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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 1, December 20, 2008

Bhagat Singh ki Murat (Statue of Bhagat Singh)

Sunday 21 December 2008, by Fahmida Riyaz

There is news from Delhi
- alas! Alas!!
- What a mess they have made
- Of Bhagat Singh
- In the Parliament Complex!

For sixty years they petitioned
- The British rejected him
- But YOU! Our own government.
- Erect his statue
- in the Parliament Complex
- At last the government thumped its chest
- and said why not!
- and erected the statue in the Parliament Complex.
- But when the veil was lifted
- You discover it is not Bhagat Singh
- That 24 year old beautiful lad
- Nor his young limbs that they could not properly burn
- On the fateful night when they hanged him.

It is some 60 years old guy
- Flabby and tired looking
- With upturned mustaches
- Oh what the hell is this.
- This is not our Bhagat Singh
- In the Parliament Square
- Who the hell is he?

Ha ha ha! Dear friends
- Wipe your tears look closely
- At all the other statues in the Parliament
- Is it the same Jawaharlal as he was?
- Is it the same Gandhi?
- The same Abul Kalam Azad?

The in-coming and out-going respected parliamentarians
- Have made an omelet of their reality
- And gobbled them up long long ago.
- In this grand square
- Only cissored and edited versions
- Can find a lasting place.

Bhagat Singh was the child of his time
- And times have changed. He loved Urdu poetry and Ghalib
- And Glaib, getting rid of his robe
- Is Ghalib now, winking and singing some trashy “gazal”
- Aishwarya Rai is dancing on it
- So kind of her.

And in his city Lahore
- Bhagat Singh is a Sikh
- Who perhaps migrated to India in 1947
- Such names make people nervous
- Is the god-damn man coming back?
- to claim his property??
- We shall never let that happen
- After all we left fields and barns
- shops and houses in Ludhyana.

Bhagat Singh was a pure Indian
- His times are swept away with the wind
- He was a purely Indian earth-song
- Light in the water
- Rustling in the wind
- He was a purely Indian passion of his time
- And times have changed.

Let his statue remain where it has remained for 60 years
- Across both sides of the border
- In a heart or two.
- There every morning
- Longings as innocent and ignorant as little children
- Cover his young body with fresh garlands of marigold
- Bathe his limbs with tears of love and adoration
- He belongs there
- He is happy there.

[This is a rough translation by me of my Hindi Kavita.—F.R.]

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