Freedom and Lights : Ode To Bombay

by Shaheryar Ali

Fire billows from the Taj Mahal Palace hotel on 27/11/08

Once again they have attacked, at the heart of Bombay. Bombay is every thing which they hate. Bombay is Freedom, Bombay is Life, Bombay is Music, Bombay is Light. This is the  attack on city of Lights. 100 people have been killed in cold blood. The attack is an attempt to over throw Indian democracy and secularism. The madness which has engulfed this world due to George Bush’s and OBL’s war of Terror has now struck  India.

Mumbai citizen reads the morning newspaper on 27/11/08

India stands as an anti thesis of every thing on which OBL and Bush believe. A country with many languages, cultures and religions and yet a nation united on the principles of democracy , secularism, equality and social justice and modernism..

They will fail to destroy India , they will fail to destroy the thousands of years old tradition of culture of tolerance and wisdom. Bombay lives, united and whole, full of lights and music, it will once again be. Prophets of darkness can never defeat Light. Because Light is eternal because Light is truth .  Bombay is the new Beirut , a war zone , where Imperialists  and Fascists play havoc. But neither did Beirut surrender nor will Bombay.

The gloomy night which came to city of lights has reminded me the lines of Faiz Ahmad Faiz , which he wrote for Lahore. “O city of Lights”. Today his city is Bombay. Today our city is Bombay and we will not surrender.

“City of Lights”

On each patch of green, from one shade to the next,
the noon is erasing itself by wiping out all color,
becoming pale, desolation everywhere,
the poison of exile painted on the walls.
In the distance,
there are terrible sorrows, like tides:
they draw back, swell, become full, subside.
They’ve turned the horizon to mist.
And behind that mist is the city of lights,
my city of many lights.

How will I return to you, my city,
where is the road to your lights? My hopes
are in retreat, exhausted by these unlit, broken walls,
and my heart, their leader, is in terrible doubt.

But let all be well, my city, if under
cover of darkness, in a final attack,
my heart leads its reserves of longings
and storms you tonight. Just tell all your lovers
to turn the wicks of their lamps high
so that I may find you, Oh, city,
my city of many lights.

(Translated by Agha Shahid Ali)

20 Comments

Filed under India, Pakistan

20 responses to “Freedom and Lights : Ode To Bombay

  1. John

    This comment is so absurd. To equate George Bush with the Moslem terrorists in nonsense! Rather the writer should now understand how we in America felt on 9-11. Certainly all decent people react with revulsion and condemn the Moslem bandits. May God bring down retribution on these murders.

  2. Shaheryar Ali

    The writer unfortunately cant differentiate between the blood of a child who died innocent of any crime in New York and that of those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan . I see no difference between a bomb which is dropped from sky or blown on ground. Mr George W Bush is a war criminal . Who defined all norms and laws to invade a country. There is no difference between him and OBL. Crusaders or Jihadis , they are murderers.
    You should read Amnesty International’s reports on USA . Irene Khan termed it as “return of gulags” . All due to this man.

  3. Aliarqam

    “India stands as an anti thesis of every thing on which OBL and Bush believe. A country with many languages, cultures and religions and yet a nation united on the principles of democracy , secularism, equality and social justice and modernism..”
    Well Said Sherry..
    All acts of terrorism should be condemned….Very unfortunate Day for this Region…But such acts of terrorism in both the countries should bring them together against the planners of such acts who wants to create disputes and then offer their services to ressolve such disputes…
    Come On Join Hands against those who dont wanna let peoples from both sides to come closer…..Collective Wisdom works

  4. Aliarqam

    God bless
    “We the Common men”
    Karachi is endanger Now….It could be the next Victim……

  5. Majumdar

    Sherry babu/Ali mian,

    Thanks for your good wishes. Hopefully we in the subcontinent will rid of this menace soon.

    Regards

  6. YLH

    I don’t agree with you on many things… but this is one piece I wholeheartedly agree with you on…
    Bombay is Bombay… it is like New York… it is like Karachi… it is the world’s city…

    Those who have attacked Bombay… Asia’s financial capital… symbol of secularism and modern capitalism … of democracy and of multitudes… of art and culture… and for us Pakistanis… the city of the Quaid… have attacked all of us regardless of our religion or national origin.

  7. YLH

    John…

    What’s wrong with you ? Innocent till proven guilty…

    This is most likely a right wing conspiracy to bring the current Indian UPA government to its knees… more than any “Moslem” bandits per se…

  8. Sa'ad Abbasi

    John:
    You Americans like to talk about your feelings dont you?(that was Dicapprio in the Blood Diamonds)
    Since we are sharing our feelings let me share mine too. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and remined there till 1986. All during that time KHAD and the KGB killed us, bombs went off in every corner of this country, we dont even know how many perished in those bombings, Soviet scuds fell on us every second day, our border lands got regular bombing and straffing from Soviet jets.
    The US invaded Afghanistan in 2002 and we have seen a spate of violence ever since, suicide bombers, violence of all hues is so rampant that we are even afraid to pray in our mosques. Every time a man with more than ordinarily long beard comes and sits next to me I am alarmed fearing a explosive filled jacket might be strapped to him underneath his loose clothes and I rush out of the mosque as soon as the obligatory prayer is over. We think twice before going to crowded places, we choose to travel by road if we have the choice. Simple affairs like shopping for groceries has become matter of great concern for us.
    So dont tell me to consider how you felt after 9-11, I already know it! and I know it for much longer than you.

  9. Aliarqam

    “I don’t agree with you on many things… but this is one piece I wholeheartedly agree with you on…”

    Khud Parasti ki bhi koi Hadd hoti Hai…

  10. YLH

    Pray tell oh genius how that amounts to Khudparasti?

  11. I do not want to speculate on who are behind this atrocious crimes on humanity committed in Mumbai.

    But I am worried these acts would definitely put the clock back once again in South Asian peace efforts. Perhaps the criminals had this one objective, to push both neighbours back to the brink, to a situation of eyeball to eyeball.

    I hope and pray that the peoples and leaders of both Pakistan and India would be able to withstand such pressures and take the peace process forward, come what may.

  12. Iola Fallaci

    The Mumbai Apocalypse so phrased as an attack on Indian secularism can only be justifiably called so if we also believe that this attack is ‘actually’ going to bring about a 180 degree turn in the guiding principals which have been the hallmark of the Indian road map. Yes, it has struck fear into the hearts and minds of the Indian race and ppl yet I do not feel it is the fuse that is going to set off or engulf the entire fabric of India’s political and cultural framework. For it to surrender to one attack, would only make it appear far weaker than we have always deemed it to be, no? 🙂

  13. Iola Fallaci

    Lol..my comment is awaiting moderation. 🙂

  14. Words that heal are perhaps the need of the hour! Yours definitely are!
    Thank you!

  15. Pingback: ‘Some of us did not die’ at Blogbharti

  16. Vijay Goel

    Tx for the lovely article.A Sane voice at the time of so much insanity.I wd like to share regular mail with you.I firmly believe that we in India and Pakistan who believe in Love and friendship should join our voices.My e mail id is vijaygoel@eth.net and wd be grateful for a mial from you.Thanks

  17. Vijay Goel

    Tx for the lovely article.A Sane voice at the time of so much insanity.I wd like to share regular mail with you.I firmly believe that we in India and Pakistan who believe in Love and friendship should join our voices.Thanks

  18. Kishore Khanna

    How about giving shape to suggestion given by actor Amir Khan – 1000 roses to bloodshreaders!Ideas solicited as to how, where, when and who could organize such an event – either in India or Pakistan. If muslims gather in hundreds and thousands and if possible in millions in India and Pakistan to condemn this madness, message would unfailingly reach – that Islam is equally a peace loving religion and that muslims donot share/agree with your action plan to kill innocents

  19. Manav

    “Zauq! Jo madresse ke bigre hue hain mulla;
    Un ko maikhaane mein le aao, sanwar jaayenge!”
    -Zauq