Abha Iyengar (Colours of Love and Barriers)

Abha Iyengar
Abha Iyengar is an award-winning, internationally published poet, author, editor, and British-Council-certified Creative Writing mentor. She has eight published books to her credit, and her collection of poems is titled, “Yearnings”.  Her poems have been included in various journals and anthologies, most recently Sahitya Akademi’s, “The Lie of the Land” (2020), Red Rivers' "The Shape Of A Poem" (2021) and "Witness: Red River's Poetry of Dissent" (2021). She was longlisted for the WE- Kamala Das Poetry Award '20. Website: www.abhaiyengar.com

This Fight is Not Over

The rod falls on his back.
Again, and then again.
His back is lean, young.
It is not used to torture.
It has only known love.
Umesh has only known love.
The love of Suhail.

The rod that falls is vicious.
It only talks of hatred.
The man wielding the rod
Is a policeman. He has a florid face,
A fleshy body, a sagging stomach
Held up by a thick belt, a steel buckle. 
He hates Umesh’s back.
The rod falls harder.
“You love the boy, Suhail?”

Umesh can only nod.
His mouth is clenched tight,
His eyes want to stop 
The tears from falling.
“You are a boy who loves
a boy?”
Umesh whispers, “Yes!”
The policeman walks
To the other side.
His face is close now.
 “Tell me now, you love a boy?”
Umesh screams, “Yes!”
“Yes, it’s not against the law.
No one can stop us.”
The policeman guffaws. His belly shakes.
“Quiet, boy. We are the law.”

Umesh hears screams from another cell.
It must be Suhail. His lovely, beautiful,
Fragile Suhail. 
“Let them do what they will.
We will come out. We will not hide,”
That is what Suhail had said.

The rod is now on his thighs.
Hard. Vicious. Unforgiving.
Umesh collapses on the bench.

Someone throws water on his face.
“Get up, you are free,” says a sweet voice.
He stumbles out. 
Suhail stands there, unharmed.
Suhail of the perfect skin. Unblemished. 
Beautiful, smiling Suhail, his smile harsh.

‘I am sorry, Umesh,” he says,
“I told them I did not love you.
There is nothing between us.
They let me go. And now you.”
He turns his back and leaves.
The woman with the sweet voice follows.

The policeman guffaws, his belly caught
by his too-tight belt. 

Umesh stares at him. He says,
“This fight is not over. My love will win.”

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