A Poem by F S Aijazuddin, written in the summer of 2003.
Let us return to the kindergarten of 1947.
Let us learn another alphabet,
un-form words, deconstruct sentences,
erase paragraphs that have lidless form
but contain no meaning,
burn volumes soaked with hate
on a pyre of combustible half-truths.
Let small minds return to smaller desks
and slate clean the lessons of fifty-six failed terms.
A as in Ashoka, Advani and in Arjuna;
B in Bomb-blasts, Babri and forgotten Brotherhood;
C is for the cowardice of cross border terrorism;
D the divide that joins both sides;
E the energies misspent in war;
F the barren fruit of pyrrhic victories;
G common to Gandhi, Gujarat and genocide;
H an irrational fear of hegemony;
I the egos both in IndIa and PakIstan;
J for Jinnah who dreamed of both but died in one;
K for Kashmir that un-bottled Kargil;
Lahore a stage in an unfinished bus yatra;
M for Muslims, God’s latest harijans;
N for Nehru who saw a future for India, none for Pakistan;
O for opportunities – missed, lost, yet to be found;
P for the peace still in search of a home;
Q for the quagmire out of which lotuses bloom;
R for refugees, retaliation, and overdue repentance;
S the thousand suns that exploded both at Chaghai and Pokhran;
T the Tashkent that ended war but brought no peace;
U for the understanding that eludes the wise;
V the final victory that can never be won;
W the wars that should never have been fought;
X the cross on which we nail each other’s palms;
Y the Youth that deserves to reach old age;
Z the zero-sum game played by khaki old boys with metallic toys.
Let us return to the kindergarten of 1947,
and there learn again how to draw
stars and crescents against plain green skies.
Let us learn to paint colours
in three broad bands,
and pivot a spinning wheel in the centre.
Let us learn to respect each other’s gods,
admire their handiwork, not extol our own;
Let us forgive each other’s trespasses,
and not forget the sins we cannot disown.
Let us work together, resolve to emerge
from our self-extinguished night,
to live nearer, closer, and be
brightened by each other’s light.