do you put our narratives on a weighing scale?
when there’s your familiar blood
politically differentiated from our familiar blood
together calling out for help on our streets.
(pray ask when has blood ever left my streets?)
Quite a time for you to suddenly wake up, no?
I heard your reality is throbbing like an inconsolable ache in your head
Ours-Â a chronic one, offers heartfelt condolences. Our mothers wish nobody had to die.
We learnt funeral songs as lullabies
and last night, I remembered each song for each life and the songs went on and count didn’t stop and night hasn’t ended in 4 days!
let’s put our narratives on your weighing scale
call it a ‘selective empathy calculator’, it suits your privileges.
We tell you stories, you call them foreign conspiracies.
We call you biased, you ask us to sanitize our words.
Our talks are loops. You run in circles with knives.
Me- “You please be sensitive.”
You- “You leave my country or fold your hands into nationalism.”
“You think. Heal wounds. Let’s all bury our guns. You’ve always known the solution.”
“You fear my nuclear. There’s only one resolution. Open doors to bullets. Succumb”
I take my fears off the scale, l.
I break each down in elements
take you through a kaleidoscope of events
put them back one by one
pausing each time
weighing each part
and yet yours
always weigh heavier.
So you win and raise swords
And I take my stories and raise slogans.
And when all the blood is spilt
and the all narratives go home
your tyranny stick to your scales like irony
heavier, still heavier than our blood
Even on an empty scale, your side always tilts right.
It is 1990, I am not born.
Someone peeks through the window of my motherâ€™s house.
In the vicinity, suitcases are being quietly packed with the essentials of olden days.
Secrets of slaughter are flying from paper to paper, from house to house.
In caravans, are leaving ancestral names with their progressive ambition for their motherland.
Itâ€™s 1990, I am not born and my mother is a recent bride.
Someone peeks through the window, finger on their mouth, mourning for a house thatâ€™ll fade like
an old photograph for decades to come.
Someone with a mask pours water over the oil lamps.
The temple bells, like the tinkle of her anklets, are distant now.
My mother has lost a best friend.
Itâ€™s 1990, Iâ€™m not born yet and someone in my fatherâ€™s house shuts a window to a neighbor who may never return.
Our school history roars of East Indian revolutions, we learn of swords that cut open the wombs of innocent mothers, of strong horses and strongest tribesmen, of lofty turbans and silken robes and their royal touch.
But where was my history?
I leaf through the dreams of my teachers, the teachers of their teachers, looking for the scent of my blood, I find indifference.
My history hides between the lines of your history.
My history weeps on empty pages, jumps out of the window, scatters blood on the streets.
My book of history lives in the haunted library of memories that my forefathers were forbidden to put on paper.
Someone peeks through the window of my fatherâ€™s house, watches a man with a gun shoot dead a boy of 5.
Someone drags his body indoors.
My history finds home for a night.
It is 2016 and the newspaper promises peace on the streets
I leave the city again
For freedom or an illusion of it
I reach Delhi, waiting for a call from home
So we ran away from our bleeding city,
We speak of it in distant lands.
But how does a city run away from itself? From its history? From its memory?
Your history is in the way of my history.
Your memory is again in the way of my memory.
Itâ€™s a still night and all the cities have lost a track of each other.
(These poems were published in the September 2020 print issue of Mountain Ink.)
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Samia Mehraj is a poet and development professional at IIC, University of Chicago Trust. Her work has been published in Scroll, Kashmir Lit, Hindustan Times, The Bombay Review among others.