sufi,

Baba Farid, mystic of the floating basket,
Whose rapt levitations I marvelled at as a child,
And whose spirit I spat upon when I turned fourteen:

There was so little left by then in our lives to praise,
And his talk of delight in poverty had come to seem
Like senseless rant; the little land we owned sold

For so little, our torn pockets empty, our jackets threadbare,
As we stared, half-starved, at the full moon of Id, with no goats
left  to slaughter or sell , or barter for new clothes and sweets;

No money for cooking-oil or kerosene, then none for wheat;
And then, to top it all, that hard, unoutstareable look
In the eyes of a tribal girl, which could only mean no, never,

Not good enough, never will be –  Baba Farid,
Whom I dismissed as a fake when I turned into a man.
And whose verse the living still lift their arms to,

In the warmth of winter fires at Faridkot!  –
I am glad he was with me,
Before that final steeling of burnt nerves against all fear –

Terror of the torqued neck, trapdoor and noose. –
Your last wish, he said, will not be granted,
But will surely be voiced –

A single sentence that survives your death.
I am glad it was this and nothing else:
Let them come to me now –  listen, I say it again –

Those I ran away from; gharwalon ko milna hai.

 

© 2013 Anand Thakore. First published by RaedLeafPoetry-India 2013.

Anand Thakore

Anand Thakore was born in Mumbai in 1971. He spent a part of his childhood in Britain and has lived in India since then. Waking in December (2001) , Elephant Bathing(2012) and Mughal Sequence (2012) are his three collections of poetry.  A Hindustani classical vocalist,  he trained for many years with Pandit Satyasheel Deshpande and has given concerts in various parts of the country. He is the founder of Harbour Line, a publishing collective, and runs Kshitij, an interactive forum for musicians. He holds an MA in English literature and is the recipient of a National Scholarship for music, a grant from the Charles Wallace India trust and the Sur-Mani award for excellence in musical performance. www.anandthakore.com

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