February: The Month of Deaths

1

18th February 1983

Thanks to God(?)
History doesn’t stink.
Or else it could have still stinking
the flesh, dust and blood of
that six hours – the insane hours
of carnage in the village of Nellie.

I wasn’t born then
Or maybe I was born that day.
Does it really matter?
I am the name February had called
in 1983, 2002 and 2020
and still calling.

2

Gaddar
(Traitor)

Biology, math, English, history
all were floating around.
She was trying to catch
the mitochondria, the equations of
the real numbers, the reasons of
the battle of Plassey, the detailed answer of
Why did Othello kill Desdemona?
But she could not.

All answers, questions, copies
were running away from her memory,
Tears welled up
she could only see
the ashes and the billowing smoke.

All answers, questions were balling up
taking the faces of those
who came that night
whom she meets every day
whom she met on
her way to school even that day,
shouting in her ears
“GADDAR, GADDAR, G ADDAR.

Not even the valiant Othello of her
rapid reader books
could fight with the
frenzy questions and answers.

Her pen was held hostage
as her whole family was
on 25th February in Shiv Bihar
She could only manage
sketch some faces with masks
stones and guns
and she wrote under those sketches
in bold letters
“GADDAR.”

Note: ‘Gaddar’ is a Hindi word that means traitor.

(This poem was written in agony and anger during the Delhi pogrom of February 2020.
The poem was first published by The Bibliophilia Café)

3

Where is my City?

I search for the city of mine
Where is it?
where it was!
my memory gets blurred.
It was in the ghettos of Godhra
or maybe in the valley of Narmada.
No No
It was in Muzaffarnagar
it was in Nellie
No, it was on the bank of Jhelum
or in the deep forest of Bastar
it was in Kucheipedar
it was on lush green pregnant lands of Nandigram
It was in Marichjhapi.
It was in Jafrabad,chand bagh
and have forgotten.
My memory betrays me always.

My memory has become annals
mixing up dates, years, places
2020,1947,1964,1968,1984,1983, 1989,1992,2002,2007,1979
and still recording…

All the cities of mine are smelling warm gun-powders
the siren of the khakis and that killing shout
all are the same.

Where is my city now?
you have devoured and are devouring it through your hatred.

(About the poem: This poem has been taken from my book, The Musings of the Dark.)

4

In a Hospital in Delhi

The white apron is drenched in blood
the heart has forgotten to beat
it has become stone
with an automated heartbeat.

The sights can even make the delicate flowers stone.

Restless hands are suturing the livers, lungs,
the heap of hands that still have life,
the robotic head
is puzzled to join the right hands to the right bodies.
Some hurts are throbbing like the heart of the just-butchered goat
the bodies have been slaughtered,
but the obtrusive breaths don’t want to bid an unprepared goodbye
the more the hearts are throbbing the more blood spills out
the walls, the tables, the chairs, the white bedsheets
all are trickling human blood.
The deep wounds that couldn’t be stitched
are being stuffed with a rim of cotton,
the nuggets of human flesh have been gouged out.

A mother in the corridor
has come with a sack
standing with inscrutable eyes
no anger, no fear, no hate
no life either.
Just standing as millions of mothers stand every day
for their sons at the entrance.

She empties the sack
on the floor of whitish-red marble;
a severed head, three half-burnt pieces-
one thigh, one hand and a mashed up
lump of stomachs, belly, intestines
have come out.

She is begging
“stitch him, babu
I want to give him the final bath.”

This time the stony eyes of the white apron can’t help
but to shed a drop of tears,
that too is of blood.

(Inspired by a report on GTB hospital after the Delhi riots in February 2020. The interview was published in The Caravan. The poem was first published in The Bibliophilia Cafe)

Moumita Alam is a poet from West Bengal. Her poetry collection, The Musings of the Dark was published in 2020. The book has about a hundred poems written in protest against the humanitarian crisis from the abrogation of article 370, the Delhi riots, and the Shaheen Bagh movement to the unbearable sufferings of the migrant labourers due to the unplanned COVID – induced lockdown.

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