Beneath a pile of charred rubble

sodden with splattered blood

hanging on precariously to the

half rotten dead in the drain

killed in the name of God

now a bait of murderous mob

for the unsuspecting

who come looking for their own

I am Delhi

ravaged by my kith, shamed by my kin

I bewail my destiny

marked with massacre and pogroms

where justice is branded and auctioned off

to the highest bidder

I am Delhi

mourning the saffron atop the minarets of mosques

mobs chanting Jai Shri Ram in my lanes

to leave behind a bloody trail of men burnt alive

the stench of burning flesh nauseates me

I am Delhi

my days are filled with laments, night with wails

ripping open wounds of 1984

when death danced naked at the bonfires

lit around the necks of hapless men

I am Delhi

a witness to babes torn from mothers’ breast and butchered

my drains run red with the blood of the innocent

without Zafar to plead and implore for my own

and Ghalib to bemoan the slaughter of my lambs

my garment of affliction hangs heavy with filth

I am Delhi

Marathas, Nadir Shah, Abdali and Firangis

took their turns to ravage and leave me in ruins

scars left by marauders are again wrenched open

by those who murder to save their gods from infidels

beseeching Aidos, I am Delhi

daring daughters of Shaheen bagh

‘too much’ women for saffron clad

with their hijabs, bangles and red dotted foreheads

are hope of the two nations born

swaddled in the bloodletting so mammoth

that its hundred heads multiply when severed

let them comfort me with their peace and patience

I am Delhi

Nalini Priyadarshni is a feminist poet, writer, translator, and educationist though not necessarily in that order who has authored Doppelganger in My House and co-authored Lines Across Oceans with late D. Russel Micnhimer. She is the poetry editor of the literary magazine, The Women Inc. Her poetry, prose and photographs have appeared in numerous literary journals, podcasts and international anthologies including The Lie of the Land published by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. A nominee for the Best of The Net 2017 she lives in Punjab, India and moonlights as a linguistic consultant.


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One Comment

  1. Powerful and well said Nalini!