The Nation Is Not A Map Drawn On A Piece Of Paper

If one room in your house
is ablaze
Can you
just go sleep in another one?
If in one room of your house,
corpses rot and decay,
Then can you just pray in another one?
If yes,
Then I have nothing
to say to you.

The nation is not a map
drawn on a piece of paper
so that even if an edge frays
the remaining parts stay intact;
and rivers, mountains, cities, villages
hold fast to their places
If this is not your belief,
Then I do not want to live
with you.

In this world, there is nothing greater than a man’s life
Not god.
Not knowledge.
Not elections.
Any text written on a piece of paper
can be torn
And buried under
the seven folds of the earth.

A judgment
that stands bolstered by corpses
is blind.
A reign
that flows from the barrel of a gun
is the trade of assassins.
If this is not your belief,
then I no longer
have to bear with you,
even for a minute.

The murder of a child
The death of a woman
The gaping wounds on the body
of a man rent by bullets,
are the defeat of not one regime
but the whole nation.

Such blood
does not flow
to soak into the earth.
It rises to stain black
the flags that flutter in the sky.
The earth that bears the imprint of army jackboots
on which corpses fall
If that earth does not become fire
and course through your veins,
Then understand
that you have turned into a wasteland.
You have no right to even take a breath here
This world is no longer for the likes of you.

A last word
Straight up.
Do not ever forgive a murderer.
Be he your friend
Or the stakeholder of religion
Or the renowned chowkidar
of your democracy.

Translated from Hindi by Ayesha Kidwai


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Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena (15 September 1927 – 24 September 1983) was a Hindi writer, poet, columnist and playwright. He received his education at Banaras Hindu University, and Allahabad University. Today he is considered an important political poet. He won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his Poetry collection, Khutiyon Par Tange Log ("People Hanging From Pegs"). He also wrote many children's poem of which Ibn batuta ka juta is the popular one. He edited the children's magazine Parag.

One Comment

  1. April 9, 2021

    Cheap, Biased and Pathetically poor writing. The translator seems to a peddler of cheap political agenda hiding behind the writing of a dead man.

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