The flags of our fathers

By Huzaifa Pandit

“Jo guzartay thay Daag par sadmay
Faiz ab kaifiyat sabhi ki hai!” -Faiz Ahmed Faiz

[I]t commenced a century ago
as a poet composed his elegy
on his regality that had since
long been a mere formality.
Torn between war and exile he
wished for a wilderness to
swallow the savage civilization.
The pigeons did not cease their flight
and at last: a blotched debased dawn!

They hoisted their flags
dyed in the colours of tyranny.
They said that one stood for
peace and prosperity
and the other stood
for a piety and religiosity.
They rubbished the allegations
of mutual atrocity conveniently
as inevitable accidental casualty!
Nonetheless who were we
to dispute the promise of liberty
that was doled out to all
who chose to lay their stock by
what was now a free country?

We chose to follow
The father religiously:
Neither we heard evil
Neither we saw evil
Neither we spoke evil.
How could we voice
our concerns freely?
the nations were yet in infancy,
we had to bide our time and
wait and endure patiently
to let the fruits of democracy
and piety ripen and
lead us to true liberty.
We bid as we were told:
while time flew by nonchalantly
and age snowed us with
wrinkles of depravity.
Of course Time never stopped
to inquire of us kindly.
Fate too scorned at our folly:
that what is severed irreperably
can hardly be cured with any remedy!

We chose to observe silently
mourning with a funeral solemnity
as pillagers looted the democracy
and religion desecrated humanity.
For how could we
voice our fears freely?
Neither were we conformists
nor could we speak
in a tone revolutionary?
Patriots we weren’t, to the charge
of treason we pleaded: not guilty.
All we did was to mourn silently
as the air was rend
by cries and pleas for mercy.

Justice was haggled off
at the doors of nationality.
“What is religion if not
a persecution of the minority? ”
We are the chosen people
to uphold the sanctity
of our religion and we
are the paradigms of purity.
Dost thou challenge us-
infernal offspring of illegitimacy?
borne by waywardness,
fostered by delinquency?
Nurtured in infidelity,
and fed on rank irreligiosity
damned be thou, thundered
the pulpit of authority!
Who were we to challenge
their authority for they
possessed what Weber
termed political legitimacy.

We could only gaze silently
as reigns toppled – each
armed with a novel ideology!
One laid their stock by mythology
to torment people perpetually:
riots, voilence, rape and murder
all were dispensed equitably
for what is religion,
but a persecution of minority.
The land wept, we wept too
but who were we to challenge
thier authority and popularity?

They banished the poets
and drew a vile strategy:
in no time a peaceful land
was attired in robes bloody!
Now we were brethren suddenly,
united to wipe out our common enemy?
How could we point out
that it was an inexistent enemy?
Betrayals aglore, grievances many:
aided by brethren we slayed
everyone suspected of enimity.
Charges flew thick and fast:
Probably it was a parody
enacted out of curiosity:
Why else would we in a frenzy
drive out an entire community?
Decades have passed quickly
and they say we have crossed sixty
since we were ushered into liberty.

“Why are you so cynical?
why can’t you be happy
even if for one single day only?
Injustice has been kindled
in the pyre of court-kacheri.
Who cares now whether it was
a mosque or a janambhoomi?
Futile to think of the minority
that craves for a sense of security,
Infidels are like parasites
In a religious country.
What do you mean by free speech?
Pooh! Who believes in humanity?
Who wants a secular country?
When did we have one in history?

The saffron belongs to the flag
And not to adorn the bride
with her eyes misty
with the dew of memory?
The moon and stars are
the nation’s property
Not for you to enjoy freely,
we will shield our skies
with blood, smoke and melee.
Can the world match our skill
in brewing suicidal tendency?”

Yesternight I witnessed
A strange dream
I saw the flags fluttering proudly
Gloating to the world:
How men strove and stooped
to unheard levels of senility
to establish their supremacy.
I was about to cry out aloud
when I was roused suddenly.
It then dawned upon me:
Which power is vested in me
That I may challenge this liberty?

1. Bahadur Shah Zafar: roz-e-mamoor-e-duniya main kharaabi hai zafar
Aisi basti sya tau weerana banaya hota

2.Ya mera afsar shaahana na banaya hota
Ya mera taj gadaaya na banaya hota

3. Ruskin Bond: a flight of pigeons

Huzaifa Pandit is into Masters in English from University of Pune. An avid writer and poet, his translation of Urdu poetry not only preserves its evergreen beauty but also adds to it.

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