The last brick – a poem after Dadri

A gong echoes

through the nerves

of a naked temple

 

the priest,

pulls the janeu

close to his holy milieu

 

a news

reaches the door steps

of a village, resting ,

on the laps of a burdened night

 

like a noose

binding the bones

of a burning corpse

 

hatred in the hands

anger in the eyes

 

a hundred men move

like ill-trained soldiers

of a never-ending war

like a flock of fleas

feeding on rotten flesh

 

moon,

that cracked mirror of melancholy,

reflects a cow

horns like trishuls

hoofs like holy domes

 

chewing

at the mirror,

from within

bit by bit,

the image bursts through

 

shattered moon

spread across the ocean

like dead bodies of birds

that couldn’t bear to fly

anymore

 

scared stars

seek refuge

in the shadow of a sun

frozen on the canvas of cosmos

 

humble clouds

softly melt into dew

on the lips of faded roses.

 

Azeez,

prays near the silence of his windows

 

as he blows his breath

over the surface of his chest,

he gazes at the distant sky

the blue expanse of its sad beauty

 

for the first time in all his 50 years,

he looks at a sky shorn of all its ornaments,

 

no starstudded necklaces

or moonful sindhoor

or seven-colored lipgloss

or clumps of cloudy hair

 

for the first time,

sky feels like a delicate wall

between the almighty and him.

 

he longs, in that second,

to rebuild this fragile barrier

with the bricks he bought for work

 

A brickboned sky

cemented with piety of a mason

 

An offering to the god…

 

a sudden thud on the door

bitter like a graveyard’s breath

 

voices shored up outside

buzzing like waves

looking for silent sand

to dissolve their disgust

to spit the remains of their rage

 

everyone in the home

huddled up tight in their hearts

clutching to the pale walls

 

hinge of the door

slides down like a knife

waiting to stab the sky

 

the velvety curtain

still soaking in the scent of Eid

shakes like a baby on fire

 

the door breaks open

the treasure trove of human flesh

pounced upon with swords of slogans

 

You think we don’t know

what was in the cover

you dumped in the landfill

 

those stinking bones,

that stale pounds of meat

 

You think you can escape

killing our mother, our gau,…

 

the wrath of her wronged sons

shall make you vomit all that you gulped,

 

you shameless Miyans’ “

 

” You are mistaken. no..”

A young man hits Azeez on his jaws

with a red brick from the corner

 

the mob rushes towards him,

each picking up a sturdy brick

 

dragging him

like a corpse in chains

to the solemn street outside

 

beads of blood

drip beneath his eyelids

sinking into his sodden kurta

 

like shadows in the night

they surround his body

 

their legs moved

like those of rats

marching to the tunes

of a loud, yet distant, pipe

 

the band of bigots

in the land of bullies

 

the sky seems to spit

dust from the bloodied bricks

 

weeping walls of ravaged rooms

look for fingers to wipe their tears

 

but find only fists

that pound on the bent backbones

of loosely locked doors

 

birds

fluttered from horizon to horizon

depositing dispatches

of despair

on the crumbling roofs

of hope, hiding,

in exile

cloaked in the whispers of winter

sleeping in the arms of a fading spring

 

Is it time to die?”

the hope looks with closed eyes

at silent faces of helpless seasons.

 

the mob knows,

all it takes is one more punch.

 

they shuffle for that last brick

unbroken

unstained

 

bricks of a burning house

 

a house

abandoned

its bosom bleeding

like that of a mother

with no more milk to give

for its dying children

 

a house

hounded to its death

buried alive in the midst of a cheering crowd

 

that last brick

to silence the last beat

of a grieving heart

to lynch the last lunch

of a hungry home

 

his daughter rushes towards it

throwing herself over the remaining brick

 

the only one.

 

they knew that that brick

cannot be culled from her claws

 

they drag her towards him

 

her moist eyes

to the shore of her father

receding deep into the sea

far from the wings of the vultures

 

they pull her shoulders back

with the force of a funeral dance

and then down onto his shaking throat,

the last brick lands…

 

and breaks

into million words

of a charred poem

 

his last breath melts

into the morning, still hiding,

under the robes of the naked night.

 

his lifeless eyes

seem to be telling her

 

find a roof to save

this homeless sky”

 

the last tears of open eyes

the last brick of a shifting house

 

( for Akhlaq)

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Abul Kalam Azad Written by:

Abul Kalam Azad is a poet based in Chennai

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