tum se pahle vo jo ik shaḳhs yahāñ taḳht-nashīñ thā
us ko bhī apne ḳhudā hone pe itnā hī yaqīñ thā
तुम से पहले वो जो इक शख़्स यहाँ तख़्त-नशीं था
उस को भी अपने ख़ुदा होने पे इतना ही यक़ीं था
The person before you - who sat on this throne,
They were as unshakable in their belief of being God
For the August Edition of Voyaging to Innocence, I share with you a vision of freedom. I am sharing a poem of my own, something I had written around the time when this idea of a monthly release of artwork coupled with poetry was taking root in my mind (December, 2020).
Along with the poem, I had written about the context a little bit. Disoriented in the whirlwind of political unrest and injustice, I sat down one day to write, to try and hold on to an ideal - a positive affirmation that could keep me hopeful in all the oppression that marginalised communities across the country were experiencing at the time. I had written a short note to accompany the poem, then:
It has been a year since the anti NRC/CAA movement began, and once again Delhi is teeming with dissenting voices. I'm talking, of course, about the Farmers from Punjab and Haryana who have risen in protest against the the ruling dispensation. The current movement is purported to be the largest mass gathering in the world. It is a culmination of many months of organisation and mobilisation to address the rising discontent in the farmers of the country. While the pandemic rages on, the heart learns courage as it surveys the showreel of defiance against fascist and isolationist attacks on the very soul of this democracy. This is a tide that cannot be stopped.
At this peculiar historical moment as we are lost in our battles, I imagine a kind of utopia of resistance. I imagine a world that we fight for together, and at moments, I get a glimpse.
Yes there is a naive sense of fantasy that pervades my words. I have left it. This is not a poem of great craft, or subtlety. At the time, it was a kind of call (for myself, and for friends and others who stand in solidarity with its dream), with the frills and pageantry of eulogy. The cadence of the sonnet form (still a favourite) mirrors this. I share it today, with the knowledge that not a lot has changed, and that the manzars I refer to in the poem still give me strength and hope, and the spirit of resistance is still alive in my country today.
The artwork is by Vikas Thakur, a fellow artist who has captured the bhav of this poem, and understands that this will continue - this resistance. This is the work we have to do, perhaps. This is the hope we must foster.
As casteist, exclusionary and jingoistic voices gather momentum in the country, once again, it would be good to remember Ambedkar’s legendary anthem: Educate, Organise, Agitate!
This is the eighth in the series of digital prints featuring artists’ interpretations of 12 different poems by Indian poets (released in monthly editions). This project is conceived as an anthology of digital wallpapers for desktops/laptops combining poetry and visual art. You can find the January edition here, the February edition here, the March edition here, the April edition here, the May edition here, the June edition here, and the July edition here.
Click on the image to properly view, download, and set it as your wallpaper.
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