Friday, August 31, 2007

Weekend verse

Prison Nightfall

Rung by rung, night descends
its spiral staircase of stars.
A breeze passes gently by,
as if words of love had been whispered.

Trees in the prison courtyard, like exiles
with heads bowed, are absorbed
in embroidering arabesques on the skirt of the sky.
On the crested roof are glittering
the beautiful fingers of moonlight,
dissolving star-shine into dust
and washing the blue sky into white.

In the green corners, dark shadows collide
as if the ache of separation
might eddy and fill my mind.
But one thought keeps running through my heart—
how sweet these moments are. Though
there are those who may concoct tyranny’s poisons,
they will have no victories, not today or tomorrow.

So what if they douse the candles in rooms
where lovers meet? If they’re so mighty,
let them snuff out the moon.

From Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Prison Lyrics in Dast-e Saba

Note: In addition to the country of my birth India, gaining independence sixty years back this month (talked about here), Pakistan also woke to the throes of freedom this month. The echoes of which reverberate even to this day. The lines above were composed by Faiz Ahmed Faiz - a prominent writer and poet during those turbulent times. Even if he initially supported the creation of a separate state, he realized the blind opportunism underlying the partition logic (see brilliant essay by Pankaj Mishra in the New Yorker on the Machiavellian maneuvers of Churchill, the then prime minister of England) of the occupiers (British) after witnessing the communal violence in Punjab (during and after the partition) and the the mysterious deaths of the leaders who led the country to independence. Added to all this the corruption and social intolerance of the new government under Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was the last straw. Faiz’s early enthusiasm for the possibilities of a viable state quickly faded. He was jailed for his writing and these were among the lines he composed during respite from the oppressive solitary confinement that he was subjected to for years...


Sunil, 'Gitmo', Digitally altered photograph

2 comments:

Rantz said...

Thanks for your work. I've linked this particular post, having your URL in my sidebar for sometime.

Sunil said...

Mr. Rantz.
Thank you. Glad you enjoyed this one.