RIP You Smart Ass Sparrows


By Suhail Akram

Book of Resistance: If the democrats agree to halt resistance in order to gain a reprieve from repression, they may be very disappointed. A halt to resistance rarely brings reduced repression.

At my Grand Mothers’: A shivering cold leaf fell outside, tress hissing in the late evening breeze, Septembers’ poor summer and lazy chill. The flickering headlight of the distant vehicle coming towards the many huddled women twinkled. There was a musical crescendo -song ‘the houris in heavens are singing for you, oh you the groom of pure light, come soon, oh prince groom.’ It was no groom. We had been waiting for him to arrive, the bride ready, hands hennaed with flowing designs like flowers and long lines and dew droplets and abstract, till her elbows. A prankster guy drove past, smiling, still twinkling his headlights…Inside, my old granny tells me a long story. I tell myself if only I knew she would be so evocative, her words so moving and treasure, I would have recorded her voice… she says she saved him from the claws of the soldiers  away in a camp amidst lofty mountains in four days, that she shouted at the soldiers ‘ don’t dare touch my piece of heart’.., She seems to have forgotten many things with age; he was released after two years, not in four days and granny had nothing to do with that…I wish I could write that story…

Bricks: To pick a brick from a broken wall, to throw the bricks towards bullet proof vehicles, to run for more bricks and to run for cover, to find cover behind a clumsy door, to feel hurt seeing bullet holes on mosque windows, to feel worried that dad is not out in the middle of that skirmish, or my younger brother… to feel hungry, hungry for food, real rice hot soft and baby powder, if you know what I mean! Hungry for revenge… they inside their bullet proof things think they can do whatever they want. They have guns, helmets, pads on their knees, they have dogs, and they have food… and now they have slingshots.

Alienated: A shivering cold leaf outside, alienated from the tree, I suppose…  You are what a novice or something. Why do you get trapped in a fussy jargon of occupation? You say you are alienated, I say, no you aren’t … When they don’t belong to you,  and you don’t belong to them and they forcibly hold on to you and they tell lies that they pamper you and that you are theirs’… Ha, in that case, my dear comrade, they can’t alienate you, strangers don’t alienate… mind it, there is a devil in this detail, expunge … expurgate…

Don’t also mistakenly say that the problem is over securitization. No. Mind it. They have never been here to provide security. They kill, you know it.

Sparrows: Where have all the sparrows gone? Have they inhaled tear gas, or have they gone to shed tears in seclusion because they have inhaled tear gas? Fifty thousand sparrows, small and very small sparrows, small tired wings, greasy feathers; what black grease is this smudged on them… They haven’t got fingers to wash it off, oh! they should take a plunge in Jhelum… now, since all sparrows are silent, miserable eyes over their speechless beaks over their melancholic thoughts over their unheard confusions over their human fear; now they are all running away, the fifty thousand and one sparrows running on their tender feet to shed rivers of tears because they have inhaled tear gas… Grandma’s story is evocative; I should have carried a recorder!

Bone Cream: She is old, and if she dies or may be if I die, the untold stories will die. No telling of the old tales of pain and no recording the old tales of pain. She is so old, you can imagine that when couple of year’s back she fell and broke some of bones in her legs; she had long surgeries and had those solid shinning metallic rods inserted in her legs for a long time. She took the broken bones to her heart, gradually becoming childish in her behaviour. She suffers short term and sometimes long term memory loss. One day when her bones had healed and she was no longer under much duress and inflammation on her knees fizzled out, she asked for medicine. Because she had become habituated to bone creams and oral medicines, she asked for more bone cream. There was none. It was not even required, doctors had said, she is doing fine, they added. No she wants a bone cream, she insisted. Bone creams aren’t marsh mallow that one can have anytime. So one of her grandsons, the brother of this another grandson who grandma claims she saved from the clutches of devil, brought her a pack of fairness cream. She was fooled. She still doesn’t know that the bone cream she applies religiously on her legs is only making her legs fairer.

Clutches: She says he was sleeping peacefully, in his baggy night trousers and his old vest. The dawn was yet to break; even the cocks were fast asleep. And suddenly the soldiers barged in. They grabbed him and asked no questions. She shouted, what has he taken from you, why are you taking him? They drove away. She frantically ran after them, as mothers do when their innocent sons are taken away, she ran… she woke up others. Everyone was up but the soldiers had gone taking him away. She went to the camp amidst the lofty mountain in a place called Khrew, shouted on the soldiers manning on the camps’ door. ‘What had he taken from them, why should he be taken away?’ she kept asking me. There were many mothers like me whose pieces of heart were imprisoned there. They had come for what I had come, she said.

Lyrics: But love has melted me like snow,   a waterfall, as restless as the summer streams, I sleepless go! O, call him gently, friend, O call! With wreaths and dreams I carry wine to Dara’s peaks’…The world below. And yet he roams in distant vales, new wine he seeks! If he comes not, the jasmine pales, And I, and all!… Grandma quotes from Habba Khatoon, melancholic.

Iron Oxides: One day all the fifty thousand and one sparrows, when they were done with all the tears they had shed and had finished flooded all the hills they stood on, plunged in the ocean of their own tears. A big salts ocean of tears from fifty thousand multiplied by two eyes! They swam. The black grease pasted on to them slowly shedding off, drop by drop and shred by shred, till all the sparrows were clean again. They all swam, some bigger bulky sparrows saving smaller shy sparrows from drowning, till they all knew that the wings are free again, that they can all fly again.

So, dear comrade, what do you make out of this story? Let me also tell you a scandalous plot that they had hatched when they all shed tears together on top of the mighty hill. This, they whispered in my ear, will be their coup de grace.

They will all take a beakful of salty tears to the city. Fly over the curfew streets and rain it down on all the metal and iron inside the many military camps. They imagine that the salt will fasten the corrosion. Comrades, the sparrows are smart asses. They say a little iron plus a little oxygen plus a little moisture plus a little salt, which their tears will do, and we will celebrate that grand oxidation of revenge. They have a prayer now, comrade.

Rust rust. Come soon oh iron oxides. Rust rust. Come soon oh iron oxides. Corrode the bloody nozzles. Eat the heavy butts. Oh iron oxides, sweet little iron oxides.

Book of Resistance: For the tyrant has the power to inflict only that which we lack the strength to resist…

Suhail Akram is a broadcast journalist working in New Delhi.

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