Partition 1947 - A Poem by Usha Kishore

Partition is central to modern identity in the Indian subcontinent, as the Holocaust
is to identity among Jews, branded painfully onto the regional consciousness
by memories of almost unimaginable violence.    (William Dalrymple)

Usha Kishore
this subcontinent is a nation no more no more it is a wretched body
of broken bones flesh gut and blood spilling across railway tracks
across wine red seas across the politics of deceit across a faraway island
that ruled the seas only to be split up by history and its own people
tired of divisions tired of being slaves of bigger nations who ruled
land sea and sky an island nation showered by the curses of its colonies
who trembled under its foot curses showered by centuries that quaked
under the roar of its cruel canons its brute desire to conquer the world

this subcontinent is a nation no more no more its suicidal hands
slicing off its sea its land its sky mapping its own desires of self-rule
its terrors in the wake of its own reforms its fears of its own thirty million
gods who metamorphosed into blood and gore its two nation theories
that created more nations of discord among its heterogeneous races
its multifarious languages its nefarious rituals its bloodthirsty people
descending into chaos in a motherland torn apart by strife leaving
a million songs unsung a million tales untold a million dreams undreamt

this subcontinent is a nation no more no more its everlasting mutinies
its war mongering dynasties its power hungry leaders spawned
by bigotry and animal passion all falling under the spell of an island
kingdom queen of all nations ruling the waves this subcontinent
its geographies marking its histories its languages chronicling its cultures
its blaspheming men raping its women birthing a generation of bastards
hacking a nation’s breast splitting open its womb this dark subcontinent
is a broken down cannibalistic goddess created by fair men with fairer
dreams of a better world for themselves in hill stations in summer capitals
in a virgin land that prostitutes itself to white masters a land of culture
subjugating itself to anarchy a land of peace opening itself to violence
its hapless female soul trapped between many libidinous male gods
descendants of some other sky who write a crazed and bloodied history
of a myriad lives trampled in a myriad border crossings on the breast of time

this subcontinent is a nation no more no more this subcontinent wallowing
in bloodbaths has no beginning no end its seething memories stretching
across the centuries a standing testament of imperial follies a distortion
of historical trajectories that eclipse nations making trysts with destinies
at midnight when the world sleeps this subcontinent will divide into two
its cities ablaze its furies unleashed smothering all sense and sensibility
shrinking its languages groping for lost words and time weeping in funereal
silence on a maimed land a mutilated apology of a nation sowing seeds of
discord and the mother nation waging an inglorious war on its glorious Raj

this subcontinent is a nation no more no more it lies cowering
under the mantle of never ending night when wolves howl
when vultures tear open its guts when myths devour its children
when daybreak is a legend that only happens upon other skies
this subcontinent will weep until the end of time in blood and tears
for tearing itself asunder like some monster child tired of its own
screams this subcontinent and its seismic shifts of ideologies
its vicious politics of partition defining the contours of its land
sea and sky  defiling its people like a plague an eternal curse hangs
upon its people in the poignant cry of an old nation self-immolating
at the altar of  freedom sometimes scarlet sometimes stygian
sometimes silver like lightning piercing the heart of a weeping sky. 

(Inspired by William Dalrymple’s article, “The Great Divide” on the partition of India, 1947, in The New Yorker, June 2015)

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