India! This Is Your Democracy

A poem by Nilofar of the Spoken Word collective  “Teach Me How to Write Azadi” 

“In an overflowing ward of a hospital
A 5-year-old girl lies
Pellet wounds across her body
Next to her is a 17 year old boy
Both of his eyes, forever gone
His mother sobs, she is heard wailing
My love, she says, they should have taken mine before they took yours

India: this is your democracy

Further south, a pregnant woman counts the days
The baby is supposed to come in a week
She feels her belly, and asks her husband
Do you think they will let us go through?
He looks at her with assurance, but is scared shitless inside
The reports are grim, curfew and checkpoints everywhere
He doesnt think they will manage

india: this is your Democracy

A young man dies in an accident abroad
His family doesn’t know for days
phone lines have been blocked, the internet too
In a twist of irony, they are hoping he knew that they were okay

India: this is your democracy

Another young man comes home from work on his scooter
He is an atm teller and Supports his large family
His brothers wedding is next week
He is found with 300 pellets in his body, every organ is ruptured
they had carried him to the side of the road, to pass it off as an accident
But blood leaves its trail

India, this is your democracy.

In kashmir, we are used to counting our dead, raped, disappeared, tortured, imprisoned, orphaned, widowed
This time we add: those who are blinded
Another generation is lost
Another generation is lost
To this bullshit occupation
While the world turns a blind eye
I can’t even begin to count the number of people who have blood on their hands

There are those that celebrate our death
They say we are rotten pigs who deserved to die
Some are kinder, they just say, we deserved it.
I dont know how hard a heart has to be to celebrate the death of children.
I dont know how hard a heart has to be to celebrate the death of children.

Their hearts are dead.

But i know, ours are alive
They are alive in the songs we sing for our martyrs
They are alive in the tears we shed for our children
They are alive in the stones we throw at our oppressors
They are alive in the stories we tell of our history
They are alive in the way we come together, bringing food, giving blood
They are alive in the jokes we make when there are no tears left
They are alive in the lines we write to bear witness

Today, It has been over a month of curfew
My 3 year old cousin wants to learn to write
I ask her if she wants to learn her name
No- she says
And leans forward, with a smile on her face
Teach me how to write azadi”.

August 2016


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